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Students Put Their Trust in App State During Pandemic: Landmark Enrollment of 20,641 Students, Record-High Number of Underrepresented Students

Appalachian State University welcomed 20,641 students in fall 2021 — a landmark enrollment for the university that includes historic numbers of first-year and underrepresented students. Pictured, App State’s campus with Belk Library and Information Commons shown in the top left. Photo by Marie Freeman

Appalachian State University announces a landmark enrollment of 20,641 students in fall 2021 — the largest enrollment to date — which includes historic numbers of first-year and underrepresented students. The 3.1% increase in overall enrollment supports the university’s continued slow and steady growth since 2014.

“The data speak directly to the dedication of our faculty and staff in supporting and encouraging future generations of Mountaineers,” said App State Chancellor Sheri Everts. “Our steady increases in the enrollment of underrepresented and transfer students reflect our university’s commitment to making higher education accessible for all students.”

She continued, “These enrollment successes are particularly meaningful since they were accomplished amid the immense challenges presented by a global pandemic.”

First-year enrollment growth breaks records

App State has a total of 4,099 first-year students, marking the first time the university has enrolled more than 4,000 first-year students. Of note, underrepresented students compose 19.1% of the total first-year population, or 784 students, an increase of 5.7% since 2020.

Underrepresented student enrollment reaches historic high

Everts continues to prioritize and support diversity and inclusion initiatives at App State, including the establishment of the Diversity and Inclusion Accountability Team and the appointment of Jamie Parson as interim chief diversity officer following the retirement of Dr. Willie Fleming — App State’s first cabinet-level chief diversity officer, who was also hired by Everts.

App State reached its highest enrollment of underrepresented students to date — 18.2% of the total population, or 3,759 students, an increase of 6.3% since 2020.

Under Everts’ leadership, App State has increased its total underrepresented student population by 66% since 2014, and, in the same time period, it has more than doubled its first-year underrepresented enrollment — a 108% increase.

Enrollment from rural populations surpasses goals 3 years early

The university enrolls 5,865 in-state, degree-seeking undergraduate students from rural populations. This constitutes 34.3% of that total population at App State.

As part of the University of North Carolina System’s strategic plan, App State committed to increasing enrollment of students from rural populations. Of note, the university surpassed its fall 2021 benchmark set for rural student enrollment nearly three years early, in 2018.

Undergraduate enrollment shows steady growth despite pandemic

Undergraduate enrollment has increased 2.7% since 2020, totaling 18,555 students.

First-generation students compose 32% of the total undergraduate population, with 5,939 students.

The university’s overall 2021 first- to second-year retention rate — a primary performance indicator for institutions across the country — remained steady at 86.2%, more than four percentage points above the national average.

Online enrollment up for second year, launching new online vet tech program in 2022

App State Online enrollment (undergraduate and graduate) has increased by 6.4% for a total of 1,610.

In fall 2022, App State will launch a new four-year online degree program for licensed veterinary technicians — a partnership with Banfield Pet Hospital®, the leading provider of preventive veterinary care in the U.S. and part of the Mars Veterinary Health family of practices. The program will address the market demand — particularly in rural communities — for skilled veterinary professionals.

The program is under review for accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Online graduate enrollment highest since 2010

Graduate student enrollment is up 6.3% for a total of 2,086, and App State Online graduate enrollment exceeded 1,000 students for the first time since 2010.

Transfer student population grows by nearly 5%

Under Everts’ leadership, App State has expanded and strengthened relationships with eight community colleges in Western North Carolina to provide a seamless pathway for students to complete degrees at App State through the Aspire Appalachian Co-Admission Program.

This fall, new transfer students total 1,524, an increase of 4.5% from 2020.

Improvements continue on campus infrastructure

To complement and support its enrollment growth, App State continues to enhance its physical infrastructure. In July, the university opened the third of four new residence halls, and in spring 2021 App State re-opened the renovated Sanford Hall — an academic building in which almost every undergraduate Mountaineer has a class during their college career. More information can be found on the Appalachian’s Future website.

All numbers reported reflect App State’s fall 2021 census data as of Aug. 27. The University of North Carolina System Office determines the census date to be the 10th day of each fall and spring semester, by which all students should be registered for all of their courses for the semester.