BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State University has welcomed 21,253 Mountaineer students for fall 2023 — a historic enrollment for the university and a 4% increase since last fall. This year’s class includes the largest first-year and online student populations to date and is the most diverse in App State’s 124-year history, with 19% of the total population being racially and/or ethnically underrepresented students.
“In Boone and Hickory, and online, App State continues its mission to extend access to higher education, to serve our region and to better the futures of all North Carolinians,” said App State Chancellor Sheri Everts. “Our strong enrollment numbers signify that students recognize the value and high quality of an App State education and its power to change lives.”
The university’s continued growth — through its Boone campus and newly opened Hickory campus, as well as through App State Online — helps support the myFutureNC goal of ensuring that 2 million North Carolinians will have a postsecondary degree or credential by 2030 that meets the demands of the state’s businesses and industries.
This fall, App State’s Hickory campus, which opened Aug. 21, serves a total of 363 students who are enrolled in Hickory campus courses.
Hickory campus enrolls more than 360 students
The Hickory student population comprises the following:
- 21% racially and/or ethnically underrepresented students.
- 58% first-generation, undergraduate students.
- 71% rural students.
With the opening of its Hickory campus, App State has expanded access to higher education in the Western North Carolina region — in what was previously the largest metropolitan area in the state without a public university campus. The new campus provides more than 100 flexible and affordable educational programs. And, it aligns with both the university’s mission to increase access to higher education and with the University of North Carolina System Strategic Plan priorities of increasing access to underserved populations, maximizing affordability and expanding the UNC System’s contribution to the state’s critical workforces.
App State’s Hickory campus expansion comes amid a challenging higher education environment nationwide, with declining college enrollments and dozens of closures reported in recent years.
“We are steadfast in our belief in the power of higher education — and in our determination to help others experience the difference a college degree makes, not only for first-generation graduates but for each subsequent generation,” Everts said. “We are committed to reaching students from rural areas and from low-income families, and those who otherwise must work harder to access educational resources.”
App State is accepting applications for spring 2024 admission to the Hickory campus. Students who enroll at the Hickory campus for the 2023–24 academic year will receive App State’s Hickory First Scholarship — a one-time $2,000 award that students can use to offset the costs of tuition and fees.
Learn more about the App State Hickory campus and how to apply.
Underrepresented student enrollment reaches all-time high
For the ninth year in a row, App State has welcomed its most diverse student body in university history.
A total of 4,008 total students from underrepresented populations are enrolled at App State this fall, and these students compose 19% of App State’s total student population. This growth reflects a more than 6% increase in underrepresented students since last fall.
The Hispanic/Latine student population represents nearly half of App State’s racially and/or ethnically underrepresented students, with 1,800 Hispanic/Latine students enrolled at App State for fall 2023 — a 12% increase over fall 2022. Since Chancellor Everts arrived at App State in 2014, the Hispanic/Latine population has grown by 156%.
App State has a campus-based goal to increase the four-year graduation rate for Hispanic/Latine students, allowing the university to intensify its collective focus on serving one of the fastest-growing segments of the population — not only at App State, but also within North Carolina and the nation.
Under Everts’ leadership, App State has increased its total underrepresented student population by 77% since 2014. In the same time period, the university has more than doubled its enrollment of first-year underrepresented students — a 117% increase
Record-breaking undergraduate enrollment
Undergraduate student enrollment at App State has increased by nearly 5% since fall 2022, with 19,405 students composing the undergraduate population in fall 2023.
Of the total undergraduate population, 6,083 are first-generation students who represent more than 31% of the total undergraduate population. Since 2014, App State has experienced a more than 6% increase in first-generation students.
Largest first-year class at App State
This fall, the university is home to 4,227 new first-year Mountaineer students — the largest first-year class to date and a nearly 8% increase in first-year students since fall 2022. Among this student population are 818 underrepresented first-year students who compose more than 19% of the total first-year class, making this year’s first-year class the most diverse in university history.
App State welcomes 2nd largest transfer student class
App State has enrolled its second largest transfer student class to date, with 1,591 new transfer students — on campus and online — joining the App State Community in fall 2023. This growth represents a 6% increase in new transfer students since last fall, with new transfer students composing more than 7% of the total fall 2023 student population at the university.
The university was recently honored as one of 208 higher education institutions nationwide named to Phi Theta Kappa’s 2023 Transfer Honor Roll, which recognizes four-year U.S. colleges and universities for developing dynamic and innovative pathways that lead to success among community college transfer students. App State has held its place on the honor roll for seven consecutive years.
Through its Aspire Appalachian program, App State provides a seamless pathway for students enrolled at nine partner community colleges to complete their degrees at the university. Qualifying students receive dedicated academic and financial aid advising assistance from both their community college and App State.
Additionally, App State’s Transfer Admissions and Engagement offers numerous resources, as well as a highly qualified team, designed to support transfer students at every step of their Mountaineer journey. These resources include faculty and student transfer mentors, events designed to engage transfer students in the university’s campus communities, a dedicated residence hall for transfer students and more.
Supporting NC’s rural students
For fall 2023, App State enrolls a total of 5,681 in-state, degree-seeking undergraduate students from rural populations, which is a 2% increase in this student population since last fall. These students represent 32% of the total population of in-state, degree-seeking undergraduate students at App State; 71% of App State Hickory campus students are from rural populations. Including graduate students, App State enrolls a total of 6,434 rural students.
As a rural-serving institution, App State is committed to increasing enrollment of students from the state’s rural populations and ensuring the timely graduation of these students.
The university’s Reich College of Education is home to the Alliance for Research on Regional Colleges — an organization dedicated to advancing research and providing insight into the role of regional and rural-serving colleges and universities. Dr. Andrew Koricich, associate professor in App State’s higher education program, serves as the executive director of the alliance, which has received national recognition for its work to develop a tool that uses evidence-based criteria to define what it means to be a rural-serving institution.
Online enrollment increases for 4th consecutive year
2023–24 marks the fourth consecutive year that App State has experienced growth in online student enrollment; 2,038 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled in App State Online degree programs this fall.
From fall 2022 to fall 2023, online student enrollment has increased by more than 16%, with App State Online students representing nearly 10% of the total student population at App State.
Competitive retention and graduation rates
“Our excellent record for retaining students and ensuring they graduate with low college debt, combined with our national reputation for innovation and teaching excellence, is a direct reflection of our faculty and staff’s dedicated efforts to ensure an App State Experience that prepares students for success at our university and beyond,” said Everts.
The university’s overall 2023 first- to second-year retention rate — a primary performance indicator for institutions across the country — is 85%, well above the latest national average of 75.6% and a 2 percentage point increase over App State’s fall 2022 rate of 83%.
App State’s current six-year graduation rate is 73.1%, which is more than 10 percentage points above the latest national average graduation rate of 63% among four-year, public, degree-granting higher education institutions.
All numbers reported reflect App State’s fall 2023 census data as of Sept. 1. 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.
Courtesy of Appalachian State University