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Appalachian Sees Strong Retention, Record Diversity Rates as ‘Slow and Steady’ Growth Continues

By Elisabeth Wall

In August, Appalachian State University welcomed 19,108 students to campus, including 4,723 first-year and new transfer students — the largest class in the university’s history.

Preliminary data from the Fall 2018 census data and the Office of Admissions as of Sept. 5 also show a continuing trend of very strong retention and diversity rates for the fall 2018 semester.

A record 16.2 percent of the population is traditionally underrepresented. Between 2014 and 2018, Appalachian has increased its total underrepresented student population by 802 students, or 35.4 percent. Among the first-year population, that increase has been 56.2 percent.

“As pleased as I am by the work we have done to increase the diversity on our campus,” Chancellor Sheri Everts said, “I am also proud of the work our university has done to strengthen our culture of diversity and inclusion.”

Other key performance indicators for universities across the nation include first- to second-year retention rates and six-year graduation rates. Appalachian’s 2018 first- to second-year retention rate is 87.2 percent and the six-year graduation rate is 73.3 percent.

Everts said that Appalachian students are “the future of our state – indeed, our world – and our extraordinary faculty and staff are working hard to ensure our already enviable retention rates.”

According to Appalachian Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Cindy Barr, maintaining strong retention numbers begins with the admissions process.

“We have a responsibility to admit a class that is academically prepared to retain and graduate, Barr said. A lot of care and intent goes into that selection up front to make sure we have a class that is well equipped to succeed here.”

In an address to faculty and staff on Sept. 7, Everts said, “We are bolstered by data that show indisputably that those who hold college degrees earn more and have lower unemployment rates. This is borne out by U.S. Census data and studies that show employers prefer to hire college graduates.”