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

In August, Appalachian State University welcomed 18,811 students to campus, including 3,306 first-year students who comprise the largest and most diverse first-year class in the university’s history.

Preliminary data from the Fall 2017 Student Data File and the Office of Admissions as of September 8, 2017 also show record retention and diversity rates for the Fall 2017 semester.

The overall university population is now the most diverse in history at 16 percent, up from 15 percent in Fall 2016 and 13 percent from Fall 2014, Dr. Sheri N. Everts’ first semester as chancellor.

A record 18 percent of the first-year class identify as traditionally underrepresented, an increase of just over 10 percent from Fall 2016.

Other key performance indicators for universities across the nation include first- to second-year retention rates and 6-year graduation rates. Everts said, “While we diligently keep our focus on slow and steady growth, we have reported record gains in the key areas of recruitment and retention over the past three years.”

Appalachian’s overall retention rate now exceeds 88 percent, which is an all-time high, and which also exceeds the national average of 68 percent.

“Our faculty and staff can take particular pride in our retention rates, because they reflect the depth of their commitment to student success,” said Everts.

Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Cindy Barr echoed Everts’ sentiment regarding the importance of recruiting and retaining a diverse student body. “Providing a diverse learning environment is critical to preparing students for their post-college lives and careers,” said Barr.

Everts emphasized the need to ensure the university has the faculty, staff and facilities to support the growth. “Maintaining our infrastructure and our support for students, faculty and staff is in line with our mission of sustainability,” she said. “While we are all pleased that an Appalachian education is in high demand, we must make sure we are growing at a rate we can support and sustain in order to provide a transformative Appalachian Experience to all of our students.” She emphasized that university leadership will prioritize adding new faculty positions, as well as the quality and availability of academic classroom and laboratory space, in particular.

The admissions selection process continues to enroll students most likely to succeed. For enrolled students, the average high school GPA is 4.21 (weighted), average SAT score is 1184 and ACT 25.7.