By Megan Bruffy
In August, Appalachian State University welcomed 19,280 students — the largest and most diverse class in university history. Preliminary numbers from the fall 2019 census data and the Office of Admissions as of Sept. 5 also show a continuing trend of strong retention rates for the fall 2019 semester.
Appalachian enrolls 5,831 rural students — more than 300 students above the University of North Carolina System strategic plan benchmark for this year — and 4,977 first-generation undergraduate students, which is 28% of the total undergraduate population. A record 17.4% of the total population is racially/ethnically diverse. Appalachian has increased its total underrepresented student population by 47% since 2014.
“These numbers are an impressive testament to the collective efforts of our exemplary faculty and staff,” Chancellor Sheri Everts said. “Together, we are continually strengthening the culture of diversity and inclusion at Appalachian.”
Another key performance indicator for universities across the nation is the first- to second-year retention rate. Appalachian’s overall 2019 first- to second-year retention rate is 87.8%, well above the national average. Among underrepresented students, that rate is 87.2%, up from 82.3% in 2018.
According to Appalachian Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Cindy Barr, maintaining strong retention numbers begins with the admissions process. She credits Appalachian’s commitment to admitting applicants who are academically prepared to succeed at the university.
“Appalachian academics are rigorous and designed to push students to think critically and creatively. From the beginning of their Appalachian Experience, we help students establish a foundation for success that lasts a lifetime,” Everts said.