2012 Nicholls freshman class grows by 10 percent

THIBODAUX – A campuswide push to recruit students has led to a 10.4 percent increase in first-time freshmen enrolled at Nicholls State University for fall 2012.

Of the university’s 6,606 students, 1,253 of them are first-time freshmen — an increase of 118 from last year. The Office of Admissions attributes this growth to increased in-state and out-of-state recruiting; revamped Colonel Day, Scholars Night and Orientation programs; and an emphasis on campus tours.

“We know that Nicholls is an amazing place with caring people, and if we can get students to come on a campus tour, they see and feel that,” said Becky Durocher, director of admissions. “We are grateful for everything the entire university did to bring in the freshman class of 2012 — from maintenance workers who kept the campus looking beautiful to the faculty, staff and deans who met with potential students and their parents, even on the weekends. With declining state funding and budget cuts, we knew that each additional student recruited would help make Nicholls’ future stronger. Admissions staff spent the summer emailing, phoning and texting to close the deal with students, and the Office of Financial Aid helped students adjust their aid packages to help cover the necessary increase in tuition.”

Compared to last fall, this year’s freshman class includes 122 more minority students (a 6.61 percent increase) and 30 more TOPS recipients (a 4.4 percent increase). Well over half of the freshman class is on TOPS (57 percent). Overall, the Nicholls campus is growing more diverse with 28.71 percent minority enrollment.

As expected due to higher admission standards and larger graduating classes, total enrollment decreased by 2.5 percent, from 6,774 to 6,606 students. At the same time, two academic programs saw significant growth spurts. With 264 student majors, petroleum services more than doubled in size from last year. Nursing is also up by 26 percent in first-time freshmen enrollment, with the program now serving 18 percent of all Nicholls first-time students. Meanwhile, Chef John Folse Culinary Institute faculty are intensifying their recruitment efforts in anticipation of their new upcoming facility, which is poised to increase enrollment from about 300 to more than 500 culinary students.

Enrollment statistics also show that Nicholls students are progressing to the next level at a faster pace than seen in previous years. The percentage of students who progressed from freshman to sophomore status within a year, for example, increased from 44 percent to 45.6 percent. Such figures indicate that graduation rates will continue to rise. In three of the past four years, Nicholls has awarded record-breaking numbers of degrees — including 1,263 degrees in 2011–12, the most in university history.

“Such an accomplishment is remarkable considering that those were the same four years that this university was hit hardest by reductions in budget and personnel,” University President Stephen T. Hulbert said. “This is simply another example of how we have pulled together as a community and risen to the top to serve our students.”