CSU Fall 2018 class reflects University goals for growth, diversity

Julia Trowbridge

Once again, Colorado State University has welcomed a record-breaking freshman class, though in order to maintain their annual goal of a 1 to 2 percent increase, the University is looking to grow elsewhere.

This semester, CSU accepted 5,324 students in the current Fall 2018 class compared to last year’s decade-record of 5,031 students, according to the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Effectiveness. Including Semester at Sea students and online students, the incoming class sits at 5,432, according to SOURCE.

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CSU has been working on increasing the size and standards of the University, CSU President Tony Frank wrote in an email to students. Frank wrote that CSU has succeeded in many of its goals, including decreased gaps based on socioeconomic status, race and first-generation status.

“Those days add up, and today, looking back over this decade, I can state with confidence that so much of what we envisioned has been attained,” Frank wrote. “We have met and exceeded enrollment goals, investing strategically in financial aid while expanding research productivity and restoring a sense of commitment to Colorado agriculture and service to the state as a whole.”

(Infographic courtesy of the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Effectiveness)

Academic Profile

The average high school GPA of the Fall 2018 class is 3.64, which marks a 0.02 increase from the Fall 2017 freshman class, according to the Office of Institutional Research. Incoming student GPA, SAT and ACT scores have been fairly consistent across incoming classes.

Although CSU has increased their acceptance rate and has focused on increasing the diversity of the campus, the University hasn’t sacrificed it’s academic profile standards, said Leslie Taylor, the vice president for enrollment access. 

“The academic profile has remained steady over the past seven years and has maybe crept up a little bit,” Taylor said. “That’s something we’re really proud of and it demonstrates that we can diversify the student body with regard to low-income, first-generation students of color and maintain the academic profile.”

(Infographic courtesy of the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Effectiveness)

Ethnic Diversity

The Fall 2018 class has 1,451 students that identify as a minority, which makes up 27 percent of the total class.

In 2017, the freshmen minority population also made up 27 percent of the total. The population of the 2018 class still represents an increase at 1,336 students, compared to the relative size of the Fall 2017 class.

CSU defines an ethnic minority by the federal definition, and this statistic does not include international students, who are included as non-resident students.

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This is consistent with the slowly growing percentage of the minority students at CSU, Taylor said, but the University aims to increase its minority population to better reflect the ethnic diversity of Colorado

“We’re certainly not seeing an increase where we reflect the demographics of the State of Colorado, which would be our ultimate goal, but we recognize would be incredibly difficult to obtain,” Taylor said.

Gender Diversity 

In the Fall 2018 class, 54 percent of students identify as female and 46 percent of students identify as male.

Although the University allows students to self-identify their gender when applying, the federal government uses the binary for demographic research purposes, Taylor previously told The Collegian.

Colleges at CSU that don’t normally have as many women, particularly in areas with science, math, engineering and technology, are working on increasing the number of women in the colleges, Taylor said. 

“Many of the colleges, engineering, STEM fields in particular, some of the programs in the College of Agriculture do have a push to get more females in, but more females are going to college than ever before so we do look at that,” Taylor said.

(Infographic courtesy of the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Effectiveness)

First-Generation and Resident Status

The percentage of non-resident students is up to 37 percent for the Fall 2018 class. This represents an increase from the Fall 2017 class, in which 33 percent were non-residents.

The University is working to increase the number of non-residents to diversify the backgrounds of students, mainly focused in states like Texas, California and Illinois, where the majority of the non-resident students come from, Taylor said.

“When you bring in people from all over the country and all over the world… the impact on student experience is large,” Taylor said. “Going to school with people from different backgrounds, people with diversity of thought and experiences is important.”

The increase in non-residents attending CSU has statistically offset the percentage of first-generation students, which is 22 percent, or 1,174 students, for the Fall 2018 class. Although the first-generation students also made up 22 percent of the Fall 2017 class, the class had 56 fewer students than the current freshmen class.

“Even though we’re growing first generation (students) in the state of Colorado, it’s hard to see that growth because it’s offset by the number of non-resident students,” Taylor said.

Honors Program

The Honors Program is made up of about nine percent of the Fall 2018 class, which is the largest percentage of the class that the honors program has accepted, said Donald Mykles, director of the Honors program.

The Honors Program has accepted 463 students from the Fall 2018 class, which is 42 more students compared to the Fall 2017 class, Mykles said.

The Program is currently around 71 percent female, and 21 percent of the students identify as ethnically diverse, Mykles said. Although the percentages don’t exactly mirror the undergraduate population, Mykles and the Honors Program are working on reaching out to minorities and first-generation students, encouraging them to apply.

“We’re seeing greater percentages of ethnic minorities applying to our program and coming into our program, so we’re moving in the right direction,” Mykles said. “We’re lagging behind the overall undergraduate population, but these things take time.” 

Looking to the Future

In the future, CSU is continuing to focus its efforts on recruiting non-resident students, which has been the most successful recruit, first-generation students and minority students, Taylor said. With the increase of students, CSU is looking to stay on track with their goal of a one to two percent increase in class size each year in order to best accommodate students.

To accommodate the continued growth of the freshmen population, CSU is building a 1,400-bed residence hall named Meridian Village, to be built where Aylesworth and Newsom halls are located. Construction for Meridian Village will begin in 2019 and is planned to open in 2021, as previously reported in The Collegian.

“We’re not trying to grow as rapidly as we did this past year, that was actually a little bit more than we’re comfortable with,” Taylor said. “We’re looking at more of a one or two percent growth every year, so 60 to 120 new students.”

Collegian reporter Julia Trowbridge can be reached at news@collegian.com or on twitter @chapin_jules.