MARYVILLE, Mo. – Northwest Missouri State University’s total headcount this fall is 7,267 students, making it the highest enrollment in the institution’s 115-year history, according to the University’s fall census count this week.
The enrollment number represents a 2.3 percent increase from a year ago and the third consecutive fall that Northwest will record an increased headcount. It also is the fifth time Northwest has broken the 7,000 mark since passing it for the first time in the fall of 2009.
Additionally, the University maintains a high retention rate with 75.7 percent of last year’s freshman class choosing to return to Northwest this fall. That mark is the second-highest in the University’s history after Northwest logged a record 78.97 percent retention rate in 2018.
The total headcount also includes 1,785 graduate students, which is a 28 percent increase from last year.
“It is all about our team,” Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski said. “Students, faculty, staff, alumni, partners, community members and all other Bearcats contribute to our expectations of learning, connecting, caring, practicing civility and showing pride. We are thankful for Northwest’s brand ambassadors who help carry our mission and story, and we are humbled by this record as we continue serving our communities and stakeholders.”
Affordable education helps students succeed
Illustrating its quality, Northwest’s placement rates indicate that 96 percent of bachelor’s degree earners and 99 percent of master’s degree earners secure employment or continue their education within six months of graduation, according to the most recent data. Zippia, a career website, names Northwest the best college in Missouri for getting a job.
Additionally, results of the 2019-2020 Ruffalo Noel Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory show Northwest students enjoy higher satisfaction than national and regional peers on all scales. In fact, 82 percent of all Northwest students report they would repeat their Northwest experience, compared to 75 percent of students surveyed nationally at their respective institutions.
Northwest places a high emphasis on profession-based learning to help graduates get a jumpstart on their careers. Students have opportunities to build their résumés with experiences on campus in nearly every area of study, including the Horace Mann Laboratory School, the R.T. Wright Farm, Mozingo Outdoor Education Recreation Area or Knacktive, a student-driven integrated digital marketing communications agency.
Northwest’s attention to student success also is evident in its work with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). The Washington, D.C., based higher education association selected Northwest to partner with AASCU on an effort to validate student success strategies.
In relation to value, Northwest includes textbooks and a laptop in its tuition costs, which is among the lowest in the nation, saving students an estimated $7,200 over four years. Northwest also offers 1,200 student employment positions, allowing students to earn money while building professional skills through the internationally benchmarked program.
Ninety percent of first-time, full-time freshmen receive some form of financial aid, which includes the Northwest’s innovative Bearcat Advantage and American Dream Grant programs. The University also offers low-cost housing, and it implemented a revised rate structure for graduate students that is based on market demand and program offerings rather than a traditional model based on residency.
Furthermore, to help students graduate in four years or less and accrue less debt, Northwest’s “Complete 30” initiative encourages students to take a personalized approach to meeting their academic goals and complete 30 credit hours during the course of an academic year. To assist students with meeting that goal, Northwest reduced the number of credits needed to earn a bachelor’s degree from 124 to 120.
“The dedication of our faculty and staff is the backbone of our campus and one reason we continue to see record enrollment,” Jeremy Waldeier, Northwest’s executive director of student recruiting, said. “The campus community focuses on our students and their success, and we truly want to assist our students make the most of their investment in Northwest. Students continue to see the value of attending Northwest and understand the benefits of becoming a Bearcat.”
Other enrollment numbers
Northwest’s fall enrollment of first-time freshmen is 1,221, and 42 percent of those students identify as first-generation college students.
Additionally, Northwest reports 1,182 students, or 12 percent of the student population, identify with underrepresented groups or hail from countries outside the United States. Northwest’s total domestic minority enrollment is 892 students, which represents 12 percent of the student body and a 4 percent increase since last fall.
The University’s enrollment includes 290 international students, who represent about 4 percent of Northwest’s student body. They represent 39 countries with most of those students coming from India, Nepal, Nigeria, Brazil and China.
While the University’s in-state student population is 4,858 students, representing a 4 percent increase from a year ago, Northwest students hail from a total of 44 states this fall as the institution continues to draw well from Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas.
Away from Northwest’s main campus in Maryville, the number of students enrolled in online-only programs increased by 34 percent to 1,856 students. At Northwest-Kansas City, where the University offers a range of coursework, including dual credit offerings and degree completion programs, 402 students are enrolled; Northwest expects that number to increase as additional high schools begin their school years with delayed starts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Northwest students remain academically strong with an average ACT score of 22, which exceeds state and national averages, and an average high school grade-point average of 3.45.