Last week we announced that Boise State’s student body has climbed 1.2 percent this year to 22,259.
We are excited about this increase because it counters the trend around Idaho and the country — the total number of college students in the United States had been dropping for two years in a row.
We have welcomed more in-state students, seen an even bigger jump in out-of-state students, and, importantly, there have been great improvements among some of the key groups of potential students we know we need to reach and engage. The number of Hispanic and Latino students on campus increased by 14 percent, for example.
This ethnic, socio-economic and geographical diversity is important on campus. Having students from different backgrounds, locations and family experiences boosts the education of all Boise State students. Not only do the students learn from and challenge each other, but their habits and expectations can help change the culture of a campus.
More and more of our students and parents — especially those paying out-of-state tuition — expect that they and their Boise State students will complete their degrees on time and on budget. Fewer students and parents want to amass the expense of taking extra years to finish. That attitude is spreading.
Our first-time freshmen are more likely to stay on track as sophomores, and then as juniors and seniors. In less than a decade, our four-year graduation rate has more than doubled and the six-year rate has increased by more than two-thirds.
Assuring the timely completion of degrees is just a part of how Boise State keeps college affordable and attainable. For example, we offer Finish in Four Program to help students with academic planning, course registration and career guidance. If a student sticks with the program, Boise State guarantees the courses needed for degree completion.
Scholarships, our greatest need and our top philanthropic priority, remain the most direct way that we can impact the lives of students. When students stay focused on earning their diplomas and staying on track to graduate on time, these scholarship dollars are even more valuable.
When you look at our trajectory in enrollment, retention and graduation, you realize that improvements like these are exactly why Boise State has gone through such a dramatic transformation, and expended the incredible effort needed to more than double our graduate offerings, boost research efforts and become a metropolitan research university of distinction.
It is paying off — for students, families and the employers of Idaho.
Laura C. Simic is vice president for advancement at Boise State University.