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K-State Today

January 19, 2016

Letter from the V.P. for Student Life and Dean of Students Pat Bosco

Submitted by Pat Bosco

Dear faculty and staff,

I thought you would find interesting some of the demographics released from the Kansas Board of Regents for the fall 2015 new student class:

  • We remain the No. 1 choice among Kansas high school graduating seniors, actually increasing our lead over our top in-state competitor.
  • We enrolled, once again, a record number of domestic multicultural students.
  • We increased our average ACT composite score for new domestic students for the fifth consecutive year from 23.6 to almost 25.

We achieved these designations in a year where significant changes were made to the state's requirements for admission to all of the Regent schools. At first review, it appears that fewer Kansas students enrolled in any postsecondary institution. Even though the number of Kansas high school graduation seniors remained about the same, there were 1,000 fewer students going to community colleges and about 500 fewer Kansas students enrolling in four-year schools — the lowest postsecondary participation rate for our state that I can remember.

While the rising cost of attendance, self-selection and confusion regarding the new admission criteria among students, high school counselors and parents could be contributing factors to the decline in postsecondary enrollment as reported above, we are thankful that Kansas State University still made progress on important enrollment goals.

Special thanks to New Students Services, including our admissions representatives, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, Student Financial Assistance, the college dean's offices, faculty, academic advisors and our Student Life professionals who help us present the K-State brand to prospective students and parents every single day.

To help highlight the demographics and achievements of our new students, we have prepared a summary document PDF similar to one I shared last spring.

Enrollment infographic

As you can see, we continue to enroll students with the highest financial need in the state. Our students qualify for more financial assistance than any student body with approximately 25 percent qualifying for Pell grants. One out of five of our freshmen have earned a 29 ACT score or higher, and four out of 10 are first-generation students.

When I say we have the brightest freshmen class in our school's history, I am referring to the substantial increases in ACT composite scores for incoming domestic students. We have increased the number of students with 29 or higher ACT composite scores, from about 12 percent of our freshman class to approximately 20 percent of our freshman class representing higher achievement on the ACT.

Given this, our freshman-to-sophomore retention rate also is at an all-time high — almost 84 percent — and our average freshmen GPA continues to increase each fall. As a matter of fact, K-State has always enjoyed the highest retention rate compared to any other school in the state — public or private — since the Regents started keeping track. 

More good news, students enrolled in the Plan for Success program earned a 2.63 GPA during the fall 2015 semester with a 94-percent retention rate. While these student were admitted by exception and narrowly missed the Regent's new criteria mentioned earlier, they demonstrated enough promise that they were given a chance to be successful. Early indicators show our intentional structured investment in them may be paying off. 

Although it is too early to make predictions for this fall, we are ahead in scholarship applications received and awards made, applications remain steady and our residence hall contracts are doing very well. The future opening of Wefald Hall in August 2016 has had a positive effect on interest in housing for next fall.

An effective enrollment management program includes a strong commitment to retention. We are not a "billboard" or an "input" school. We are a school that relies on word of mouth and the fact that our students successfully begin their careers and are accepted to professional schools at an impressive rate. Students and families are most appreciative of our collective efforts to present the K-State brand of "putting students first" both in and outside the classroom.

As faculty, staff and student life professionals, you should be very proud of what we collectively do on a day-to-day basis. As we celebrate our commitment to student success, we know none of this is possible without a caring and, most importantly, responsive faculty and staff. Part of what makes this university great is that we always want to do better. By working together to find "K-State solutions," we can continue to improve our graduation and retention rates, reduce student debt and continue to make our wonderful university welcoming and safe for everyone. Thank you for your contribution.

Congratulations and best wishes. It is my honor to serve you.

Pat Bosco
Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students