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Freshmen retention above average

Bradley’s freshmen retention rate is above the national average for private schools, but this year’s freshmen enrollment is lower than what the university wanted.
At 87.6 percent, Bradley is about 5 percentage points above the 82.5-percent private school national average. This means 87.6 percent of Bradley freshmen return as sophomores, Interim Executive Director of the Center for Student Support Services Barbara Carraway said.
She also said the retention rate was “very good” for the university, and it has usually been higher than the national average.
The university employs retention programs to keep the rate high, she said.
But while the retention rate is strong, the number of freshmen enrolled this year is lower than the university’s goal.
Director of Admissions Marketing and Communications Tom Richmond said Bradley’s enrollment goal is 1,080 freshmen, but only 1,032 are enrolled.
He said the university received a record 5,932 freshmen applications, but enrolled four percent fewer freshmen than in previous years.
“While we would like to have had another 50 students, we have a talented, diverse and enthusiastic freshmen class,” Richmond said.
Fall 2008’s freshmen enrollment is the least number of students for the past five years, Richmond said.
And he said while there are a number of reasons a freshman class’s size may vary, the economy this year could have had an effect.
“A key factor this year was the difficult economy for many families making a college decision,” he said.
Richmond said admissions will be aiming for a Fall 2009 freshman class of 1,080 again while placing emphasis on increasing the number of students from outside Illinois. He said admissions expects to see an increase in out-of-state enrollment by next year.
He also said the recent changes and additions to campus could have an effect on enrollment.
“We believe that the opening of the Markin Family Student Recreation Center, ongoing construction of our Athletic Performance Arena and plans to expand and renovate Westlake Hall will make Bradley more competitive for students,” he said.
Other changes Richmond said could have an effect on enrollment include the new pre-law center and an upcoming sports communication major.
“We will continue to evaluate our curriculum to make it more relevant to students who will be competing in the global economy,” he said.
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