Enrollment rates at APU have shifted across multiple demographics
Over the past five years, Azusa Pacific enrollment rates have been changing across multiple demographics. Specifically, statistics show a decrease in general enrollment rate and an increase in both female and Hispanic students.
Enrollment rates have been following a slight downward trend, ranging from 10,755 in 2014 to 9,926 in 2018, according to APU’s annual reports. Executive Director of Institutional Research, Chris Olson, Ph.D., said there has been a decline in traditional undergraduate enrollment, leading to a loss of around 500 students over the past five years. This matches the overall, cumulative decrease which includes graduate and professional enrollment.
Olson credits the decrease in student enrollment to the changing demographics of traditional undergraduate students across the nation.
“The high school age pool is so different,” Olson said. “If you look across public data it’s a similar trend.”
Along with the general enrollment rates, there also have been changes in multiple demographics within the overall enrollment, including gender. Although the changes are not drastic, the annual university reports show the percentage of female students has been growing.
“It’s been about two to one for quite a while, for the most part,” Olson said.
Olson said the gender dynamics between faculty members has shifted as well, with more female faculty members being brought in.
“Over the last six years, it’s gone from majority male to majority female … the faculty is directly related to [the students],” he said.
The enrollment rates have also shifted between undergraduate and graduate students. This specific demographic is one of the most visible changes over the past five years, with a six percent jump in graduate enrollment between 2015 and 2016 according to the annual reports.
Using a line graph that tracks the changing demographics of enrollment over the past five years, Olson showed that the graduate population has grown by about 600, more than a 10 percent increase.
Olson suggested this change is the response to a shrinking number of undergraduate students as more non-traditional graduate students are coming in, as well as the number of high school graduates that have graduated over the past five years.
According to Olson, professional students are categorized as nontraditional undergraduates. For example, they might be married or have a job. Since students are less likely to follow a traditional education path than their predecessors, the increase in professional students comes as a result of a change in society.
Another difference in enrollment rates is the increase in Hispanic versus white students. In regards to this change, Olson pointed out, “numbers … for Hispanic students are increasing by 200 folks so you’re looking at maybe [a] 15 percent increase over five years in the number of Hispanic students … It’s because of our state demographics and the demographics across the country.”
Analyzing this data further, Olson said one of the challenges APU faces now is creating a culture that is more conducive to student success of varying ethnicities.
“Being a predominantly white institution, our culture is built upon that and reflects that … [and to] a non white person, perhaps Hispanic… [it’s] very obvious [that] this is a white culture that [they’re] a part of now.”
Because of this, Olson pointed out that APU needs to find a way to mirror this expanding demographic shift in our culture here on campus. The shifts in enrollment rates directly influence the culture and environment on campus. Knowing how they have grown or decreases in the past years will help to build a campus that reflects the diversity found in the numbers.