Harding University, for the third consecutive year, has enrolled a record number of undergraduate students.
Total undergraduate enrollment for 2014 is up to 4,492 from last year’s 4,429. The addition of 63 undergraduate students represents a 1.4 percent increase.
The enrollment totals were bolstered by a record number of new students entering Harding for the first time. Freshman and transfer students accounted for 1,283 (28.6 percent) of the total undergraduate enrollment. The fall 2014 enrollment marks the fifth consecutive year Harding has added more than 1,000 new students.
Another reason undergraduate enrollment increased is the freshman to sophomore retention rate, which is 81.5 percent. This year, students represent 49 states and 44 foreign nations.
“Retention is a huge enrollment factor for a college or university. It is a key ingredient to sustaining growth. For seven consecutive years Harding’s retention rate has exceeded 80 percent,” said Provost Larry Long. “For private schools like Harding, the national average retention rate is approximately 70 percent.
“Retention is also an excellent indicator of how successfully a university is meeting the educational needs of its student body. Students stay committed to institutions, which provide the resources needed for achieving career goals. Our retention rate indicates Harding is meeting the needs of its students.”
Another major contributor to the steady retention rate is the University’s Center for Student Success. The center provides academic advising, coaching, tutoring and career counseling. Last year the center provided services to students totaling more than 4,200 hours.
The school received a total of 2,584 applications from new students for the 2014 fall semester, up more than three percent from the previous year. Harding has already received 812 applications for fall 2015, and 307 of those students have already been accepted.
Total headcount enrollment is 6,075, which compares to 6,295 in fall 2013. Graduate enrollment slipped to 1,583. The decrease in graduate enrollment was due to a decline in the number of part-time, non-degree seeking students, many who had only been enrolled in professional education development courses. Despite the drop in headcount, Harding was up in credit hours the equivalent of 22 full-time students this fall.
In addition to the Searcy campus, students from the University are also studying at international campuses in Australia, Chile, England, France, Greece, Italy and Zambia, plus professional centers in Rogers, Arkansas; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Memphis, Tennessee, and at the Harding School of Theology in Memphis.