Elizabeth City State University trustees got some encouraging news Tuesday about the university's progress toward its goal of enrolling 1,800 students this fall.
Althea Riddick, who heads enrollment management at ECSU, told trustees at their regular quarterly meeting Tuesday that as of June 10, the university had received 2,438 completed applications from prospective freshmen and 209 from prospective transfer students. That's up from 2,260 freshman applications and 194 transfer applications at the same time last year.
The total number of completed applications received thus far is 2,647, up from 2,454 last year. That represents an 8-percent increase in each category: freshman applications, transfer applications and total applications.
The number of admitted applicants is also up — 13 percent. Last year, ECSU admitted 1,506 applicants. This year, the number is already 1,699.
Admitted freshman applicants is also up 13 percent from last year — 1,523 this year versus 1,343 in 2018. Admitted transfer applicants, meanwhile, have also increased — from 163 last year to 176 this year, an increase of 8 percent.
Riddick noted that applications for fall 2019 enrollment are still coming in. ECSU plans to continue accepting them through Aug. 1, she said.
"ECSU doesn't stop accepting applications like other institutions," Riddick said.
The university is working on building transfer enrollment and has staff working closely with community colleges such as College of The Albemarle, Martin, Halifax and Sandhills community colleges.
"That's where the growth is," Riddick said, referring to transfer enrollment.
Tony Hornthal, who was participating in his last meeting as an ECSU trustee, told Riddick she had done an extraordinary job growing enrollment. He noted she had faced a steep challenge when she took the job of managing enrollment a few years ago.
University officials told trustees that ECSU is also taking a close look at student retention.
Provost Farrah J. Ward said that in 2015, ECSU had a freshman enrollment of 254 and a freshman retention rate of 58 percent. In 2016, the number of freshmen dropped to 203 and the retention rate climbed to 74 percent — though it covered a much smaller number of students.
In 2017 freshman enrollment improved to 349 and the retention rate was 73 percent, which Ward called a positive indicator. It was good that the retention rate stayed nearly the same as enrollment increased, she explained.
Freshman enrollment in 2018 was 418 but the retention rate is not yet available.
The percentage of students pre-registered for fall classes at this time of the year, which Ward called "one of the key indicators for persistence," was 61 percent in 2017, 64 percent in 2018 and 83 percent this year.
After enrollment nose-dived in 2016 the university began rebounding and increasing its enrollment. In the 2018-2019 school year the institution began to benefit from the state's NC Promise initiative, which offers tuition of $500 a semester to in-state students and $2,500 a semester to out-of-state students.
Fall 2018 enrollment was 1,636, a 19 percent increase over the previous year.