Undergraduate Enrollment Climbing
By Ashley Washburn
This fall's freshman class of engineers is the largest since at least 1993, when the University of Nebraska-Lincoln began tracking enrollment by college.
Freshman enrollment this semester is 510, compared to 499 in fall 2005 and 455 in fall 2004. Transfer students are not included in those figures. The College of Engineering's total undergraduate enrollment is 2,449.
John Ballard, associate dean of academic affairs, said he couldn't pinpoint a reason for the college's growth but thought there were several factors.
The college may be reaping the benefits of making recruitment a priority, he said. The college hired a full-time recruitment coordinator two years ago; before that, recruitment duties were divided among faculty and staff.
In addition to making formal campus visits, many freshmen have participated in one of the college's educational programs for students in grades 6-12, Ballard said. These outreach events introduce teens to engineering and show them what UNL offers.
"If we can get them exposed to our faculty and students on campus, we can be effective," he said.
The job market for engineers also is rebounding after a slowdown from 2002 to 2005.
"You usually see a slight lag in enrollment until word gets out about what the job market is like," he said.
Ballard said the college could accommodate up to 3,000 students without hiring additional faculty or finding bigger classrooms-but that's assuming each major has a proportional number of students. Construction management and mechanical engineering are near capacity, but other programs have room to grow, he said.
UNL enrollment also increased this fall. First-time freshman enrollment jumped 8 percent, and overall enrollment rose 2 percent. According to a Sept. 7 university press release, the Office of Admissions has been successfully recruiting top students, transfer students and students from out-of-state suburban areas, in addition to Nebraskans.