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Ball State University sees freshman enrollment drop 8 percent

Ball State students eat and talk in a dining hall during the first week of classes. (Photo: Ball State University on Facebook)

Unlike some other large Hoosier public colleges, Ball State University welcomed a smaller freshman class this year. 

The 3,278 students represent an eight percent drop from the previous freshman class.

At the same time, Purdue University and Indiana University-Bloomington had record freshmen enrollment.

Ball State president Geoffrey Mearns says the numbers show which students Ball State heavily recruits.

“We as an institution have been historically very much focused on first-time, full-time freshman as, really, the entry point into our undergraduate educational experience.”

Mearns says Indiana has seen a decrease in Hoosier high school graduates in the last few years. And state data shows a fewer number of those are choosing to go to college.

Also recently, Purdue and IU have begun to accept “test optional” applications –considering other student merits than scores for entrance exams like the SAT. It’s a move Ball State made three years ago, and it’s attracted more applicants to all schools. Of this year’s Ball State freshman class, 65 percent applied as “test optional.”

Read More from 2019: Ball State Sees Record Enrollment And Says Test-Optional Applications Helped

In a positive trend, though enrollment at Ivy Tech Community College's Muncie campus has decreased by more than 70 percent in the last five years, transfer students from Ivy Tech to Ball State have remained essentially level for the last three years.

Ball State Vice President For Enrollment Planning and Management Paula Luff says the school is preparing new recruitment strategies that include a focus on different types of potential students – including more transfer and international students.