University of Central Arkansas re-enrollment for the fall 2020 semester stands at 10,335 students. For the third consecutive year, the freshman-to-sophomore retention rate for full-time freshmen has set a new university record.

According to a press release that was issued Friday, Sept. 4, UCA’s retention rate is at 78.8%, which is up from 74.7% in 2018. 

Although the retention rate from freshman-to-sophomore is at a new university record, the overall enrollment has decreased. 

Director of Media Relations Amanda Hoelzman elaborated on the decrease. “At 10,335, fall 2020 total headcount enrollment is down from 10,869 last year. This represents a 4.9% decrease. This year’s overall enrollment number is influenced by approximately 175 fewer international students, 150+ fewer concurrent enrollments and a still to be calculated loss of out-of-state, first-time freshmen. Those three elements alone comprise a significant percentage of our normal numbers,” Hoelzman said.  

UCA President Houston Davis commented on the enrollment decrease as well, discussing the factors that led to the decrease. “Due to COVID-19, we had budgeted conservatively and for an expected enrollment decline,” Davis said. “As predicted, factors related to COVID have influenced concurrent, out-of-state and international enrollments.”

President Davis remained optimistic even though enrollment numbers have decreased. “We are pleased to see that enrollment exceeded our expectations and our student body remains over 10,000 strong,” Davis said. 

Provost Patricia Poulter addressed the success students have experienced thanks to efforts at UCA, which may influence the retention rate. “More students are succeeding because of the concentrated efforts by faculty and staff in making student success a priority. We continue to employ best practices in helping all students achieve their academic goals,” Poulter said. “We are committed to always improving the ways we provide a strong foundation for students: whether it be in classrooms, labs, studios, internships, practicum, service learning and leadership opportunities, affinity groups, cultural events and academic support services. We draw from research, data collection and analysis and meaningful conversations and actions to have a constant and consistent focus on student engagement.” 

 Despite the decline of overall enrollment, Poulter discussed the value of education to UCA students. “To have the retention numbers that we do, the highest that we have on record, especially in the time of COVID, speaks clearly about the value that students find in their education at UCA and the kinds of support they expect to be here for them under even the most unexpected circumstances,” Poulter said. 

Currently, it is unknown how UCA’s record-breaking retention rate this fall semester compares to other in-state institutions. The Arkansas Department of Education (ADHE) is collecting the enrollment reports from the other institutions of higher education in the state in order to prepare a press release with the information. The ADHE will issue the press release later this week on enrollment in all Arkansas institutions. 

For more information on UCA’s retention rate this fall 2020 semester, visit uca.edu

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