USF Virtual Campus contributes to record enrollment
Aug. 28, 2013 FORT WAYNE, Ind.—At a Wednesday convocation and Mass, the University of Saint Francis (USF) announced record fall first-day enrollment, including a 20 percent increase in new students. The rise follows a record number of graduates this past May. The announcement came as part of the university’s official opening to the academic year.
According to figures given by university President Sister M. Elise Kriss, OSF, the university is welcoming 2,405 total learners, with 805 new students. The two percent growth from last year’s 2,360 first-day enrollment is largely attributable to online courses in the College of Adult Learning, in addition to generous financial aid packages to direct out of high school students, competitive pricing and placement success.
“With nearly 200 students enrolled in the Virtual Campus for the semester, the University of Saint Francis continues to make education accessible for working adults,” said Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management, J.P. Spagnolo. “Whether students are seeking an associate, bachelor or master degree, we have options to allow adults to meet their educational goals. Our programs are the right combination of high quality curriculum and continuous support to ensure success. That combination is allowing us to attract more adult students who understand the value a University of Saint Francis degree has in the job market.”
Multiple fully online degrees, including the Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing and the Master of Business Administration, offer a range of expertise to prepare graduates for emerging and thriving professions.
The university plans to add to its accelerated programs to attract adult learners who already have some college credit and are looking to finish a degree. A competitive pricing structure and a process to earn credit for prior learning makes the Virtual Campus an attractive option for busy adults balancing work and family obligations.
Interest in new options such as the university’s two- and four-year dance programs in collaboration with the Fort Wayne Ballet, and the fastest-growing program, the Bachelor of Science in Health and Exercise Science, have also fueled enrollment.
Enrollment has also been strong at the Crown Point campus, increasing three percent with the addition of the Associate of Science in Medical Laboratory Technician and Associate of Arts in Liberal Studies.
The provision of financial aid to 100 percent of first-time, full-time undergraduate students also helped to attract direct out of high school students. This year, the university will award over $14 million in institutional aid, according to the Financial Aid Office. In 2012-2013, average tuition after university, state and federal gift aid was $10,202 for full-time undergraduates—a figure competitive with public institutions. Of Indiana’s 31 private, non-profit colleges and universities, USF ranks in the bottom third on cost to attend.
The university’s reputation for student and instructional excellence is paying off for graduates. Ninety-four percent of 2012 bachelor degree graduates responding to the university's employment survey reported employment or full-time enrollment in a higher education program within six months of graduation. Co-op job opportunities prepare students to join companies after graduation or enter the workforce prepared to contribute on day one. Academic rigor and the incorporation of Catholic, Franciscan values into courses have led to graduates reported by many employers as their best hires.
During the convocation, President Kriss detailed news of the past academic year and plans and goals for the new year.
Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend officiated at the mass for the traditional opening of the school year.
The University of Saint Francis, founded in 1890 as a comprehensive university in the Catholic Franciscan tradition, offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs through the School of Health Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences, Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership, School of Professional Studies and School of Creative Arts. The university’s College of Adult Learning designs focused curriculum for working adults by offering online and accelerated programs, through its Virtual, Fort Wayne and Crown Point campuses. More than 2,300 students from a broad geographic region attend USF for its academic excellence.
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