The Fall 2022 numbers are in. New student enrollment is up, and so are UM-Dearborn’s graduation rates.
The university saw its top new student enrollment gains among master-level students (+20% compared to Fall 2021), with campus’ largest incoming international student class to date. In addition, UM-Dearborn’s overall international population is the highest recorded in campus history with more than 1000.
On the undergraduate side, UM-Dearborn saw a 6.6% growth in transfers — the first increase since 2017.
“We are seeing that we’re a popular choice among new students who see the benefits of commuting, flexibility and a Michigan degree,” said Vice Provost of Enrollment Management Melissa Stone. “Not only do they see the value in a UM-Dearborn education, they also see the benefit of completing their degrees and doing it within four years.”
With improved completion rates, there are some strong trends in enrollment that campus leadership is excited to continue to build upon in the coming years. As Chancellor Domenico Grasso reported to the U-M Board of Regents last week, the four-year graduation rate for First Time In Any College (FTIAC) students saw an increase of 3% over the prior year, and the transfer three-year completion went up 3.7%.
“We continue to implement the priorities derived from and identified during our strategic planning process. Our focus on enrollment is reflective of this important work,” Grasso said. “I recognize and thank our dedicated faculty and staff team for their hard work during this post-pandemic period. These results are reflective of a team effort.”
One strategic change was a transition to a block-rate tuition model, where undergraduate students who take 12 credits or more per semester pay the same flat rate. This encourages full-time enrollment and faster completion. Undergraduate students taking full course loads — which often leads to a more focused graduation path — was 76.3% in 2022, compared to 75.1% in 2021 and 74.5% in 2020.
Not only does this benefit students, it also helps Michigan create a prepared 21st century workforce and stay economically competitive. To close the current skills gap and prepare residents of the state for jobs today and in the future, the governor’s office is leading an initiative to increase the number of working-age adults with a skill certificate or college degree from 49% today to 60% by 2030.
“College education reaches beyond just preparing one individual — it is a transformative experience that impacts families and entire communities,” Stone said. “The university will continue developing innovative ways to support highly qualified, talented and motivated students to succeed in a 21st century workforce.”
The university continues to attract students in the southeast Michigan region, with strong representation from Wayne (4,657 students), Oakland (954 students), Macomb (353 students) and Washtenaw (478 students) counties.
But even with all the good news, total enrollment is slightly down (1%) compared to last year. Fall 2022 UM-Dearborn enrollment is 8,224 students (6,117 undergraduates, 2,107 graduate-level), compared to 8,331 in 2021.
There are several reasons why there weren’t overall enrollment gains even with a larger Fall 2022 class. Stone noted that the university is still rebuilding from smaller prior year classes, especially in the transfer pipeline. There also is a new trend of high school students delaying starting college, as reflected with a 79% increase in deferrals compared to last year.
There’s also the above-mentioned Fall 2022 data that shows more UM-Dearborn students are finishing faster. “Graduating our students quicker is a good thing — yes, it decreases enrollment, but it shows that we are successful in our mission,” Stone said.
UM-Dearborn’s retention rates are stable and the focus continues to be on implementing innovative strategies to further enhance college readiness and student success.
Provost Gabriella Scarlatta said that an important part of making a UM-Dearborn education accessible and navigable is providing support to students once they arrive. “The university is prioritizing support services such as college preparation and resource guidance, identified in our strategic plan,” she said.
To help students realize their graduation goals in a timely fashion, the university offers resource-connecting initiatives like the Wolverine Mentor Collective, and scholarships like the Dearborn Comeback and the Go Blue Guarantee. Last year 1200 students took advantage of the Go Blue Guarantee, a free tuition program for high-achieving students in families earning $65,000 or less. This year, 374 more Go Blue Scholars joined the Dearborn Wolverine community. UM-Dearborn also provides extensive financial aid support to students outside of the program.
“Chancellor Grasso asked that we ensure our financial aid model focuses our institutional funds on those students who need it the most,” Stone said. “We are dedicated to access and affordability. We’ve since adopted a need-first financial aid model to make a UM-Dearborn education more affordable for traditionally underserved populations.”
Another way to keep focused on access — but ensure that there’s the needed educational foundation — is by creating cohesive pipelines with two-year colleges.
Stone said the university recently launched its Destination Dearborn program, which provides enhanced resources and support to incoming community college students in order to prepare them early in their academic journey for their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree.
“Many students gain experiences in community colleges that prepare them with foundational skills needed to succeed at UM-Dearborn and attain their dream jobs,” Stone said. “By developing intentional partnerships with these colleges, we can engage with students early and guide them on their pathway to earning a University of Michigan-Dearborn degree.”
Scarlatta said students attend UM-Dearborn to seize opportunities for a better life and the campus has faculty and staff giving their all to help these students reach their goals.
“We know this education can change the trajectory of our students’ lives,” she said. “We will continue to work toward positive outcomes. Our campus provides a plethora of academic support, from our learning centers, to advising, tutoring and supplemental instruction. Moreover, this year, we are collectively focusing on students’ mental health in order to help them prosper in the classroom and in life.”
Get more information on UM-Dearborn’s Fall 2022 enrollment and trends.
Article by Sarah Tuxbury.