MICHIGAN TECH: More students, higher GPAs

Enrollment up 3.5 percent from one year ago

An aerial view of Michigan Tech University’s campus in Houghton is seen. The university reports that its enrollment is up a healthy 3.5 pecent this year over last. (Journal file photo)

HOUGHTON — Michigan Technological University’s fall enrollment is the highest it has been in 40 years.

The 7,230 students on campus this semester represent a 3.5% jump over last year. They include 1,463 first-year students.

Tech starts reaching out to students early in their high school years in a number of ways, including visiting schools, college fairs and social media, said Director of Admissions Beth Fitzpatrick. That focus increases in their junior and senior years.

“One of our main goals is to get them here,” she said. “That’s one of the best indications both for us and the student, that the student’s really interested in us, and it also gives us a chance to meet them and show what our campus has to offer.”

Tech is also one of more than 900 universities participating in the Common Application, which lets students apply online to multiple schools, Fitzpatrick said.

“They can literally just click and decide who they want to send it to,” she said.

While they know Tech isn’t going to be the best choice for every student, there are things that make it stand out, Fitzpatrick said. Tech’s reputation for academic excellence is becoming more widely known, and is the biggest drawing point for students.

They’re also seeing the positive outcomes for Tech graduates, Fitzpatrick said. Ninety-three percent of graduates find a job within six months of graduation. And they tend to be good ones: students earning graduate degrees in the class of 2022 had an average starting salary of $77,000.

Another part of the pitch is the student experience. Many students will be far from home, which comes with its challenges, but also opportunities, Fitzpatrick said.

“Not all students get to be challenged academically at day, and then go swim in Lake Superior at night and see the Northern Lights with their friends,” she said.

While Michigan contributes to be the biggest source of students, Tech also saw big jumps from several other states, particularly Illinois and Texas. The latter state, along with California and Colorado, has plenty of high-tech firms offering co-op opportunities, and many Tech alumni spreading the message about the university, Fitzpatrick said.

Tech also added new programs this year, including a new bachelor’s degree in data science in the College of Computing. After Finlandia University announced its impending closure last spring, Tech also acted quickly to establish a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Students from the program make up most of the approximately 30 Finlandia students who transferred to Tech for the fall, Fitzpatrick said.

As Tech’s student body gets bigger, it’s also becoming more diverse. For the first time, women make up more than 30% of Tech students, part of a decadelong increase.

Some of that could be due to Tech’s Summer Youth Programs, which has dedicated programs for women in engineering, Fitzpatrick said.

The jump in students hasn’t come at the expense of quality, Fitzpatrick said. This year’s incoming class had an average high-school GPA of 3.83, the highest in Tech’s history.

“While we’ve gained more students, we’ve upped the academic rigor of the students that are coming in, which is cool to see, too,” Fitzpatrick said.


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