GVSU sees increase in first-year enrollment, second-highest in school history


Grand Valley's class of 2022 come together to form the university's letters. Courtesy / GVSU Facebook

Jenny Adkins

For the 2018-2019 school year, Grand Valley State University welcomed in approximately 4,000 first-year students for the seventh time. This is one of its largest first-year classes, with it being second in Grand Valley history. In Michigan, this is recognized as one of the highest freshman enrollment rates.

According to Philip Batty from the Office of Institutional Analysis, the last time Grand Valley saw record-breaking numbers was in 2016, welcoming a class of 4,380 students. 

This year, GVSU’s total enrollment is 24,677 students, with a first-year class of 4,369 students. While Michigan is seeing a decline in high school graduates, President of Grand Valley Thomas Haas notes that this freshman class provides a four percent increase from the previous academic year. 

“Considering the demographic challenges being in a downward trend, to have an increase of over four percent in the freshman class is something we are truly proud of,” Haas said. “What I think GV is offering is relevant programs. We are focused on a student-centered model and people are choosing us because they can see them succeeding within a program here; I believe we’ve created a good choice for very talented students.”

In addition, numbers show an increase in students of color and diversity. This year, there was a six percent increase in students of color, rising from 678 students to 719. With that, the total percentage of racial and ethnic minorities ticked up from 17.3 percent to 17.4 percent. 

Along with the spike in new students, Haas noticed that adult learners are now coming to Grand Valley to earn their undergraduate degree.

“Having an array of programs helps succeed in professional programs, and it’s important to the students who are choosing us,” Haas said. “We have something very significant which is in the Liberal Arts School. Students develop skills, critical thinking, communication, appreciation of inclusion and diversity; that is a factor that distinguishes us. I am really happy with those types of programs that focus on student success but provide more rigor inside and outside the classroom.”

Furthermore, among a wide variety of classes, Grand Valley provides a Career Services Fair to turn learning into opportunities. 

“We are sold out for the career services program this year. We have 235 employers that we are providing students,” Haas said. “It’s never happened this early. We have such an interest in employers and they are looking at us to provide them the talent that they need.”

Faculty and staff play a key role in a student success. President Haas enjoys reflecting back on freshman orientation and how this is the first step Grand Valley takes toward providing the best academic opportunities.

“We had faculty, staff and students in orientation to make sure students had answers to their questions and made the right choices. That attention to that individual to ensure they have the best advising, the best array of programming, core curricular activities – all of that fits into a great collegiate experience for undergraduates,” Haas said. 

Grand Valley State University has been chosen by “Best Value” and “Best Public Regional University” by U.S. News and World Report. More than that, Princeton Review named Grand Valley among the “Best in the Midwest,” and for the past two decades, Grand Valley has been named one of “America’s 100 Best College Buys” by Institutional Research and Evaluation.

“I wanted to touch on that. I am very proud that we continue to hold that title,” Haas said. “We continue to be a good value for the dollar.”