Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Does size really matter?

According to first day enrollment numbers at both UND and NDSU, the school to the south counted 276 more students than UND this year. In other words, for the first time in the two institutions' histories, NDSU is larger than UND. UND counted 12,011 students (a 2.5% drop from last year) and NDSU counted 12,287 (a 2.5% increase from last year). Read the Herald story.

Final fall enrollment figures for both universities won't be in for a few weeks and will likely show larger enrollment numbers. In the past, UND usually picks up more students before this final enrollment tally than NDSU does, so it is very possible that UND will still end up retaining its status as largest university in the state.

I'm asking you, do numbers like this matter? Would it be so terrible if UND ends up having a few less students than NDSU? Personally, I'm very fond of UND being larger than NDSU. In my opinion, UND is without a doubt the state's flagship institution of higher education and it is only logical that enrollment numbers should portray this fact. Still, I'm not too worried about NDSU having a few more students on its campus.

What I am more concerned about is if the current trend of small enrollment declines at UND will continue in the future. We've been slowly losing a few students each year for the past few years; that needs to stop soon. In all reality, I think the current enrollment trends at both institutions are liable to change in the near future. I wouldn't be suprised to see UND overtake NDSU again in a year or two...in fact, I expect it. Get to work UND!

47 comments:

ec99 said...

Quantity of students is a pretty untrustworthy way to measure the value of a university. Perhaps NDSU should be asked how many students were admitted this fall who fall below minimum admission standards.

Matthew said...

As long as you don't start acting like you have the power to close a bunch of schools in the state "just because we don't need them" like some assholes on the siouxsports forums.

Anonymous said...

Well said ec99! Bigger ain't necessarily better. [Perhaps both UND and NDSU should be asked how many students were admitted (each year) that do not meet admissions standards-I think the answer is 'as many as we are allowed to'.] Which is larger, Yale or Harvard? Do you know, do you care, and is the larger one better just because it is larger? I think it is inevitable that NDSU will become larger than UND, if for no other reason than the perceived attraction of the larger city of Fargo. UND should tighten enrollment standards [and grading standards] and gracefully become the smaller, more selective institution. Though it is probably heresy to say so in GF, UND would probably be a better institution with only about 10,000 students.

ec99 said...

"UND would probably be a better institution with only about 10,000 students."

At least then students could have easier access to getting the courses they need. But, and in spite of Matthew's thoughts, ND does have too many colleges; 11 in a state with a population the size of Omaha. The consequences can be seen at UND. Its legislative appropriation represents 22% of the UND budget. So, tuition comes to pay a greater part of the bill. More students...more tuition money.

Anonymous said...

No. The Nickel Trophy is what counts and we all know whose case that gem sits in.

Seriously, both schools are good and enrollment should't be an important measure. We tend to get into these pissing contests over things between the two communities. I agree with those who say that if measurements are important to anyone, we should look at more important indicators such as GPA, graduation rates, faculty quality etc.

Matthew said...

In a bit of a down mood right now.

It's just that the state system should be available to the whole state--including, I think, non-traditional students who may not be able to move somewhere else to take classes to further their knowledge. Would you want to take this away from them?

ec99 said...

"Would you want to take this away from them?"

It's really moot; NODakotans and their Legislature have decided convenience decided the question, much like small K-12 districts across the state refuse to consolidate. But that too has its consequences. Read the catalogs of some of the colleges, who they have on their faculty, what the curriculum and major requirements are. How what they have to offer in the line of an education compares to the larger colleges. Moreover, the smaller schools draw from regions in which high school graduates are drying up, which means their enrollments will continue to drop. And you're not going to get people from out of state to go to Dickinson or Bismarck. For many of those who do go to UND, GF is a backward village. But, as I say, ND's aversion to change will mean the the higher ed status quo will continue.

Anonymous said...

ec99- If you every checked out the student populations at Dickinson State and Williston State you would find a lot of out of state students, they are both fairly close to Montana and draw quite a few students from the eastern half of that state. Dickinson also draws some students from northern South Dakota. Most of the smaller colleges are built into the state constitution so it would be very difficult to close them.

Anonymous said...

Leave the small colleges alone. They are in the state constitution and serve a legitimate function. Just stop allowing them to convert to universities. They serve better as junior or community colleges. What we really don't need is two research universities 80 miles apart in a low population state with a shrinking number of high school students. We are recruiting out-of-state students to compensate. I doubt out-of-state tuition covers the cost, so we are subsidizing out-of-state students with our tax dollars in order to keep up our numbers.

Imagine said...

For the last 10 years NDSU has been very proactive in recruiting and marketing. While, IMHO, UND has just sat still being "the flagship"....
NDSU's hard work and diligence has paid off. (and I am a UND alum. come on UND!!!)

While it is highly unlikely that NDSU will ever overtake UND (Law school, med school, aviation etc..) Students mean dollars. Tri-college offerings are quite appealing...

ben said...

I wonder about those tri-college deals down in Fargo...I am wondering if NDSU gets to count all of the college students who end up taking one class at SU while pursuing their major at Concordia or MSU-M...anybody know the answer? I would imagine that would skew the numbers up quite a ways.

Anonymous said...

When UND tried to open an office in Fargo NDSU's president whined so loud to the State Board that they had to close it. Chapman gets whatever he wants so don't expect UND to do a lot of recruiting in Fargo.

I too am a UND grad and don't give a damn about numbers. Let's just keep offering good education.

Anonymous said...

I am reading typical Grand Forks reaction to something positive out of Fargo....Excuses and discrediting the reality. The fact is that NDSU, particularly Chapman, has done a very good job to increase their enrolment and UND has been resting on its laurels.

Take the D-1 move, UND just keeps hanging their hat on Hockey and feeling sad that NDSU made the move first. They have their blinders on about the other positives and fail to realize that outside of Grand Forks other sports particularly football are far more popular.

Anonymous said...

Overall I think UND is starting to get things right, but UND has suffered from a lack of decent housing in recent years. University Place and new aerospace dorm may help to change that.

One thing I can't tolerate is to blame UND's declining enrollment on GF's population. Many major universities are located in towns much smaller than GF.

Anonymous said...

"Many major universities are located in towns much smaller than GF."

Name one.

Anonymous said...

West Virginia for one. Morgantown, WV, Pop: 28,000

Anonymous said...

Oklahoma State in Stillwater, OK. Pop: 39,065 for another

I could go on...

Anonymous said...

and they are major?

Anonymous said...

Yup, by any definition. Check out their enrollments, athletic programs, research.

Anonymous said...

The point is, they have much larger enrollments than UND, yet their hometowns, located in low density, rural states, are considerably smaller than Grand Forks.

Anonymous said...

I personally don't feel that Cambridge, MA is all that big. Household population is only around 86,000. Not quite as small as GF but considering Harvard has 20,000+ students i think it can be pretty comparable.

Anonymous said...

While you're right about the size comparison, Cambridge is part of the Boston metro, so provides both a huge pool of potetial students to draw from as well as a plethora of things for college students to do.

Anonymous said...

OKstate has two large cities (Tulsa and OKC) within an hour or so driving distance. WE ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. The closest *large* city in the US is Minneapolis... over 4 hours away. You can't just compare universities by the population of the town they are situated in.

Anonymous said...

UND increased its enrollment standards a couple of years ago and that was not mentioned in the Herald article, so I would think that the numbers are still being affected by that. NDSU has not changed their enrollment standards. NDSU made the jump to Division 1 with little research, because they wanted to be first. UND still has better athletic facilities than NDSU.

Anonymous said...

And there's also another major university they compete with for students...OU.

The point is: UND would only hurt itself and diminish its reputation if it thinks it can't compete with NDSU for students because it's situated in a smaller city. That was the original statement I took issue with.

Anonymous said...

SDSU has about 9,208 students and makes up about half of Brookings population of 18,504

Whistler said...

As someone said UND increased their enrollment standards to in part limit enrollment.

Now that enrollment is limited what's the big deal.

I think I'd rather have more kids finish up the semester (and eventually graduate) than just accepting anybody.

Anonymous said...

Especially when these students will spend 4-5 years on their college education and either student loans up the wazoo or their parents are paying the bills. It is a shame for some programs (where ever they are) who admit students that clearly have poor potential to benefit from the degree.

Anonymous said...

i don't believe UND has to continue to outnumber NDSU to sustain its credibliity or fulfill its mission...especially if the shrinking enrollment is due to higher standards.

But I DO think that if UND desires higher enrollment, it should not blame GF's size or lack of cultural and recreational opportunities as the reason for not meeting that goal.

Anonymous said...

it is not about GF or Fargo it is about UND and NDSU.
NDSU is kicking UND's ass right now in recruiting...period...

They started an active campaign many years ago, across the board, to increase enrollment.

This is without hockey, aviation, med school, law school, the ralph etc...they are just beating the streets, all over the nation...

(I am a UND alum...undergrad and masters)

Anonymous said...

I feel that an educational comparison between these two institutions is a bit unnecessary, since they each have completely different strengths and weaknesses. UND is strong in Aviation, Medical, Nursing, Law and Business, whereas NDSU has it strengths in Engineering and Agriculture. We could be seeing a shift simply due to desired degrees of the upcoming high school graduates.

I think recruitment is important and agree that UND is failing at this, but recruitment does not explain everything. I also feel that the more stringent enrollment standards at UND may be partially attributing to this shift, especially for those students who are undecided.

ben said...

Remeber that UND's stated enrollment GOAL (in UND's strategic plan) is 12,000 students right now. Seems to me that they are doing a very fine job of meeting the goal. IF UND wants to expand beyond that - which I am sure they will in the future - it is obvious that they will need more housing, better parking, and more money.

Imagine said...

I am wondering about admission requirements. I don't think they are that different?? I am going to check.

Anonymous said...

It's funny that Grand Forks Guy said that UND is the state's flagship institution, while NDSU has 1) More degrees, 2) More research dollars, 3) More doctorates, 4) Better athletics, and now, 5) More students. There's a new champ, UND folks. Deal with it.

Anonymous said...

And you are a new chump.

Imagine said...

personally I have seen it coming for at least five years....

Anonymous said...

Quite a few UND students are ending up going to Northland College in East Grand Forks, their enrollment numbers are up again this fall and they are planning a large building expansion project next year. It is no longer "the tech".

ben said...

prove that NDSU has more doctorates and research dollars. I am pretty sure both of those statements are way off base.

Anonymous said...

They actually do have more doctorates according to their website, however they list the doctorates that can be attained throught the Tri-college same with undergrad degrees. So technically they have less than UND if they were not in the Tri-college. As for research dollars, I have no clue but according to USnews (I think) UND has significantly more endowment dollars. NDSU $369,753 - UND $8,397,873, I'd be shocked if NDSU had more research dollars.

Anonymous said...

found the incoming research dollars for FY2006
$94.3 million UND
$70.5 million NDSU

Anonymous said...

I think NDSU is just doing it the old fashioned way "hard work".

as an educator in GF, NDSU is waaaaay more in touch with my students than UND...has been this way for years...

Anonymous said...

It was just a few years ago NDSU students went very public with complaints across campus about not being able to understand many of their instructors. Now that's way in touch. The reality is that we all have our preferance and loyalty-mine being a UND graduate along with my kids. In the end it is very nice to have the great colleges we have along the eastern part of North Dakota and that we can make choices.

Anonymous said...

try to put he crack pipe down while you are composing your thoughts...

Anonymous said...

try to spell "the" correctly. Pass the pipe. NDSU grad, eh?

Whistler said...

This threads missing something.

Q. How do you get the NDSU graduate off of your front steps.

A. Pay him for the pizza.

It had to be done.

Anonymous said...

Ummm, check your sources. NDSU is in fact a larger research institution than UND. ~100m to ~75m.

Anonymous said...

http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/profiles/data/ess_ranking.cfm#E009266