University Park, Pa. -- As a fifth straight year of record applications and official 2010 enrollment figures indicate, Penn State remains one of the most popular flagship institutions of higher education, for undergraduate, graduate, online, law and medical students.
While enrollment remains stable at University Park, as planned, several Commonwealth Campuses and the World Campus have experienced notable increases that have contributed to a total University enrollment of 95,833 students.
Based on an annual "snapshot" taken at the end of the sixth week of fall semester classes, Penn State's total fall 2010 enrollment is up 1,532 students over last year. This includes 8,524 students worldwide who are pursuing their studies fully online through the World Campus, a 20 percent increase over last year. Not counted in this number are students attending a Penn State campus who also may enroll in selected online courses offered through the World Campus.
This year, Penn State received more than 115,000 applications across the University -- once again a new record and approximately 6,000 more than in 2009. Of particular note are increases for the University's two professional schools. Law school applications exceeded 5,000, a 31 percent increase over 2009, for about 225 spots available. Applications to the Penn State College of Medicine increased by 7 percent. Nearly one in five applicants to U.S. medical schools applies to Penn State, with more than 7,600 applications vying for 145 medical student seats in the entering class.
During a time of persistent economic challenges, individuals seeking to continue their education are turning to Penn State, which was named recently in a Wall Street Journal study as corporate recruiters' top choice for the most prepared and academically well-rounded graduates.
A total of 44,034 students are enrolled and in residence at University Park, an increase of just 36 students over fall 2009. There are 7,248 first-year students enrolled this year at University Park. Future University Park enrollments likely will remain in this zone, according to University officials, reflecting the high demand for a Penn State education and the need to provide access both to students who are beginning their studies at University Park and those who start at Commonwealth Campuses and subsequently move to University Park. About half of all students who start their studies at campuses change location to University Park after two years when they enter their majors.
The University this year also has enrolled more students at its Commonwealth Campuses, for a total of 33,977 at the 19 undergraduate locations across the state. Among growth levels at Commonwealth Campuses, Penn State Lehigh Valley in the east saw a 9.5 percent increase in enrollment, while Penn State Wilkes-Barre grew by 7.7 percent and Penn State Mont Alto experienced a 5.9 percent increase. In western Pennsylvania the New Kensington campus saw a 6.5 percent increase and Beaver campus enrollment grew by 6 percent. In central Pennsylvania, enrollment at Harrisburg expanded by 5.3 percent. (See chart.)
The percentage of Pennsylvania high school graduates going to college appears to have peaked, and is projected to continue to decline through 2014, as reflected in the decline of applications from Pennsylvanians over the last two years.
Penn State President Graham Spanier has long noted this demographic shift in Pennsylvania while addressing the need for displaced workers to seek additional education. "Penn State has experienced continuous years of record-high applications, indicating a serious need and demand for Penn State to open its doors wider," Spanier said. "No institution plays a more pivotal role in training the next generation of leaders or in the future success of our state's economy."
In his remarks to the University's Board of Trustees in July, Spanier noted that out-of-state acceptances had increased by 17 percent compared with 2009. "This means that out-of-state students will comprise one-third of the incoming class," he said. He added that almost 10 percent of Penn State's entering class would be international students and welcomed a record number who were admitted to University Park at the start of the fall 2010 semester. One of Penn State's strategic goals is to internationalize the University, specifically undergraduate students.
Enrollment of minority students including those from the World Campus grew from 13,823 in 2009 to 15,194 this fall, an increase of 9.9 percent.
Detailed student enrollment figures are available at the Penn State Fact Book online.