A good first-day showing

UND sees increases in overall enrollment, as well as new freshmen and graduate students on Day 1

UND students file into the area in front of the Chester Fritz Library for the traditional new freshmen photo, which was taken Aug. 21 during Welcome Weekend 2021. Photo by Shawna Schill/UND Today.

If first-day enrollment numbers are any indication of how the University of North Dakota is navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest figures for 2021 suggest a resounding thumbs up.

UND admissions leaders were pleased to announce last week that UND’s first-day 2021 fall semester head count of 13,545 students was up nearly 1 percent from last year’s first-day tally, and nearly 1.5 percent more than the fall of 2019’s pre-pandemic Day 1 enrollment.

“We are certainly pleased with where our numbers are right now,” said Janelle Kilgore, vice provost for strategic enrollment management. “This past year, we have worked really hard to recruit students during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are happy to see students know UND is the place for them.”

Kilgore said the number of new freshman starting at UND took a big jump on the first day of classes compared to the same time last year. New freshman increased by 154 students, or nearly 8.7 percent, according to the first-day tally.

“We projected that our new freshmen numbers would be up, but we are very happy with where we actually ended up,” Kilgore said.

The surge in new freshmen drove growth for new students at UND overall, on the first day, up from 3,542 in 2020 to 3,623 this year, when all categories of new students are considered (graduate, transfers, medical, law, etc.)

Graduate growth

The story is much the same on the grad student side of the house, where UND saw an increase of 213 students, up from 3,233 on the first day last year to 3,446, this fall, about a 6.6 percent increase. UND graduate students are on campus during a special time, with the opening of the new Gershman Graduate Center on University Avenue.

The Graduate Center is located in the former J. Lloyd Stone House, which was the first President’s House and one of the first buildings to be erected on campus. The building’s recent and total renovation was made possible by Hal and Kathleen Gershman, longtime friends and supporters of UND from Grand Forks.

“We are gratified to see the hard work and efforts of so many across campus result in another increase in graduate enrollment,” said Chris Nelson, associate dean of the UND School of Graduate Studies.

“With the opening of our new Gershman Graduate Center, we plan to capitalize on this momentum and continue to grow attractive professional development and programming opportunities that support our upward trajectory in graduate education.”

UND’s official fall semester enrollment will be tallied on the North Dakota University System’s Census Day in late September. In the meantime, students will continue to make decisions on their educational pursuits. Traditionally, UND’s enrollment increases by several hundred between first-day count and Census Day.