More than 1,200 first-year students started classes at Butler University today, an increase of more than six percent over last year and the third-largest incoming class in the University’s history. The growth comes at a time when many other liberal arts institutions are struggling with enrollment.
The number of students graduating from Indiana high schools has declined over the past several years, and only about half of Indiana’s 2022 graduates are attending college this fall, according to the state’s Commission for Higher Education. Those trends have left many Indiana colleges and universities scrambling to meet enrollment goals, especially at small liberal arts colleges.
Butler officials stated that they anticipated the enrollment decline in Indiana high schools, and have made strategic investments that are already paying dividends. One of those strategies is to invest marketing dollars in areas and hire admissions representatives where the number of high school graduates is growing.
“Butler University’s brand awareness and academic reputation are growing both regionally and nationally,” Jerry Dueweke, Director of Admission, said. “There are a number of contributing factors, including a No. 1 ranking in US News & World Report’s list of top Midwest Universities and the national exposure that comes with competing in the BIG EAST athletics conference, among others. We’ve leveraged that exposure to hire recruiters in markets that have both a high awareness of our brand and growing high school enrollment. There’s evidence in this year’s incoming class that our approach is working.”
More than 53 percent of Butler’s incoming class is from out of state, Dueweke said. That includes 19 international students from 14 countries. Illinois sent the most students from out of state to Butler, with more than 17 percent of the class coming from the Chicagoland area alone. Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin, Colorado, Texas, Minnesota, and California round out the top 10.
Even with the increased attention on out-of-state markets, Butler remains the top choice for many Indiana graduates. This year’s incoming class includes 549 Hoosiers, representing a 12 percent increase over last year. The University said applications from Indianapolis Public Schools graduates increased 247 percent over the last decade.
This year’s incoming class is also one of Butler’s most ethnically diverse, with nearly 18 percent self-identifying as a student of color or Hispanic. Forty-eight students are 21st Century Scholars, a state-sponsored program for first-generation college students. The class also includes 42 valedictorians and 27 Lilly Scholars. The overall class GPA is 3.89.
The most popular majors this year are Biology, Exploratory Studies, Pre-Pharmacy, Exploratory Business, and Health Sciences. Pre-Pharmacy, Elementary Education, Biology, Exploratory Studies, Creative Media and Entertainment, and Music Industry Studies are the majors that saw the most growth over last year.
Butler began accepting applications for the incoming 2023 class on August 1. High school seniors must use the Common App this year to apply. More information is available at www.butler.edu/apply.