ISU welcomes largest freshman class in 36 years, continued strong enrollment

Illinois State University students cross a campus bridge near the Bone Student Center on Sept. 6. The university announced the largest freshman class in 36 years and a 1.5 increase in enrollment to 20,989 students. (Photo by Jack McCarthy / Chronicle Media)

If it seems a little more crowded on the Illinois State University campus this fall there’s a good reason.

ISU has welcomed 4,147 freshmen to its student body for the 2023-24 academic year, its largest incoming class in 36 years.

Total enrollment stands at 20,989. This marks a 1.5 percent increase in total enrollment and a 4 percent increase in new freshmen.

“We are excited to welcome another large, diverse, and academically talented incoming class for the 2023-2024 academic year,” said Interim President Aondover Tarhule. “Illinois State’s continued strong enrollment is a testament to the University’s high quality academic programs, individualized attention, and commitment to student success.

“Students and their families recognize these elements combine to make a first-rate college experience. I am very proud of our faculty and staff whose hard work and dedication continue to advance Illinois State’s reputation as an excellent and welcoming institution.”

The University’s total student population includes 18,450 undergraduates and 2,539 graduate students. Official enrollment figures were computed after the 10th day of classes.

“Students continually tell us that Illinois State University feels like home. We are thrilled that so many students have decided to make this their second home, and we are equally excited to see their future successes on our campus and in our community,” said Jana Albrecht, associate vice president for Enrollment Management.

Illinois State consistently admits students with strong academic profiles. The academic achievement of this year’s freshman class continues that trend with a high school GPA of 3.64 on a 4.0 scale (more than 1,000 students earned 4.0 or better). The incoming freshman class also includes 398 new students in the Honors Program.

Illinois State’s student body is becoming more diverse as well; approximately 41 percent of this year’s freshman class come from traditionally underrepresented groups. Thirty-two percent of the total student population comes from traditionally underrepresented groups.

Last week, Southern Illinois University in Carbondale announced enrollment has grown for the first time since 2014. Overall enrollment for fall 2023 is 11,359 — 252 students, or 2.3%, more than last year. It is the highest overall boost in the number of students in 21 years and highest percentage increase in over 30 years.