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Mizzou’s freshman enrollment increase among highest in SEC

University’s official census numbers show freshman enrollment increased by 13 percent

September 21st, 2018

Story Contact: Liz McCune, 573-882-6212,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Mizzou is one of only two Southeastern Conference universities to experience double-digit growth in new freshmen, while several institutions saw declines in their incoming classes this fall.

Surging by 13 percent, the increase represents the second-largest jump in Mizzou’s freshman class during the past quarter-century. According to the university’s official fourth-week census report, Mizzou welcomed 4,673 first-time college students in the fall, up from 4,134 in 2017.

“Enrollment increases like this do not happen by accident, and I would like to express my gratitude to our many faculty, staff, alumni and friends who made this achievement possible,” Chancellor Alexander Cartwright said. “Mizzou is nearly 180 years old, and these numbers show me that our commitment and efforts to prepare the university for the future are paying off.”

The enrollment growth puts Mizzou near the top among SEC schools. Only one other conference university, Louisiana State University, reported double-digit growth while many universities experienced single- and double-digit declines, according to preliminary reports.

During the past year, the university introduced a suite of new scholarship and affordability initiatives. It began implementing an ambitious plan to double research funding during the next five years. And it completed a comprehensive analysis and plan to address the greatest challenges facing Missourians.

“We will not take for granted the trust that is placed in us to prepare future leaders or to provide solutions to the challenges facing Missourians,” Cartwright said. “From building the economy to discovering lifesaving medical advances to serving all 114 counties of the state, we strive to be the University for Missouri.”

The university’s freshman class also is more diverse and academically gifted. First-time college student minority enrollment increased from 778 last year to 1,015, with spikes in enrollment among African Americans, Hispanics and those who identify as multiracial. In addition, the class retained the university’s strong ACT average of 26, which is significantly higher than the state average of 20.4 and the national average of 21. At the same time, the university logged a record retention rate of 87.3, meaning nearly nine out of ten freshmen from last year returned to Mizzou this fall.

“A strong retention rate speaks to the effectiveness of the learning environment we offer. It’s gratifying to see that our students are excelling inside and outside the classroom, connecting with researchers in the lab and with leaders in the community,” said Latha Ramchand, who began as provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs in August. “The retention and graduation rates feed into growing enrollment resulting in a virtuous cycle of student success. At the same time, it is important to recognize that this is an ongoing process, and we must continue to make progress on this dimension. In short, we must embrace the notion that we not only admit students, we ‘adopt’ them.”

In addition to rising enrollment, Mizzou is experiencing increased support from alumni and friends of the university. For example, the Mizzou: Our Time to Lead campaign has raised more than $278 million for student support and scholarships.




Fall 2017 Fall 2018 Difference
First-Time Freshmen 4,134 4,673 +539/+13.0%
Freshmen with 30+ ACT 767 890 +123/+16.0%
Retention Rate 87.0% 87.3%* +0.3%
Minority Freshmen 778 1,015 +237/+30.5%
Total Enrollment 30,870 29,866 -1,004/-3.3%

* indicates record