Excluding medical and pharmacy students, ETSU has a total of 12,788 students — 10,623 undergraduate students and 2,165 graduate students — enrolled in classes, a decrease from last year.

“We report enrollment to the Tennessee Board of Regents on the 14th day of class,” said Ramona Williams, vice provost for enrollment services and management at ETSU.

“We have had a drop in our number of students who were at the age to attend college.”

Williams said enrollment rates are like a trough — they go down, but eventually come back up — and sometimes it takes longer than expected for enrollment figures to increase.

“There are fewer traditional college aged students now than there were, say five years ago,” Williams said. “Hopefully with scholarships and financial aid, students will be able to come to school and stay until they finish.”

There are certain factors that affect ETSU’s enrollment levels, including a decline in birthrates and ongoing economic issues.

“When you talk about retention, generally you think of it as a fall-to-fall retention rate, and it’s on a cohort of students called first-time freshman,” Williams said.

National comparisons are also based on that freshman cohort, meaning full-time, first-time, degree-seeking students.

“Most students start in the fall semester, but we do have new students that start in the spring, and it may take awhile for our numbers to get back to the same place as they were,” Williams said.

Many college freshmen do not know what to expect when they come to college, but ETSU has implemented several policies to help retain students, including early semester progress reports, follow ups with advisers and an early alert system.

“We want more students to enroll, and we want more students to graduate so they can go on and pursue their dreams, whatever it is,” Williams said. “We want to get them here, help them be successful and help them graduate.”