NAPLES, FL (October 6, 2008) - Hodges University has enrolled more than 2,000 students for the first time in its 18-year history. The official fall enrollment of 2,163 students is a 13.2 % increase over 2007. The enrollment figure includes students attending classes at the University’s six learning sites and online as well as the main campuses in Ft. Myers and Naples. Of the total student population, 47% are minority students, and of them, 30% are Hispanic.
“We are extremely pleased with the communities’ response to the outstanding educational opportunities offered by Hodges University,” said Hodges President Dr. Terry McMahan. "Hodges is growing in remarkable ways, both in the number of students enrolling in our degree programs as well as our ESL program. The overwhelming demand for higher education in our area is a reflection of the tough economic times we are incurring, as well as the opportunities that Hodges provides to adult students seeking different career choices.
“A great deal of credit must go to our admissions staff for the hard work they did to recruit students to the university. Our program chairs and outstanding faculty also deserve praise for creating an environment of academic excellence that attracts students, not only from the Southwestern region of Florida, but from all over the nation and the world who take advantage of our distance education program. Our ability to attract these students is a key factor in the steady increase in academic quality and achievement that we’ve seen at Hodges.
McMahan attributed the university's enrollment successes to hard work on all the campuses to boost enrollment as well as the excellent reputation of the University. “Hodges University has been making efforts to recruit more online students, matriculate students from their ESL program, retain students through graduation, maintain moderate and predictable tuition increases, and boost financial aid and scholarship opportunities. Each of these elements contributes to our success. And even though our enrollment numbers are up, we can still assure our students that they will receive an academic experience of high quality in an environment which meets their professional and personal needs,” he said.
Though the median age of student at Hodges remained at 31, officials report a 15% increase in traditional or “rite-of-passage” students, those who enter college right after high school. “The tough economy has caused many recent high school graduates to rethink their decision of whether to go away to school or to stay home,” said Rita Lampus, Vice President of enrollment services at Hodges. “With our flexible scheduling, the traditional student is finding that they can juggle a job, life responsibilities and their schooling, much the same as our adult learners.”
Other increases for the fall 2008 term included a 6% increase in minority students and a 42% increase in students taking the English as a Second Language program. “Competition for the good jobs has become increasingly fierce, and for the non-English-speaking resident of our area, it has become a necessity to learn the language,” said McMahan. “We’re also seeing more of those students matriculate into other degree programs. Many of these students are the leaders of our community tomorrow, and find that Hodges is a great way to get the education they are looking for.”
Distance education continues to grow at the University, with students taking classes online both locally and across the country. Hodges now has students in 17 states, including Maine, Washington, Texas and Ohio, as well as one student in Colombia. During the fall 2007 term, Hodges had 49 online students. One year later the figure has increased 250%, with 172 students now taking courses online. This represents 8% of the total Hodges student body.
“Students are shopping for courses that meet their schedules and circumstances,” said Peter Van Leeuwen, Director of Distance Education. “More and more learners are requiring flexibility in program structure to accommodate their other responsibilities, such as full-time jobs, family needs or economic restrictions. With these constraints, students shop for courses that best accommodate their schedules and learning styles.
“At Hodges, we recognized early that this trend would continue to grow, which is why we have spent so much time and resources developing our online product. Technology today has provided the necessary framework for the continued rapid growth of distance education. As the ability to deliver a quality education online continues to increase, so, too, is the necessity for continued growth in the number and diversity of DE programs that we currently offer and will continue to offer. I think distance education will continue to grow exponentially in the next few years,” he said.
President McMahan views the enrollment increase as an example of the institution fulfilling its mission. "We have worked very hard to understand the educational needs of our community,” said McMahan. “The result is a very vibrant, growing and diverse institution that is making a difference not just in the lives of its students but in the quality of life in this region of Florida as well.”