Total enrollment at the University of New Mexico dipped slightly from fall 2013 to fall 2014 according to preliminary, unofficial enrollment numbers released recently by the Division of Enrollment Management. The total number of credit hours students are taking this semester is down only 1.5 percent from 341,898 last fall to 336,618 this fall. Overall headcount is 27,889 compared with 28,644, a 2.6 percent decrease.

Terry Babbitt, associate vice president for enrollment management, noted that the slight decrease is within a half percentage point of UNM’s targeted enrollment goal.

“Undergraduate and graduate students alike are taking higher course loads this fall semester, which is what we want to see,” Babbitt said. “It helps move students toward graduation faster.”

The incoming freshman class, which is smaller than in recent years, may be the most likely to succeed based on the students’ college placement tests scores and grade point averages.

For the 2014 cohort, the average ACT score is 23, while the average GPA is 3.4. These scores are the highest in UNM history indicating these students are better prepared to stay in school through graduation. Another high point is the big jump in the number of freshmen students with an ACT score of 30 or better, which is the top 5 percent of all New Mexico test takers, is up 20 percent over last year. UNM also saw a 13 percent growth in non-resident students.

“The new Honors College is helping UNM attract the best and brightest from New Mexico,” UNM President Robert Frank said. “While the incoming class is smaller, we will be more likely to keep these students, which will pay off in the long run with more graduates.”

The decrease in the freshman class wasn’t unexpected amid the continuing national and local trend of declining enrollments. The New Mexico graduating high school class feeding into colleges is at its smallest level in recent years. The number of first year students attending UNM fell from 3,518 in 2013 to 3,132 in 2014, a decline of 11 percent.

Upper division graduate credit hours showed a slight increase, reversing a declining trend. Babbitt noted that positive move is largely attributed to international students and School of Engineering graduate students.

“Engineering had major increases in their graduate enrollment,” Babbitt said. “Computer Science alone added more than 50 new students.”

International enrollment increased by over 200 students. High retention rates and increases in transfer students also contributed substantially to enrollment as prescribed in UNM’s enrollment strategy.