"We're just where we expect to be for this time of year," says Jim Rose, assistant vice president for Enrollment & Records. "We were down slightly in the fall, and there's always some attrition from fall to spring."
Headcount, or total number of students who registered for spring 1996, is 7,601, down from 7,686 last year. Full-time equivalent enrollment is 6,696.50, down 1.33 percent from the same time last year.
"If you look at our figures using a five- or six-year history, typically spring semester enrollment is about 8 percent less than in the fall. Fundamentally, we're holding steady," Rose says.
Two factors contribute to an annual ebb and flow of enrollment: new and transfer students who arrive in the fall, and retention of students overall, which factors into the spring figures.
"Enrollment of new students is much more significant in terms of total enrollment in fall semester," Rose says. "In the spring, it becomes more of a retention issue because we enroll relatively small numbers of new or transfer students then."
Continuing trends are also affecting enrollment. While the size of high school graduating classes is expected to remain relatively stable over the next few years, more students than ever are opting to attend community colleges and vocational schools rather than beginning their studies at institutions offering four-year and graduate degree programs.
Tennessee Tech, in particular, faces a geographic challenge. Students from 94 of Tennessee's 95 counties are enrolled at the university this semester. A university located in a metropolitan area tends to draw its students from closer to home -- and from a larger population.