New programs boost enrollment at private colleges

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — Private schools across northern Indiana are using tuition incentives, new programs and competitive sports to boost enrollment this year as many public schools see their numbers decline.

Trine University in Angola, Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne and Grace College in Winona Lake are reporting enrollment increases of 11 percent to 17 percent this year, and officials at those schools hope the growth continues.

The schools are bucking the trend that typically occurs after a recession, The Journal Gazette reported ( ). According to Inside Higher Ed, a data research group, enrollment tends to boom during a recession, then taper off as the economy improves.

The private universities have attracted more students with a variety of new programs, which are sometimes easier to offer than at public institutions, said George McClellan, IPFW's vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management.

"When the region's public university is not as able as it should be to very quickly offer graduate programs, then our competitors will move in to meet the region's needs," said McClellan, whose school has seen enrollment drop.

Some of the new attractions include more post-graduate programs at Trine and more athletics at Indiana Tech.

Trine now offers two certifications in human resources, a master's in business administration, a doctorate in physical therapy and a master's in engineering management. It also has aggressively courted international students, nearly doubling their numbers.

Indiana Tech has added a hockey team that is aligned with the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

"We're up everywhere - Ph.D. programs, law students - everything has increased across the board here at the Fort Wayne campus," Indiana Tech spokeswoman Janet Schutte said.

Athletics, as well as the school's size, are popular draws for Indiana Tech students.

"If you're not an engineer, you're an athlete," said Braden Walker, 20, a junior from Toronto who was recruited for the soccer team.

New programs also have drawn students to Manchester University in North Manchester and Huntington University.

Ivy Tech Community College spokesman Andrew Welch said the improving economy is a factor in the school's enrollment decline.

"Certainly we see students leave because with a few classes they are able to enter back into the workforce or get a promotion," he said.


Information from: The Journal Gazette,

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