Pacific Union College’s student body grew for the fourth consecutive year, fueled largely by a rise in retention--the number of students who return to PUC. This year’s enrollment increased to 1,605 from 1,567 at this time last year. The school-wide retention rate now stands at 78 percent, up from 70 percent last year.
Enrollment in PUC’s new allied health program, introduced last year, played the biggest role in fueling the increase in retention.
PUC administrators discovered the need for such a program after the Western Association of Schools and College, the school’s accrediting agency, recommended an institutional assessment, President Heather J. Knight explained. The assessment revealed a gap in degree options for students overflowing the limits of PUC’s popular nursing program, and for students taking pre-allied health classes.
The new program fills that gap, giving students a degree offering providing a strong foundation for a broad range of careers in the health sciences. “In fall of this year, we had 158 students declared for pre-allied health profession,” noted Shana Ruggenberg, chair of the department of nursing and health sciences, saying the degree helps the department meet its mission of training healthcare professionals in allied health fields.
In addition to new programs, students in all majors benefited from a tuition freeze that held tuition rates for the current school year at 2011-2012 levels, undoubtedly making it easier to continue to afford a private Christian education. The initiative, along with recently introduced four-year guarantee scholarship program (which lets students know up front how much tuition assistance they can expect from year to year), makes returning to PUC a smart choice, especially in an environment where many public and private colleges across the country are facing significant increases in tuition and fees.
The college’s academic support programs also helped fuel the increase in retention, said Academic Dean Nancy Lecourt. The on-campus academic success program housed at the Teaching and Learning Center has seen its visits triple this year as students access resources to succeed.
“Our new students are very proactive in pursuing academic success, and they’ve been taking advantage of our resources in record numbers,” says Jennifer Wareham Best, director of the Teaching and Learning Center. “This is our dream student body.”
“We are thrilled that so many students are making–and continuing to make–PUC their college of choice,” said Knight. “We want PUC to be the absolute best option, and that’s why we’re working very intentionally to meet the needs of our students.”