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US: MSU’s enrollment higher, out-of-state draw rising

As more and more students become Spartans and the university’s national enrollment ranking remains among the top 10 largest American universities, Michigan State University (MSU) continues to increase its out-of-state draw.

MSU has the eighth highest enrollment in the nation, according to data from universities’ websites. Since fall 2000 the number of out-of-state students has increased to 5,161, about a 2,000 person increase. And the number of international students has doubled since the fall 2000 semester to 5,989, according to the university registrar.

About 48,000 total students enrolled at MSU for the fall 2011 semester. Director of Admissions Jim Cotter said officials are pleased enrollment is up at MSU, but moving up in the rankings is not a primary concern. “It really does represent who we are as an institution,” Cotter said. “No institution has all the majors, but few can provide the range of studies MSU offers (because of our size).”

Also checking in on the list of the top 10 schools by enrollment were fellow Big Ten universities Ohio State University, University of Minnesota, Penn State University and Indiana University. Cotter said being a part of the Big Ten also helps attract a number of students to MSU, both athletically and academically. He also said being associated with schools such as Northwestern, Penn State and Wisconsin is prestigious.

“The Big Ten conference is a very strong brand,” Cotter said. “All (schools) but one are an (Association of American Universities) institution, which is a leading undergraduate research institution.” Comparative cultures and politics freshman Courtney Hammer went to a private school in Roswell, Ga., and was excited to go to a big school and the same school her family went to.

“I always grew up a Michigan State fan, and I wanted to play soccer here,” Hammer said, who is a forward on the MSU women’s soccer team. “I was excited to go to a big school with a big, diverse community.”

The university’s reputation has reached students across other parts of the nation as well.

After finishing his undergraduate studies, graduate student Jack Adams decided he wanted to attend law school. After picking about six schools where he had the most realistic chance of getting in, Adams decided MSU was the school for him. While searching for a school, Adams asked several of his advisers at the University of Texas at Tyler. Despite being more than 1,100 miles away, Adams said all of his professors and advisers had a good impression of MSU.

“MSU and MSU (College of) Law have great reputations,” Adams said. “I decided to take (my advisers’) advice, and I ended up here.”

MSU also is able to attract a wide range of students because of the large campus and the ability to make the campus seem smaller. Cotter said MSU tries to get students to find their niche or neighborhood. The neighborhood system creates a sense of belonging and gives it a small college feel, Cotter said.

Adams said he is from a small town of about 1,500 people and wouldn’t have been comfortable here without his travels during his 10-year career in the Navy. But since he has been here, the smaller communities helped people adjust better.

“There are so many organizations on campus,” Adams said. “It’s really easy for anybody to get involved.”

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