More students than ever are choosing BGSU  Here s why

More students than ever are choosing BGSU. Here’s why:

BGSU welcomed one of its largest and highest-achieving freshman classes in history this fall, underscoring the University’s unwavering commitment to student success and strong academic programs for in-demand careers.

Shivani Pallerla always knew she’d attend college, but when it came time to begin the search, she was admittedly overwhelmed with the looming decision of what to do with the rest of her life.

Then, Pallerla, a native of Columbus, Ohio, visited Bowling Green State University, and her future suddenly became more apparent.

“As soon as I stepped on campus, I could feel the difference,” she said. “I didn’t feel like a number or a statistic. They treated me like a person, and I got the sense that they wanted me to be here.”

Her father, Venu Pallerla, noticed it too.

“BGSU really paid attention to who she is as an individual,” he said. “That personal touch was very appealing.”

BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers addresses crowd at Convocation.
BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers welcomes the Class of 2027 to the University during Convocation. (BGSU photo/Justin Camuso-Stall '14)
Students smile while attending BGSU Convocation.
More students than ever are choosing BGSU for its commitment to student success. (BGSU photo/Craig Bell)
Two students smile while at BGSU Convocation.
BGSU prioritizes student success through a comprehensive and collaborative network of support extending across all levels of campus. (BGSU photo/Justin Camuso-Stall '14)

That welcoming atmosphere the Pallerlas and thousands of others experienced during their initial visit to campus is authentically BGSU —  a university with a deeply embedded culture of prioritizing student success as a core part of its mission to create public good.

It’s also driving near-record numbers of students to enroll at BGSU, with the recent Fall 2023 freshman class becoming the highest achieving and one of the largest classes in University history. In addition, BGSU is experiencing an 80% retention rate, the highest in its 113-year history.

“That ‘feeling’ students have when they come to our campus is their recognition of the level of support we offer,” said Dr. Glenn Davis, leading the University’s new Division of Student Engagement and Success as vice president. “At its core, we define student success by centering students in everything we do.

“If students feel at home here and understand they are valued members of our community, they are much more likely to navigate problems they encounter successfully than those who don’t. That’s why we are so keenly focused on supporting students at every turn and adapting to their evolving needs.”

As a high-research, comprehensive public university, BGSU is a recognized leader in providing dedicated support through innovative and nationally recognized programs focused on academic success and personal well-being.

BGSU continues to be nationally recognized for excellence by the Wall Street Journal. For the fourth consecutive time, BGSU is the No. 1 public university in the Midwest that students would choose again. This year, the University also climbed to the top spot for the same ranking among public universities in the West, Mid-Atlantic and New England regions. And new this year, BGSU is ranked the No. 1 university in the state of Ohio - public or private - for student experience. 

Record-setting numbers

BGSU welcomed nearly 3,500 new, first-time students in the Class of 2027, touting the highest grade point average in University history at 3.67. The class is composed of students from 33 states and Puerto Rico and 21 nations across the globe and represents a 7% increase in first-time enrollment over last fall.

The number of new students in the Honors College reached nearly 400, up 100 students from last year.

Additionally, students who received the University’s top academic scholarships based on their high school GPA, ACT or SAT scores and class rank increased by 20% this fall compared to last academic year.

Davis said the historic 80% retention of first-year students returning this fall is another significant indicator of how comprehensive support systems and a student-centric approach can foster success.

The support network is a strategically coordinated and collaborative effort extending across all levels of the BGSU learning community, with faculty, staff, academic advisors, counselors, coaches and many others committed to redefining student success, a top priority in the University’s strategic plan, Forward.

“As a public university for the public good, increased enrollment at Bowling Green State University has a positive impact on our region and state,” said BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers. “We are pleased to welcome such a large class of students who are entering academic programs and fields that are in high demand in our communities. We look forward to supporting their comprehensive experience at BGSU as they prepare for career and life.” 

Empowering success through Life Design

In recent years, the University has invested significantly in Life Design at BGSU — a groundbreaking program that teaches students crucial problem-solving skills that can contribute to greater success in college and their careers.

The program provides students with the fundamental design thinking skills to help them navigate obstacles they encounter. They're connected to Life Design coaches, who guide them toward helpful resources as they explore, prototype and plan their future.

BGSU is the first university in the country to build a life design program of this magnitude available to all undergraduate students, an initiative that began with resounding support from President Rogers and engaged alumni whose transformative gifts have allowed the University to expand its initiative and continue changing the higher education paradigm.

Through Life Design, students have learned to move past failure, develop the confidence to pursue unique opportunities and discover new passions after being empowered to design their futures. They've graduated in four years, or fewer, been awarded scholarships and have become leaders in the Life Design student ambassador program.

“There are countless examples of how Life Design is benefiting our students,” said Adrienne Ausdenmoore, assistant vice president and executive director of the Geoffrey H. Radbill Center for College and Life Design. “We are invested in helping our students define what is important to them and then providing the tools necessary to propel them forward. College can be complex and challenging, and Life Design provides students with the knowledge and skills to overcome obstacles and succeed.”

As students progress through their journey at the University and shift their life design focus to career planning, they’re connected to a Career Design coach at the Michael and Sara Kuhlin Hub for Career Design and Connections.

The Kuhlin Hub for Career Design and Connections facilitates key introductions between students and industry professionals that lead to mentorships, co-ops, internships and fulfilling career opportunities. It’s an integral part of the Life Design ecosystem that allows students to explore career opportunities purposefully.

Along with career exploration, another key focus of the Kuhlin Hub for Career Design and Connections is growing corporate partnerships. The partnerships allow BGSU students to become “in-network” with large organizations, thus helping students increase their likelihood of being considered for those positions.

BGSU is among the few universities in the country to have career connectors focused solely on building relationships with external partners to create career opportunities for students.

“Our goal is to steward those relationships with external partners to allow for more robust, personal connections for our students," said Steve Russell, assistant vice president and executive director of the Kuhlin Hub for Career Design and Connections. “Those connections are the first step in students securing internships and full-time careers.

“When people wonder why they should invest in a degree from BGSU, I think our Life Design ecosystem and our success in helping students find productive, rewarding and fulfilling work is a powerful response to those existential concerns.”

Two students smile while sitting at a table in the Kuhlin Hub.
Career Design coaches at the Kuhlin Hub help connect students to career opportunities that align with their interests. (BGSU photo/Haven Conn '22)
Steve Russell meets with students at the Kuhlin Hub for Career Design and Connections at BGSU.
BGSU is among the few universities in the country to have a dedicated center focused on creating career opportunities for students by building relationships with external partners. (BGSU photo/Craig Bell)

Keeping students on track

Another example of BGSU raising its level of student support beyond traditional expectations is the University’s enhanced Early Alert program, launched in Fall 2021.

Although notifying students of academic concerns is common practice in higher education, Davis said the unique system of personalizing the process has garnered BGSU national recognition.

Rather than students receiving a general email alerting them of poor performance or attendance concerns, alerts are distributed to a team of about 80 outreach coordinators assigned to specific populations at the University. The personalized approach has increased retention of those receiving early alerts by 5%.

“The theory is that the more closely connected a student is to that outreach coordinator, the more likely they are to engage and be responsive to receiving the help being offered,” Davis said. “When we develop these strategies, students are always top of mind. We want to ensure that what we provide will truly benefit our students moving forward.”

Davis and his colleagues in the Division of Student Engagement and Success are presenting at the national Education Advisory Board conference in January on the University’s Early Alert system, sharing best practices as a model for other universities to emulate.

Mental health and well-being

In addition to a focus on academic success and career preparedness, BGSU has consistently prioritized mental health and well-being as a core component of supporting student success. The University has significantly expanded its programming in recent years while broadening access, opportunity and modality of services.

The new Division of Community Well-Being, formerly the Division of Health and Wellness, plays a significant role in providing mental health services and well-being initiatives on campus through the Counseling Center and Wellness Connection with assistance from health educators, faculty, staff and students — each with a shared responsibility in contributing to a healthier BGSU community.

BGSU also recently engaged with The Jed Foundation (JED) to become a JED Campus, joining colleges and universities in Ohio and nationwide committed to strengthening mental health services.

Measuring success

Aside from growth in enrollment, retention of first-year students is another measure of the success of the University’s student-centric approach.

In Fall 2023, a record 80% of students returned to BGSU to begin their second academic year, representing an impressive 3% increase over the previous year.

“To see that kind of increase in a single year is remarkable, and it shows how hard this whole campus is working to support student success,” Davis said. “It’s that continued collaboration that will ensure our students have ample opportunities to succeed at BGSU.

“Our students have outstanding potential, and we want to ensure we help them visualize what they can accomplish not only while they’re at the University but after they graduate.”

A daughter and father smiling in a dorm room at BGSU.
First-year student Shivani Pallerla and her father, Venu Pallerla, on move-in day at Bowling Green State University. (BGSU photo/Luke Allen)

A few weeks into classes, Pallerla, an Honors College and Presidential Scholars Award recipient majoring in computer science, said the overwhelming support at BGSU has been integral to her adjustment to college.

“I have a lot of people on my team, which is really reassuring,” she said.

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | | 419-372-6349

Updated: 09/18/2023 10:29AM