A UC first: Enrollment tops 48,000
By Cedric Ricks
University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati anticipated record enrollment as classes begin Monday, Aug. 22, with a projected 48,300 students — a 3% increase over last year.
It will mark nearly a decade of continuous growth of a student body that increasingly reflects the university’s core values.
“This will not only be the largest number of students attending UC in its history, but also our largest freshman class, our most academically prepared, and our most diverse class in history,” says Jack Miner, Vice Provost of Enrollment Management.
“UC’s success is really about the success of the City of Cincinnati,” Miner said. “More students at UC means more qualified workers for this region, more young professionals settling in this area and more opportunity to attract businesses and industry to this region.”
UC President Neville Pinto describes the positive enrollment trend “both remarkable and relatively unique” in higher education.
“There’s no more exciting time than when our students return and re-energize our campuses,” says Pinto. “Record numbers are studying at UC thanks to the quality of our academic programs and the overall student experience. We have a high responsibility to each of them. Our goal is to ready our students for what’s next and help connect them to opportunities that lift our city, our region and our world.”
More student body highlights
- 32% increase in first-generation students in the incoming class. First-gen students represent the first member of their family to attend a four-year institution of higher learning
- 16% larger incoming class than last year’s
- 23% increase in Black students in incoming class
- 21% increase in Latinx students in incoming class
- Average high school GPA of 3.74, the highest in the university’s history
- Anticipating a record 4,000-plus international students enrolled, representing 46 countries
- UC’s first-year retention rate of students hit a high of 86.8%
“UC strives every year to not only serve the people of Cincinnati but also to be reflective of Cincinnati,” says Miner. “I think the increase in enrollment for Black students, Latino students and first-generation students is a reflection of our values and who we are as a university.”
Other universities are experiencing enrollment decline, but UC has more than a few factors working in its favor, says Miner.
“I credit UC’s growth with our rising reputation, not just the great record in football and our move to the Big 12, but our nationally ranked programs and especially our top ranked co-op program. Cincinnati itself continues to be ranked as a top college town, top city for young professionals and top city for quality of life.”
And while numbers may capture our attention, it’s really “the lives, hopes, dreams and families that each of those UC students represent” that matter most, explains Miner.
UC students say they aren’t surprised if this fall’s enrollment shatters all-time records. Some who have found success on campus say it’s that sense of community at UC that’s attractive to new students and then helps keep them beyond the initial first year.
“UC is a big school, but with a small school feeling because of the people,” says Dante DiPrimio, a third-year chemistry major who serves as a student orientation leader. “There are a lot of opportunities for success. I remember visiting here as a high school student — UC was the last university I toured. I remember thinking, ‘This is the place for me,’ this is where I could see myself living for the next four years.”
UC is also a place where it’s OK to ask for help, says DiPrimio.
“I wish I would have known the benefits of stepping out of my comfort zone as a first-year student,” says DiPrimio, “just meeting new people.”
“Go up and talk to new people,” he advises. “I was really terrified of that. What I didn’t know as a first-year student is that everyone just wants to make a new friend. Everyone has been so welcoming. I’ve been able to make so many friends.”
It’s no wonder that so many UC students return after their first year as a Bearcat.
“One of our major successes over the past year was achieving our highest first-year retention rate in history,” says Miner. “This figure is tracked nationally by colleges and universities as a measure of success in their student achievement and specifically in the academic success of their freshman class.”
As part of the university’s commitment to partnering with Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) the Marian Spencer Scholars program was founded in 2021 to recognize high-achieving CPS students. The scholarship covers students’ undergraduate financial needs and includes mentoring and career coaching, an international service abroad trip to Tanzania, participation in a service project to benefit CPS and more. The students are housed together as a learning-living community in Marian Spencer Hall.
The inaugural class of 10 Marian Spencer Scholars embark on their Bearcat experience this fall. By 2023, the program will include at least one student from each of the 18 high schools within CPS.
For Preet Khimasia, a third-year student in finance and business analytics, co-op was a major reason for choosing UC. Born in India, Khimasia knew he wanted to study abroad, but it was important to have a recognized leader in his chosen field.
“UC had one of the best programs for what I wanted to do,” he says. “What really attracted me is I am a very hands-on learner and a very experiential learner.”
Cooperative education began at UC in 1906 and its program has remained a leader in experience-based learning ever since. The university ranks No. 4 in the nation for co-op, with Cincinnati’s hands-on classroom extending to nearly every corner of the globe, from Fortune 500 companies to trailblazing experiences in places like China, Tanzania and South America.
UC students earn a collective $75 million annually working for thousands of employers including General Electric Aviation, Disney, Toyota, Kroger, Procter & Gamble and many more. UC has nearly 2,000 global partners for the co-op program with students participating in over 7,500 co-op opportunities each year.
Meet UC’s student body president
UC student body President Isaac Smitherman offers a challenge to incoming students.
“Get involved on campus, get involved in the Cincinnati community,” Smitherman advises. “There are so many great organizations in terms of volunteering. If you want to mentor kids, tutor kids, volunteer with animals or assist people experiencing homelessness, there are so many things going on in our city and people that need help from awesome student leaders.
“Find your community and, whatever programs you are part of coming into UC, do your best to just dive into them. There are so many people that want to help you and hear you out. Branch out, meet new people in your major and build those connections.”
Blue Ash, Clermont mark half-century
- UC Blue Ash saw first-year enrollment jump by 28% while UC Clermont’s overall enrollment increased by 2%
- UC Blue Ash saw an increase of 33% in Black students, 14% in Latinx students, 27% in first-generation students and 32% in graduates from Cincinnati Public Schools
- UC Clermont saw a 38% increase in Black students and a 25% increase in Latinx students
UC’s new Digital Futures building will be the first facility for interdisciplinary research in the university’s 200-plus year history when it celebrates its grand opening Sept. 23.
Digital Futures will host 20-plus labs led by talented faculty from across all UC’s research enterprise, conducting use-driven research and development, advancing knowledge and creating new inventions that solve problems that matter.
A formal grand opening for the new College of Law building is slated for Sept. 13, but faculty, staff and students are already enjoying a $45.6 million renovation which has transformed the former Lindner College of Business building.