Students: Then and Now

Changes in the NMU student population – from demographics and campus life to curriculum and time required to complete a degree – were addressed during a focus discussion at today’s NMU Board of Trustees meeting. NMU President Les Wong and Susan Koch (Academic Affairs) presented data from select years between 1960 and 2007 for comparative purposes. Some of the trends highlighted were:


●The ratio of female students has increased from 35 to 54 percent from 1960 to 2007.


●The percentage of students hailing from the Upper Peninsula has dropped from 89 to 52 during that same period.


●Students pursuing a teaching-related curriculum comprised 64 percent of the population in 1960, but only 9 percent this year.


●With a load of 15 credits per semester, the median number of semesters it takes students to earn a degree has varied from a low of eight in 1960 to a high of 11 in 1990 (it is currently 10). 


●Factors influencing the time required to graduate include a growing number of experiential and international learning opportunities that complement classroom instruction; changing licensure, accreditation and endorsement standards for various fields; and increasing credit requirements for academic majors. As an example, the special education major in 1960 was comprised of 124 total credits, 29 of which were education credits. In 2007, the total is 133-155, with 81 education-specific credits.


●The number of student organizations has climbed from 25 to 288. Extracurricular activities once regarded primarily as social endeavors are now viewed as important supplements to education for entry into the job market or graduate school.


●The “sandwich generation” trend has put increasing demands on family finances. A growing number of single and dual parents are raising children and preparing for their college education while also saving for their own retirement and caring for elderly parents. The “true” cost of an education also includes the current costs of new family dynamics, increased work commitments, different living situations and varying levels of academic preparation.


The board was presented this material as a preview to February’s planned discussion of the university’s mission statement.


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Updated: December 14, 2007

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