BVU Records Enrollment Growth for Fourth Straight Year

Center for Academic Excellence, academically accomplished incoming first-year classes, and graduate programming cited as key reasons for growth.

Enrollment at Buena Vista University has risen for the fourth year in a row, a trend that includes gains in full-time student enrollment on the main campus in Storm Lake.

Total enrollment at BVU this fall comes to 1,973 students, an increase of 14 students over the 2021 total of 1,959 students.

Here is the breakdown:
•    791 students on campus in Storm Lake, including 763 full-time students, an increase of two percent.
•    683 online and hybrid students, a decrease of 46 students from 2021.
•    499 students in graduate programs (a record number), up from a then-record 453 students one year ago.

“We are extremely pleased to be setting a record again in graduate programming while experiencing growth in enrollment on our campus in Storm Lake,” says President Brian Lenzmeier. “And while we address a slight decline in enrollment in online and hybrid programs, we realize this is consistent with trends nationally.

“Overall, we’re very excited that students continue to make BVU their choice for a quality, affordable, transformative education that pays off as nearly 100 percent of our graduates earn a position in the career field or graduate program of their choosing within six months of graduation,” Lenzmeier says.

“We’ve made a commitment to match each freshman with an academic liaison or a success coach and it is helping our students achieve their goals.”

President Brian Lenzmeier

BVU realized an increase of new freshmen and transfer students this fall as 272 students reported to campus in Storm Lake, up from 264 one year ago. The new enrollees represent growth of 18 percent dating back to 2016.

“Our last four classes of freshmen were 230, 226, 237, and 235 (this year),” Lenzmeier says. “We are consistent with those class sizes as our overall enrollment in Storm Lake has gone from 732 five years ago to 791 now, an increase of seven percent in that time period.”

Retention and demographics among freshmen have contributed to year-over-year growth. Freshmen this fall, for example, had an average grade-point average of 3.49 in high school, which ties for the best mark among incoming freshmen dating back more than 10 years. Last year’s incoming freshmen had the same average GPA in high school.

“The high school GPA is the biggest indicator of success a college student will enjoy,” Lenzmeier says. “To have back-to-back classes of incoming freshmen with a strong GPA like that bodes well for our retention rates, which translates into enrollment growth.”

BVU’s commitment of resources in building the Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) in the BVU Library as well as dedicated staff members who serve as academic liaisons, success coaches, and tutors have all contributed to strong retention rates.

“When our baseline for retention is 70 percent from first- to second-year students and we achieve 76 percent like we did this year, the highest in six years, I’m thrilled,” Lenzmeier says. “We’ve made a commitment to match each freshman with an academic liaison or a success coach and it is helping our students achieve their goals.”

Forty-nine percent of the incoming first-year students finished in the top 25 percent of their senior class in high school. The average ACT score of 22.2 for incoming freshmen is also the highest it has been since 2016.

Lenzmeier predicts that graduate enrollment at BVU will top 500 students for the first time in history when Term 2 begins later this fall. Enrollment in master’s programs in special education and teacher leadership curriculum and instruction has soared from 25 students in 2017 to 252 students now.

“There is great demand among teachers throughout the Midwest and across the country who see the value of their investment in a BVU program whose convenience and quality make it a leader in the marketplace,” Lenzmeier says.