Enrollment Increase Continues in ISU College of Agriculture

Enrollment Increase Continues in ISU College of Agriculture

Undergraduate student enrollment at Iowa State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has increased to 3,298 this fall.

The number of undergraduate students enrolled in Iowa State University's College of Ag and Life Sciences has increased to 3,298 this fall. That's an increase of 216 undergraduate students since last fall. Last fall's enrollment of 3,082 hit a 30-year high. The college's undergraduate enrollment peaked in 1977 at 3,623. In 1987, it fell to 1,895 primarily due to the farm crisis. Enrollment was at 2,065 in 1990 and in 2000 enrollment totaled 2,758.

The steady increases reflect the college's efforts to recruit students. The number of freshmen and transfer students has continued to increase over the past six years. Those increases are in part due to increased employer demands for graduates in agriculture and life sciences. The placement rate for graduating seniors is 98.5%, which means graduates from the fall of 2008 through the summer of 2009 were either employed, pursuing graduate degrees or serving in the military within six months after graduation.

ISU is ranked as a national leader in agriculture and life sciences

Every fall the college hosts the largest ag career fair in the nation, which will be held Oct. 19. In order to offer more opportunities to students a second career fair is offered in the spring. The college is considered a national leader in agriculture and life sciences. Students have 24 majors to choose from and receive individual attention from advisers.

David Acker, associate dean of academic and global programs, says advisers, staff and faculty work together to help students succeed. "Our faculty has been recognized for their teaching quality, philosophy, methodology and their service to their profession and students," says Acker.

Tom Polito, director of student services, says the college offers new opportunities for students as well as a strong curriculum in traditional majors. "Some of the majors such as agronomy, animal science, animal ecology, horticulture and forestry continue to be our strengths," he says. "We've also expanded to include biology, culinary science, genetics, global resource systems, microbiology, dietetics and environmental science to reflect the broader needs of agriculture."

That science-based focus is reflected in the name of the college, which changed from "agriculture" to "agriculture and life sciences" in 2007.

Andy Zehr, marketing and recruitment director, says building relationships with prospective students and parents is essential in recruiting and retaining students. Zehr says the college offers:

  • More than $1.4 million in scholarships at both the college and departmental levels.
  • An ag study abroad program that is ranked second in the nation in numbers of students getting international experience.
  • Numerous internship opportunities.
  • Undergraduate research programs that allow students to get paid and receive credit for their research.
  • Inclusive and award-winning clubs.
  • More than 87% participation in learning communities.
  • One of the highest retention and graduation rates at Iowa State. 
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