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Ohio State's Columbus Campus Leads Nation in Enrollment

Ohio State doesn't just lead the nation in football. It is still the country's largest university. And it beats Florida. University provost Joe Alluto tells WOSU what being number one means to OSU.

52-thousand-five-hundred students are enrolled on OSU's Columbus campus alone. Add in the other locations and enrollment exceeds 60,000. OSU provost Joe Alluto said the university's focus has never been about how many students come to Ohio State. He said the big numbers are just a byproduct of academic excellence.

"The focus for us is really on providing access to excellence for students," Alluto said.

While enrollment continues to increase so do first-year student retention rates. And OSU officials said that is part of the reason enrollment is up. The number of freshmen staying for their sophomore year has increased more than 14 percent since 1994. This year, the university predicts 92 percent of first year students will stay for another year. Alluto attributes the increases to what kind of students are applying to OSU.

"We're looking for high quality students who can come in and take advantage of all the resources that are part of Ohio State University," Alluto said.

This year's freshman class is considered the brightest yet. OSU only accepted 27 percent of those who applied. While Alluto admits it is competitive to get into Ohio State, he said it's not just about test scores. "It really is the extent to which the student is rounded, has a set of skills that help add to the diversity that we look for in a university," Alluto said.

While some students may prefer a smaller campus and smaller classes, Alluto said there are advantages to being big.

"Being large allows us to have a significant number of different areas in which we stand out in terms of excellence so we're allowed to build in a variety of different areas. The saying goes as we talk to students is, it's almost impossible for a student to identify an area of interest where they wouldn't find on campus a world class program in that area. And that's clearly an advantage that comes to us with size," Alluto said.

Ohio State's enrollment exceeds the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Florida at Gainsville.