Drop in first year and transfer enrollment causes concern


Sydney Peacock — Contributor

At the State of the University Address, Southern’s President Joe Bertolino delivered
some slightly alarming news: transfer and overall student enrollment at Southern Connecticut are declining; however, this is not a problem solely isolated to Southern.

As the demographics of Connecticut change, many universities across the state have been feeling the hit too. There are fewer college-age students in Connecticut than there
have been in previous years, and there is also an increase in young adults who do not see the value in higher education.

Private universities have begun to use more aggressive tactics towards community college transfer students. This, in turn, has hurt public universities. Twelve years ago, Southern had its largest student population at 13,000 students.

Today Southern sits at 9,817 full and part-time students combined. Recently, another factor has entered the equation. An act concerning debt free community college is planned to be put into action in 2020.

Although this act is beneficial to college-age students, the cost of tuition may divert first-year students away from four-year public universities. This would lead to an overall decrease in students enrolling as freshmen to our-year colleges, and thus a smaller incoming class to Southern.

As a result, most universities in Connecticut will see a greater population of students transferring from community colleges into their programs, and less enrolling in their first year.

“Our future population of students rests with transfer students here,’’ stated Bertolino during his State of the University Address.

Bertolino also made it imperative that an increase in transfer student enrollment is crucial to Southern’s future success. Out of the transfer students who had enrolled in the fall of 2018, 72.5% returned the following year. This is down from 75.7% and 75% from previous years. Due to the significant drop, the school is attempting to make changes to increase these numbers. Southern is currently working towards becoming a more transfer friendly school.

“Clear degree pathways, community college partnerships, simpler d faster transfer credit
evaluations and increased student services are all part of meeting that goal,” said  Intermittent Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Julie Edstrom.

In hearing this information many students seemed concerned with the idea of Southern’s
enrollment and student retention rates going down, “It does actually worry me a little,” said biology major, Gaby Galicia Barrientos, a freshman.

With the number of transfer students falling from 928 in the fall of 2018, to 797 this fall, Edstrom said Southern’s primary focus within these next few years is to not only increase the number of transfer students but also retain the transfer students
the school already has. The Transfer Student Services department is on this task
and works hard to provide transfer students with the support they need.

“Southern aims to provide a welcoming community for transfer students,’’ said Edstrom.
“Intends to be a transfer university of choice for those students as they continue on to a four-year degree.” 

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