Today: Apr 12, 2024

Student enrollment is steadily dropping

Donovan WilsonReporter

As COVID-19 roars on, enrollment in school continues to steadily drop each semester not only throughout the country and the state but throughout southern itself. However, the many components of enrollment on campus are looking towards bringing those numbers back up over time. 

Many reasons for a drop in enrollment seem to tie back to of juggling a job and an academic career in the middle of a global pandemic. This can be observed by the fact that community college has been hit the hardest and is down the lowest and is more likely to have students that are balancing schoolwork and a job or maybe even family as well. The other factor working against colleges is that many freshman already struggle with whether or not to take a gap year between high school and college and a global pandemic going on gives them all the more reason to just wait a year or two. 

“I have college-aged kids and I have said this to them as well,  one of the most important piece of advice is to make yourself aware of the resources on and proactively use them because students often suffer in silence and that’s their biggest issue,” said Julie Edstrom, vice president for enrollment management. 

Julie Edstrom was brought on during COVID-19 as a temporary replacement, originally as an associate vice president, but has been brought on for an additional year as the role of vice president. She represents the four major departments involved in enrollment; Financial Aid, Transfer Students, Undergrad Admissions and The Registrar office. All of the information she learns overseeing these office is brought back to the president and contributes to their enrollment efforts. 

The biggest component of the four aforementioned offices is undergrad admissions. The most obvious reason would be that the more students granted admission, the higher the enrollment numbers which do contribute here. However, one of the biggest reasons it helps for the future, they are able to keep an eye on first year and transfer students and see how their experiences could be improved to encourage more new students.  

“I was supposed to have two in person classes this semester but then they both switched to asynchronous online courses,” said Wilkinson Hall Desk Attendant Ava Fernand. 

One major thing low enrollment has affected is not necessarily the number of classes being offered, but rather how many classes are now completely online. Even leading into this semester, we’ve seen many classes switch from entirely in-person to either hybrid, online synchronous or online asynchronous, either to cut down on in-person student presence or simply by the professors own precautions. This is both related to lower enrollment numbers and a general increase in the state and country for COVID-19 numbers. 

From the perspective of residence hall staff, the number of new freshmen entering the buildings has been significantly lower than usual. This would go on to prove a lot of the aforementioned claims as to why freshmen are enrolling less during COVID-19 because these observations show that there are less freshmen showing up. Fernand also mentioned how many rooms are empty and how practically barren the parking lots have become at the residence halls on the weekends. 

“I am an RA in Brownell, so I don’t have any freshman residents so I’m not sure how the numbers are looking. I know in general there has been a decrease in residents this year,” said Lily Mccarthy, Resident Advisor in Brownell residence hall. 

Enrollment being lower has definitely left a noticeable impact on the community of this campus but the enrollment offices are working to bring those numbers back up. 

Photo credit: Roma Rositani

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