Enrollment numbers for freshman and transfer students in the spring semester fell short of their set projections.
Michael Konopski, interim vice president for enrollment management, reported that these projections typically include “over 200 new undergraduate students (freshman, transfer and readmitted students) and 150 graduate students.”
According to Konopski, this negative enrollment pattern is a common occurrence. “In mid-year, we gain and lose students…. Like most universities, there is generally a net loss of students from fall to spring,” said Konopski.
While this net loss in enrollment from fall to spring may be common, it is not without consequence.
Deborah Judd, vice president for administration and finance, stated that “enrollment is a key driver in meeting our annual budget. When enrollment falls short, there is an added challenge to still balance our budget.”
Although freshman and transfer numbers decreased, the number of graduate, readmit and non-degree students exceeded the enrollment department’s projections for the spring semester.
“A record 270 undergraduate students graduated in December, some students withdrew for a variety of reasons, while at the same time we gained new freshmen, transfers, readmits and graduate students. We also gained non-degree students such as teachers signing up for continuing education courses,” said Konopski.
In an attempt to hit enrollment targets, Konopski and others will soon compile an annual recruitment plan. This plan shapes goals and strategies that are aimed at hitting enrollment targets for both the fall and spring semesters.
“Some are brand new efforts while others may be similar to previous years. Often strategies are carried forth from year to year but adjusted based on changes or trends in student enrollment,” said Konopski.
Students have their own opinions as to why freshman and transfer enrollment numbers are down.
“Students have so many other options when it comes to schools,” said Janelle Carper, a junior education major. “Those schools offer better scholarships, so they get more student attention.”
Jessica Earle, a senior political science and economics double major, placed blame upon the university for the lack of enrollment. “I think the numbers are low for incoming freshman because we do a poor job of marketing,” said Earle. “The readmits don’t need to be marketed because they’ve already been here, but incoming freshman have never had the opportunity to hear or see Shepherd.”
Though the exact reason for this decrease in enrollment is unknown, the decline in tuition money does place an added strain on the university’s tight budget.