State University of New York at Oneonta was closed to visitors until January of this year. Normally, those who visit in the fall are likely candidates in the spring (or the following spring). Karen Brown, executive director of admissions, said Oneonta had tried doing remote visits and interacting with applicants online, but it was not the same. And so Oneonta – located in a small town (population 13,901) – is experiencing a sharp drop in freshman numbers expected for the fall.
This year, Oneonta lowered its goal of freshmen for the year from 1,500 (roughly where the college was before the pandemic) to 1,200. As of last week, the university has 1,000. freshmen who signed up. The university still accepts applicants. Brown expects registrations to stay where they are – the university by gaining a little more and losing to the summer melt.
“We are a work in progress,” said Brown. “We are not doing as well as in the past.”
The pandemic has hurt all kinds of apps, she said. Normally 40 percent of applicants apply early, but these applicants typically visited campus first.
Oneonta is renowned for its good teaching. But New York state has generally lost population, but mostly in its region, Brown said. “Demographic challenges and COVID have caused real concern and damage,” she said.
This is the situation for many regional state colleges and universities this year. Flagship universities generally have a good year of admission and are hitting their targets. Community colleges are struggling, but most of them never completed the admissions cycle until students show up in the fall. For private colleges and universities, the hyper-competitive are doing well, but the experience is very mixed for the rest.
For most regional public colleges, it has been a frustrating year. Requests are on the decline in most establishments. Students are willing to go to colleges if they enter colleges that are considered litter (private or public). But maybe not for a regional audience. So most regional audiences say they’re still accepting applications with July just around the corner. And most expect a drop in the number of freshmen they will enroll, though some still hope for small drops or even an increase.
There are exceptions, usually in fast growing states.
Florida Gulf Coast University had a target this year of 2,245 freshmen. The university is way above that. It received 16,759 applications (up 7.9% from last year), it has 2,889 filings (up 33.3% from last year) and 2,820 of those students enrolled in guidance (up 39.1% from last year).
But most states are not like Florida.
The Pennsylvania state higher education system is down 6.9% from a year ago. But David Pidgeon, a spokesperson, said the system is “in the middle of the intake period, so the data and data collection on it can vary widely, even from week to week.” .
At the University of Toledo, the numbers are also down from before the pandemic.
Last fall, the university enrolled 2,200 freshmen, up from 2,700 the previous year, said Collin Palmer, director of undergraduate admissions.
This year, it expects to be “slightly north” of 2,200, perhaps a 2-3% increase.
“We would like to reach 2,500, 2,700, but I don’t think that will happen this year,” he said.
He thinks the problem is not that students are not going to college, but that they are choosing new options. Last year, he said institutions such as Ohio University of Miami and Ohio State University appeared to be admitting more students who had also applied to Toledo, and Toledo had lost most of these students.
Toledo is doing everything possible to get more students to come, he said.
The university has organized tours that include its sports facilities, he said. The university even organized a night tour that people could bring their dogs to, he said.
International students are interested in attending, but visas are very slow, he said.
Locally, the university seems to be making progress. “Every week,” he said, the university is making progress.
Texas State University does not release data on its incoming students until they have actually arrived. During the past fall, the state of Texas attracted 37,849 students, a decrease of 1% from the previous year.
Then there’s the California State University system, which doesn’t have definitive numbers.
Luoluo Hong, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, said, “The field of strategic enrollment management relies heavily on data and analysis of past models to project future results. As with most other higher education institutions in the United States, the CSU system has lost its “crystal ball” due to the pandemic, so we are working hard to collect new data on how our students are taking care. decisions and evaluate options. “
Cal State was pleased last fall to see “a slight increase in our overall registrations,” Hong said. “To support student retention, campuses have worked hard to maintain continuity of education and student services – while paying particular attention to the access and availability of particular programs that have grown in popularity. importance during the pandemic, such as basic needs initiatives, emergency grants and mental health services. We believe these have helped to help students stay in college. “
For this fall, Hong added, “There has been a slight drop in the number of applications we have received from first-time students and upper division transfers. However, we expect admission rates to increase slightly. . “
Hong said the key to the policy was “appropriate flexibility in admission and retention policies – adopting interim practices that reduce barriers while maintaining standards of excellence.” For example, Cal State suspended the use of standardized tests to make admissions decisions. “We have relaxed grading policies in response to extenuating circumstances. These efforts show students that CSU is here to encourage students to stay in college and succeed.”