An increasing number of colleges and universities are facing declines in enrollment according to a recent New York Times article.
Moody’s Investor Service, a credit ratings agency, released its annual survey on higher education, which stated that half of the schools polled were not only experiencing decreasing enrollment, but expecting it to continue as well. The New York Times article reported that multiple years of recession, an unstable job market and students building up $1 trillion in debt, according to the federal government, have been contributing factors to such a decline.
“All you have to do is look at the numbers,” said George L. Mehaffy, vice president of a division of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, in Washington, D.C. “In general, it was growing up until the economic crisis and the rise in cost of tuition. That’s what’s either flattened out the number of people participating, or certainly dampened the growth of our education, despite the interest of trying to have a lot of Americans go to college and finish college.”
Oswego State is experiencing its own decline. For the fall 2012 semester, Oswego State enrolled its smallest number of degree-seeking, first-time freshmen students in recent memory, according to the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment. In 2012, 1,273 freshmen were registered at Oswego, down from 1,336 in 2011, and far from 1,473 in 2008.
The numbers are a result of a decrease in overall applicants and the percentage of admitted students that enrolled. While the percentage of the applied students that were admitted actually increased from 47 percent in 2008 to 48 percent in 2012, the number of applicants decreased from 9,965 in 2008 to 9,764 in 2012 and the number of students admitted who enrolled decreased from 31 percent in 2008 to 27 percent in 2012.
Likewise, transfer student numbers are at their lowest point since 2008. In 2012, 762 students transferred to Oswego State, down from 801 in 2011. As with first-time freshman students, the decline is a result of a decrease in the amount of applications and admitted students who enrolled, down from 2,530 applicants in 2011 to 2,280 applicants in 2012 and 60 percent admitted who enrolled in 2011 to 58.2 percent admitted who enrolled in 2012.
Dr. Mehran Nojan, director of the office of Institutional Research and Assessment, gathers these statistics by tracking the amount of students registering on myOswego. With so many students and complicated data, Institutional Research and Assessment and the Office of Admissions works to ensure these figures are accurate.
“We allow for the period of ‘add’ and ‘drop’ to be concluded and then we take a snap shot of the registration data,” Dr. Nojan said. “The student information and their registration records are processed through our information management system for review, flagging errors/discrepancies and correction if needed.”
The number of students studying in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has increased over the last few years, while the School of Communication, Media and the Arts and School of Business levels have remained steady. The School of Education has seen a dip in declared majors in its department over the last four years.
As of the fall 2012 semester, 1,230 undergraduate students were registered in the School of Education. This is down 612 students from 2008, and down 265 from last year.
Dr. Barbara Garii, Associate Dean of the School of Education, said that economics, regulation and demographics are responsible for this reduction.
“During this time of economic recession, locally and nationally, many current teachers are delaying their retirement,”Garri said. “Thus, there are fewer job opportunities for new graduates, Simultaneously, a number of changes in New York State teacher preparation requirements and an ongoing national dialogue regarding the reform of teacher preparation requirements may have encouraged some students to delay entry into teacher preparation programs until stasis is achieved.”
Dr. Garri also said that state and national demographic trends point to fewer students in the 18-21 age range overall, the traditional age that students enter teacher preparation programs.
New results from the Office of Admissions, however, are looking more positive. According to the office, the Spring 2013 semester enrolled close to 60 more students than Spring 2012.
“We’ve definitely made a lot more in-roads, in the sense of types of communications we’re having with perspective students,” said Luke Nadzadi, assistant director of the Office of Admissions. “Where we went to recruit students, we are now into some surrounding states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut.”
Nadzadi also said that Oswego State is offering more presidential scholarships than last year, and that early decision enrollment for the Fall 2013 semester is the highest it has ever been. The number of applications received is up three percent from this time last year, though the college’s standards and criterion have remained unchanged.
“We have an ambitious recruitment plan that includes hundreds of college fairs, high school visits and two-year college visits,” said Dan Griffin, Associate Director of Admissions. “An extensive online recruitment including Hobsons, Zinch, Student Search, Facebook and Twitter; a sophisticated communication plan; and many, many open houses, information programs and tours, to name a few.”
Griffin also said that they have been promoting campus improvements, particularly the soon-to-be-completed science complex.
The admissions office’s goal for each fall is to enroll at least 1,300 new freshmen and 700 transfers. About 5,000 have been accepted to Oswego already for this fall.
“We’re definitely closing the gap of where we were short,” Nadzadi said.