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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Final fall 2020 undergraduate enrollment results

As the scope and scale of the pandemic's effects on higher education became apparent during the spring, institutions across the country were concerned about fall enrollment. 

Some of the results reported by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center have been unsettling. Freshmen enrollment across the country is down 16% nationwide. First-year community college enrollment is down 23%. Total undergraduate enrollment -- which includes new students and continuing students -- across all types of institutions is down 4%. Four-year for-profit colleges showed an increase of undergraduate enrollment by 3% over last fall, but all other institution types were down. 

That's the national picture. CLA also saw the pandemic's impact on our enrollment, but fortunately not at the level seen nationwide. In CLA, we welcomed 2339 freshmen students in fall 2020. That number excludes a larger than usual number of deferrals to spring and fall 2021. Our 2019 fall incoming class of first-year students was 2607, thus we were down in 2020 by a little over 10%.

There are some qualifiers to that decline. Our 2019 recruitment was very strong and over our target. The fall 2019 class also included 100+ students who were located in CLA prior to moving to Nursing in their sophomore year. Starting this year, those students go directly to Nursing. If we set aside those students for comparison purposes, last year's incoming class was around 2500 students, making the drop in first-year students from ‘19 to ‘20 about 6.5%. We also saw declines in our number of new transfer students: 1,069 in '20 versus 1,165 in '19 (down 8%). At the undergraduate level, drops in enrollment by non-reciprocity out-of-state students and international students explain the bulk of the decrease. International students were 6% of our new first-year class, down from about 8.5% in 2019. Among new transfer students, international students were 8% in 2020, down from 14% in 2019. I'll discuss graduate enrollment in a future message.

One very positive outcome of this year's recruitment concerns diversity. BIPOC students or students of two or more races are about 32% of freshmen and 35% of transfers. Among all undergraduates, 29% are BIPOC students or students of two or more races. All three of these percentages mark all-time highs for the college. You can explore these data in more detail at CLA Reporting and Analytics. 

In a tough environment, we can feel reasonably good about these recruitment results. We will collectively have to acknowledge and work through the budgetary consequences of a smaller undergraduate enrollment than hoped, but we can be grateful not to be seeing the kinds of declines reported nationally. 

Thank you to everyone in the college who had a hand directly in recruiting new students and those departments and faculty and staff who have done such effective work in recruiting diverse new students to the college. And thank you to all of you across the college for creating the kind of excellence and opportunity, through your research, instruction, engagement, student support, and career readiness, that makes students want to be here. I also thank everyone we work with at the University level, particularly our partners in Admissions, for their tireless recruitment efforts during a challenging year.