Despite predictions made late last year anticipating a 21% drop in enrollment at UCCS for spring 2021, institutional research has reported only a 7% decrease in student enrollment this semester.
In an article published in December, the Scribe reported that a decline of up to 21% would likely hit campus enrollment in the spring. These predictions were made in the ninth month of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the number of positive tests and hospitalizations were increasing throughout the country.
Despite a steeper predicted decrease, enrollment appears to have stabilized more than anticipated.
Campus research continues to monitor enrollment rates closely, especially as students continue to pursue classes in different formats.
Director of Institutional Research Robyn Marshke explains how this research accounts for these factors, basing original data on average enrollment rates of the previous few years.
“While recognizing that such patterns could change, we are still projecting Fall 2021 enrollment based on the data we have — and that projection is a decline of about 3-5% compared to Fall 2020,” Marshke said.
The current decrease is also not too far off from normal years when comparing fall and spring enrollment rates. According to Marshke, enrollment in the spring semester is always slightly less than the preceding fall semester as students leave or graduate at the end of December.
The adjustment to online and remote learning has taken a toll on many who prefer the in-person environment that they are used to. Until campus once again becomes a safe environment to interact in, enrollment rates will likely continue to be affected one way or another.
“The cultural norms of fortitude, perseverance and grit at UCCS will carry us to better days ahead when we can interact and learn together in person,” Marshke said.
The Office of Admissions at UCCS has been able to persevere throughout the pandemic, by conducting online campus tours and virtual one-on-one conversations with prospective students.
“We’ve really done a lot of outreach to get very topical,” said Chris Beiswanger, director at the Office of Admissions.
The Office of Admissions has been eagerly working to educate prospective students on what UCCS has to offer through specialized meetings with offices of financial support, faculty, advising and more throughout campus. They are also offering personalized sessions with those who want more information.
Over the past summer, the Office of Admissions had been able to solve what worked and re-strategize to see what people really like, according to Beiswanger.
So far, Beiswanger has seen that many prospective students and their families tend to enjoy more informal engagements and conversations with those on campus. Student employees at the Office of Admissions have continued to offer in-person tours on campus — with COVID-19 safety precautions in mind — and in smaller groups that allow for better engagement.
With all the effort being put in from Admissions, there is still no exact way to ensure a flat rate of enrollment each semester, with or without the pandemic in the way. As Beiswanger says, “one thing could just change everyone’s decision.”