Enrollment rate drops

How the drop in enrollment can impact the student body

There are 661 fewer freshman this year.

North Dakota State University has seen enrollment rates steadily decreasing since 2016, but this year’s enrollment rates have been the lowest in a decade.

On the first day of school, enrollment numbers were calculated to give the university a preliminary estimate of how many students are attending NDSU. The freshmen class was projected at 2,240 students adding up to a total of 13,135 undergraduates. This is 661 fewer students than last year meaning a five percent drop. The last time enrollment numbers were around this number was in 2008 with 13,229 students enrolled. Enrollment rates hit a peak in 2014 with 14,747 students enrolled, but have dropped since.

The number of graduate students has stayed about the same as last year. There are 302 new graduate students that make up 1,866 total graduate students.

There is some speculation of what can be causing the drop in enrollment. The Fargo Forum reported that the change in demographics and economic statuses are some of the reasons why college-aged individuals are not choosing to enroll in four-year universities. There are also more competitive markets involved when it comes to higher education.

When looking at other campuses across North Dakota, the University of North Dakota is facing similar issues, but with a smaller effect. According to the Grand Forks Herald, UND has seen a slight drop in enrollment this year. With the early headcount numbers, UND has 13,372 enrolled students while last year’s enrollment was at 13,445.

Mayville State University isn’t facing the same rate drops as NDSU and UND. They saw an increase of one percent when it came to this year’s enrollment rates. The increasing enrollment rates are proving that many students are choosing smaller public universities since affordability is one of the main factors that gain their attention when deciding what college to attend.

Along with the drop in enrollment comes the question of graduation. Laura Oster-Aaland, the vice provost of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, had some recent research on graduation rates. The four-year graduation rates have increased by 11% since the fall of 2013 to the fall of last year. “Substantial improvements to our graduation rates is a significant and very positive factor,” Oster-Aaland stated.

Overall the impact from the enrollment drops can affect the student body as a whole. The number of international students and the amount of empty residence hall rooms and apartments are some examples.

International Student Enrollment

Alicia Kauffman, the director of International Student and Study Abroad Services, had some input on the international student enrollment rates. In the past two years, the number of new international students who come to the U.S. has dropped. Last year there was a decline in the number of international students studying in the U.S. overall.

To promote NDSU to international students, Kauffman gave a list of some ways they encourage students from around the world to come to Fargo. “We like to talk about what Fargo has to offer and what NDSU has to offer,” Kauffman said. “We’re still really competitive because we have a good cost of living and we have the conveniences of a big city without the distractions.”

Another way to promote NDSU is through the international students that study here. Whether they study at NDSU for a semester or all four years, those students can go back to their countries and tell their family and friends about their experiences at NDSU. “Often students go home over winter break and we let them know that they can take some brochures or give a presentation. We invite them to do that.”

As to how NDSU can bring in more international students Kauffman had some ideas. “The more that we can use student’s stories that are here to showcase their experiences, that will bring more students from a diverse array of countries that they see themselves representing,” Kauffman said. “Right now we are working on some testimonials from current students to talk about what they love about Fargo and NDSU along with what they would recommend to new students applying.”

“I would like to see that it will increase again. I know that there’s more competition it seems like recently with Australia and the U.K. along with other English speaking countries, but I know that there are a lot of students who still want to come to the U.S. to study. It’s just about reaching those students and communicating with them in an effective way to help them with the application process and show them what NDSU can offer to make them want to come here,” Kauffman claimed.

Empty Housing

Another effect of lower enrollment rates is the empty rooms in the residence halls and vacant apartments across Fargo. On-campus housing is about 90% full this year. Along with the residence halls are the apartments that remain vacant. Although there aren’t enough students to fill the housing void, construction companies like Roers continue to build apartment complexes in residential communities making those residents deal with the construction in their backyards.

Though this was the first headcount of the year, the official number of students who are enrolled will be announced Sept. 25. This will fully determine whether more students will be enrolled or drop out for the start of the 2019 school year.

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