More Aggies than expected
University enrollment down, but not as much as officials thought
Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 17:10
USU’s enrollment numbers did not drop as much as expected after last year’s age change for missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Official enrollment numbers were released Thursday from the Utah System of Higher Education for all eight of Utah’s public colleges and universities, and although they have shown a slight decline, the change was not as drastic as anticipated.
From fall 2012 to 2013, the headcount for USU students dropped from 28,786 to 27,812 — a total of 974 students. From that number, there are 288 fewer male students and 686 fewer female students, according to Michael Torrens, director of the Office of Analysis, Assessment and Accreditation.
However, when considering full-time students, USU had a drop of 2.04 percent, or 392 students.
One assumed reason for the drop in enrollment was the lowering of age requirements for LDS missionaries, announced in October 2012.
James Morales, vice president for Student Services, said most of the negative effects the university could have seen, such as budget cuts, were minimized by increased recruiting efforts.
“Nobody knew that announcement was coming,” said John Mortensen, assistant vice president for Enrollment Services and Retention. “As soon as we knew about it, we were really proactive. I think we were probably faster than anyone in our response. I don’t think our admissions office gets enough credit in minimizing the effect of it as much as they should.”
Corey Mikkelsen, associate director of recruitment, said the announcement made increased the necessity to focus on transfer and out-of-state recruiting. He said when the Utah Legislature approved a waiver for out-of-state tuition fees, it helped give nonresident students more motivation to consider USU.
“Before the waiver, it was kind of like going out and recruiting without ammunition,” Mikkelsen said. “We did a lot of the same things we always do. We just magnified it. We had open houses in spring instead of just fall. We gave scholarships on the spot to those who qualified.”
The nonresident waiver allows students from out-of-state with a certain academic standing to go to school for their first year while paying the price of in-state tuition. They are expected to attain residency in that year to continue to pay resident tuition.
The legacy waiver was already in place to some extent, allowing children of USU alumni to go to school and pay in-state tuition, but the state has extended that scholarship to grandchildren of USU graduates as well.
“More than one faculty member has told me that it is much more diverse,” Morales said. “There are students from different backgrounds, which leads to a broad array of perspectives when it comes to the classroom.”