Missionary age change less a factor than originally predicted
Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 23:09
Due to the missionary age change in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Oct. 2012, many USU officials and students expected the number of students enrolling at the school to drop exponentially.
Prior to this change, male churchgoers could go on missions when they turned 19, and women could go at the age of 21. This changed last fall when the age requirement was lowered to 18 for men and 19 for women.
USU President Stan Albrecht said the university had expected to lose between 1,250 to 1,450 students this fall, but due to strategies put in place to enroll more students, USU is only short about 500 students.
Vice President of Student Services James Morales has led the effort to combat the expected problem and is involved in the implemented strategies. He has put together a plan that examines students in the lower and upper divisions, undergraduates and graduate students and in-state and out-of-state students. By looking at these different categories, Morales is working to produce a plan to find a productive approach to USU enrollment.
“After the announcement was made, I asked James and his team to put together a strategy for responding,” Albrecht said. “He was working very close with the legislature to get a bill passed that allows us to recruit out-of-state students at in-state tuition rates for a period of time, as long as we are recruiting higher-end students, so we’ve offset most of the serious revenue impacts that would be followed by budget cuts.”
Albrecht said this has caused the average applicant index score for out-of-state students to rise 12 points above the average score of resident students.
However, Albrecht said these strategies were only able to be implemented because the bill didn’t pass until March. By that time, most out-of-state students had already decided where they were going to attend school in the fall.
Albrecht said the university did all it could to prepare for the fall 2013 semester. He said it will be easier to take more steps during the 2013-14 school semesters because it has been almost a year since the administration had to strategize and plan in order to avoid budget cuts.
“The freshman class will be down a bit, but not down near as much as it otherwise would have been,” Albrecht said. “The freshman class will be more diverse because we let more out-of-state students in as part of that freshman class.”
Albrecht said the university will deal with changes when the missionaries return.
“And then, of course, freshman classes in the future will be quite different because we’ll be dealing with 20-year-old freshmen as opposed to 18-year-old freshmen,” Albrecht said. “We’re doing a lot of thinking about how that changes the culture of this institution and how it affects where students live. It’s going to affect things like what the proportion of our students are married, or which students are parents before they graduate. All of these things are things that we are building into our model as we’re going forward.”