A national study is predicting college enrollments to drop, but the university isn’t necessarily worried.
The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education released a study in 2008 detailing how changing demographics may curtail the success universities have had recruiting students during the past decade.
The 141-page report predicted that as the number children of baby boomers levels off, colleges could see an 11 percent drop in white non-Hispanic high school graduates, historically the most likely group to attend college, by 2015.
Ray Brown, dean of admissions, said some schools may be seeing the first signs of a smaller pool right now. While he would not reveal the names of any institutions, he said that many universities this year are seeing a severe downturn in the number of students who accept offers of admission by sending deposits. In some schools, deposits have dropped as much as 25 percent compared to this time last year, he said.
By contrast, the university has exceeded the number of commitments received at this time last year, Brown said.
“These schools are swallowing their tongues right now,” Brown said, “and we thankfully are one of the very few schools that are ahead in deposits. We are running way ahead in deposits.”
Alan Ramirez, an admission counselor at Southern Methodist University, said his school has so far received the same number of acceptance deposits it did last year. Jonathan Evans, an admission counselor at Baylor, said his school actually received about 5,000 more applications this year than last, but he was aware of the predicted downturn in applicants.
Brown maintained that the university is in a good position to weather any demographic changes that may take place over the next decade.
After about five years, the Office of Admissions discontinued its use of the Fast App, a streamlined application for students who might not otherwise apply to the university, Brown said.
Brown said the university discontinued the Fast App for a number of reasons, but primarily because the application had a low yield. Brown estimated that only about 15 percent of students admitted through the Fast App would eventually enroll at the university.
By contrast, about 35 percent of students admitted through the university’s Electronic Application chose to enroll.
Brown said he was not worried that the university would face any major crises in upcoming years and said the Office of Admissions was successful in admitting new students during the past decade mostly because of the improvement of campus facilities, the success of the football team and a faculty that he said has “very small egos.”
Brown said that if the university did face a crisis, the solution would probably be simply to pull further from the wait list, as happened last year when the Office of Admissions enrolled 300 students initially relegated to the wait list.