By Dylan Marson
Enrollment of students at EKU has seen a slight decline over the last two years after peaking at record heights in 2015.
While total enrollment rates have dropped by about 1%, data from the Nov. 15 Board of Regents meeting shows that the number of freshmen enrollments has dropped by at least 7%. This decrease comes after freshmen enrollments reached an all-time high of 2,800 in 2015.
The Board of Regents projected that Kentucky will see a decrease of about 4% in the number of public high school graduates by 2023, a possible factor of the enrollment decrease.
While the decrease in enrollment has been slight, some students believe they have seen some effects on campus.
“In terms of the number of incoming freshman, I haven’t been able to notice any changes,” said Hunter Patrick, a junior computer science major. “However, the programs I have been involved in have seen a lack of students.”
Patrick continued to say the recent decrease in enrolling students could be the result of EKU’s status as a commuter school, which some people don’t like. He also said that EKU’s degree program requires lower standards than other schools.
Brett Morris, the director of admissions, said declines such as these are to be expected when the economy picks up and jobs are more plentiful. The trend can be seen in the number of incoming students at all levels.
“Higher education enrollment, like most enterprises, is governed by the laws of supply and demand,” Morris said. “The university works diligently to ensure that the programs offered meet the needs of prospective students and the Commonwealth as a whole.”
Despite freshmen enrollment having seen a noticeable dip, freshmen retention rates have maintained relatively little change.
After seeing an increase of about 4% in 2011, retention has continued to remain between 72% and 75% over the last five years. This could be attributed in part to the rise in the number of quality students in 2017 recorded by the Board of Regents. Compared to 2014, there has been an increase of over 200 more students with ACT scores of 24 and above. There has also been an increase of 360 students with a GPA of 3.5 and above.
“The faculty and staff are dedicated to helping students stay in college,” Morris said. “New efforts such as the Student Success Center and Freshman Academy are examples of efforts taken to help students find the support the need to succeed.”
Morris believes that the past three years have shown positive trends overall, and retention rates will likely remain the same, even with the decrease in student enrollment.