ETSU enrollment is down– not that you’ve noticed.
The university is still combing through the data on an official headcount, but preliminary findings contains 100 fewer freshmen this semester. When those 100 students are considered across the more than 13,000 Buccaneers, the impact is negligible, both in the classroom and in parking spaces.
Ramona Williams, vice provost for enrollment, assures that the decrease is no shock to the university. Her department pores through studies and statistics, like a region’s birthrate 18 years prior, to establish prolonged expectations of ETSU’s enrollment. For fall 2016, the slight decrease was certainly anticipated.
“Did we want to be down? Absolutely not. But we knew were going to be down a little this year,” said Williams.
Williams says not one or two significant factors can account for the decrease. She says it is a mixture of aspects such as birthrate, community college enrollment increase, competing universities marketing in the area, the surrounding job landscape and so on.
Examining data at other Tennessee colleges is something the enrollment department does, but the information is not definitive. Williams remarked how University of Memphis and Austin Peay State University are both up in enrollment.
When studying enrollment data of other schools, she says there isn’t a defining factor in accessing the course of an increase or decrease; Austin Peay State offers associate degrees (ETSU does not), but that is not a new program. Rather, Williams asserts, colleges are all subject to seemingly random fluctuations in data, and ETSU is no exception.
While the decrease didn’t stun the university, Williams assures that doesn’t mean they turn a blind eye towards it.
“We’re working very hard, already out recruiting and on the road for fall of ’17,” she said.
Recruiting means ETSU officials visiting high schools, participating in college fairs, doing follow-ups and open house events with prospective students, expanding focus to Middle and West Tennessee, as well as out of state in Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia.
“We’re all competing for the same students,” Williams said.