St. Cloud State University and St. Cloud Technical and Community College are both facing an enrollment change during their fall 2018 semester and it is a trend that has continued to fluctuate over the years. The enrollment numbers at St. Cloud State University are down from last year once again going from around 14,500 to about 13,500 students.
With enrollment dropping again in 2018, that makes it the forth out of the last five school years that St. Cloud State’s numbers have gone down instead of up.
“What we’re seeing in the industry in higher education is a real transformation in enrollment and what we call enrollment management,” St. Cloud State vice president of academic affairs Dan Gregory said.
When it was verified that St. Cloud State’s enrollment has gone down between 2017 and 2018, it wasn’t an unexpected statistic for the university. Gregory said that based on their modeling from 2017 and the downward slope enrollment has taken over the years for colleges, SCSU took all of the necessary precautions to withstand the low numbers.
“The industry overall is changing so we’re starting to change our strategies and approaches to do that,” Gregory said. “We have some things here at St. Cloud State that other institutions don’t have and they will not be able to compete with us.”
St. Cloud State isn’t alone in this uphill climb for numbers as they are one of many schools that are following the national trend right now and are trying to overcome the loss in new and returning students.
“I think previously we had both been experiencing the same enrollment trends where we have had some declining enrollment up to this point,” St. Cloud Technical and Community College dean of enrollment management Amie Anderson said.
Unlike the schools that are following the national trend, just down the road from St. Cloud State, St. Cloud Technical and Community College saw a 1.5 percent increase in enrollment between 2017 and 2018. With SCTCC’s enrollment increasing this school year, this is the first time in five years that their numbers have gone up instead of down.
“We’re fortunate at the technical and community college this fall semester to be seeing a slight upswing in our enrollment,” Anderson said. “It’s what our goals were, to write the ship and get the enrollment trending upward again.”
Although SCSU and SCTCC are two different schools in the granite city it is their goal to try to work together with each other and build enrollment. These two institutions feed off of each other and rely on one another to get more students in their schools and Anderson said SCTCC is lucky with this sudden increase.
“We’ve been fortunate that our declining enrollment is not at the same pace or rate of decline as many of our partner institutions across the state system… so it’s really a positive sign to see that moving in the other direction [for us],” she said.
The constantly fluctuating enrollment numbers at colleges has a lot to do with their direct funnel from high schools since there are more students deciding not to get a secondary education. Gregory and Anderson agree that it is a problem that needs to be addressed so people are educated for the future.
“We are experiencing a decline in the traditional school age population, so just from a straight demographic standpoint, there are fewer students who are graduating high school and are coming forward into college because there are fewer 18-year-olds,” Anderson said.
Gregory said SCSU is very unique and stands out compared to other colleges because of its affordability, location and care for its students. St. Cloud State touts itself for getting students ready for the workforce and offers hands-on experience right from day one for freshmen.
“We have people on this university that care very deeply about our students developing successful careers and they go above and beyond everyday to make sure students have what they need to be successful,” Gregory said.
Although the numbers may be dropping at St. Cloud State over the course of the last few years, the university isn’t worried about rebounding quickly from this hole.
“We’re [not] happy or satisfied with enrollment going down, [but] we’re taking some very aggressive action to reverse that trend and I think over the next couple of years you’re going to see that trend reversing,” Gregory said.
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