Mirroring a nation-wide trend, Mercyhurst University has experienced a drop in its traditional freshman enrollment for the incoming class of 2017.
In 2012, the United States Census Bureau reported college enrollment in the United States had dropped by nearly half a million students, affecting colleges and universities from coast to coast, including Mercyhurst.
Two years ago, the ‘Hurst reported “record-setting, school-wide enrollment.” In contrast, the freshman class of 2016 entered with a total of 680 traditional-aged freshmen, followed by the class of 2017 with a reported 677 incoming freshmen.
When asked about the drop in enrollment this year, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Chris Coons said there were several external factors influencing the decline.
“First and foremost,” Coons said, “demographics probably had the greatest impact as there is a significant decline in high school graduates in our primary markets.” He noted that despite the significant need- and merit-based assistance offered, families are still sensitive to the price of a higher education.
Some students are also responding to the financial pressures by taking a roundabout route to their degree,” Coons said. “Many students, specifically undeclared students, are choosing to enroll at community colleges for two years to earn general education requirements in preparation to transfer to a four-year institution,” he said.
In order to prevent another decrease in enrollment like we saw this year, Coons said “the administration, faculty and staff will be collaborating on a wide variety of strategies this year” to draw more interest from areas of geographic growth, as well as offer more opportunities for prospective students to visit campus.
Coons said that the administration will be making strong efforts to ensure that 2014 is the best enrollment year possible.
“We need to do an even better job at promoting the quality and value of a Mercyhurst University education,” said Coons, “no matter a student’s major.”