Local colleges seeing slight dip in overall enrollment during pandemic, jump in graduate students

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SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — With uncertainty surrounding college students’ choices in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Texas State University announced a slight dip in overall fall enrollment and freshman enrollment. However, the university saw growth with graduate students.

Texas State, the first university in Central Texas to share its numbers with KXAN, said 37,849 students are enrolled this semester, which is 382 fewer students than last fall. This is the fourth year in a row the university has seen a decline in overall fall enrollment.

The university typically sees record-setting growth with incoming freshman, but that’s not the case this year. There are currently 5,855 freshman enrolled, compared to 6,314 last fall.

Here’s a comparison of overall fall enrollment at Texas State:

  • 2016: 38,808
  • 2017: 38,694 (-114 from previous year)
  • 2018: 38,661 (-33)
  • 2019: 38,231 (-430)
  • 2020: 37,849 (-382)

“Texas State prepared for the fall semester focused on keeping our university community safe, and our students advancing toward their academic goals,” said Texas State University President Denise M. Trauth in a statement. “I am very proud of our faculty and staff for rising to the occasion to ensure the continuity of our education and research mission.”

The university did see a more that 8% jump in enrollment for all graduate degree programs. Four new graduate degree programs contributed to the increase. For the first time, applications for masters’ level programs topped 4,000 at Texas State.

“These Bobcats are returning, because they know the quality experience and education they will receive,” said Trauth.

Texas State Director of Media Relations Jayme Blaschke said he does not have a breakdown of how many students are taking all virtual classes versus in-person courses, but said about 42% of classes are being offered online and 58% are face-to-face.

“Only about 20% of all classes this fall will resemble a traditional face-to-face university class where all the students come together in a classroom two or three days a week,” said Blaschke.

St. Edward’s University

St. Edward’s University said it hit enrollment goals for the fall after downsizing its budget and laying off nearly 100 employees over the summer and exceeded graduate student goals.

“We just feel so fortunate that we’ve had a really strong start to the semester,” said Vice President for Enrollment Management Tracy Manier. “We had planned for 600 students to enroll in the freshman class and that’s exactly where it landed.”

Manier said the overall fall enrollment is 3,600. The university has not provided the total number of students who attended last fall, so it’s unclear how the two semesters compare.

Here’s a look at the numbers St. Ed’s shared:

  • Fall 2020: 3,600
    • Freshman: 600
    • New transfers: 190
    • New graduate students: 190

St. Ed’s sophomore Nolan Screen, who’s taking all virtual classes from home, gives his school and his professors an A+.

“I think the university’s provided a lot of resources for both students and staff to figure this whole new Zoom teaching out,” said Screen.

Austin Community College

At Austin Community College, fall enrollment is down by 2% compared to last fall, which does not include continuing and adult education courses.

ACC Vice President of Student Affairs Shasta Buchanan said the total number of continuing students is up, and the community college worked hard over the summer to fight an enrollment drop in the midst of the pandemic.

“It’s a huge effort,” said Buchanan. “It’s not one thing that gets our students or keeps our students enrolled it is a combination of a whole lot and then some love sprinkled throughout.”

ACC has nearly a dozen campuses across Central Texas and is loaning some students iPads and laptops and offering WiFi in all campus parking lots.

University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin said it plans to release its fall enrollment numbers early next week.

KXAN has fall enrollment requests in with other local colleges and universities as well and will update this story and the interactive fall 2020 outlook map in this story with those numbers.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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