Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Small colleges face enrollment woes

First came the good news for St. Olaf College: Early-decision applications were way up this year.

Now comes the bad news: The number of regular applications is way down, about 30 percent fewer than at this time last year.

"To be quite honest, I don't know how we'll end up," said Derek Gueldenzoph, dean of admissions at the college in Northfield, Minn.

Getting exactly the right enrollment — always a tricky proposition — is especially crucial for small colleges with tuition-driven budgets. Last month, Beloit College in Wisconsin said it would eliminate about 40 positions because 36 fewer students than expected had enrolled. The college has about 1,300 students and gets three-quarters of its $55-million budget from tuition.

Not all private colleges are reporting fewer applications this year, but a survey of 371 private institutions released last week found two-thirds were greatly concerned about preventing a decline in enrollment.

Admissions officers point to several possible reasons for the drop in applications. Some students have pared their college lists this year. Many more are looking at less expensive state universities. Many institutions accepted more students under binding early-decision programs, and each such acceptance drains off an average of 8 to 10 regular-decision applications. Some experts also suspect that students are delaying their college plans.

The deadline at most colleges is still a few weeks off, so a last-minute flood of applications could raise the numbers to last year's level. But admissions officers say they are not counting on that.

"I've been doing this a long time, and I don't remember a year when applications started out behind and didn't end up behind," said Steve Thomas, director of admissions at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, where regular applications are running about 14 percent behind.

If some private colleges are grappling with the specter of too few applications, public universities and community colleges are having the opposite problem — more students at a time when their state financing is being slashed. In California and Florida, some public institutions have been forced to cap enrollment. Even in states like Pennsylvania, where the number of high school graduates is declining, applications to public universities are growing.

Small colleges face enrollment woes 12/21/08 [Last modified: Sunday, December 21, 2008 9:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pasco delays Irma food distribution after problems elsewhere

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco County has pulled the plug on a planned Food for Florida distribution at the Land O'Lakes Recreation Center that had been scheduled to open to the public on Sunday.

    Pasco County has postponed a planned Food for Florida distribution at the Land O' Lakes Recreation Center on Collier Parkway and is seeking an alternative site. Last week, commissioners said they feared a repeat of the long lines of traffic that appeared outside Plant City Stadium on Oct. 9. The nutrition program for people affected by Hurricane Irma had been scheduled to come to Land O' Lakes Oct. 18 to 27.  [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  2. Editorial: UF can set example for free speech

    Editorials

    White nationalist Richard Spencer is bringing his racist message Thursday to the University of Florida in a legitimate, if utterly repugnant, display of the First Amendment at work. As a public university, UF has little choice but to allow Spencer's speech to take place. Now the university and the broader community has …

    By responding with peaceful protests and refusing to be provoked into violence, UF and the Gainesville community can provide a powerful repudiation of Richard Spencer’s hateful message.
  3. Percussionist rocks out with a blazing triangle solo during Florida Orchestra performance (w/video)

    Blogs

    Oh, the poor triangle. It's the orchestra equivalent of a rock band's tamborine, and such easy fodder for jokes.

    John Shaw performs a triangle solo.
  4. Amazon expands in Tampa with Pop-Up shop in International Plaza

    Retail

    TAMPA — A new retailer known largely for its online presence has popped up at International Plaza and Bay Street.

    Shoppers walk past the new Amazon kiosk Tuesday at the International Plaza in Tampa. The kiosk, which opened last month, offers shoppers an opportunity to touch and play with some of the products that Amazon offers.
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]

  5. Andy Serkis' directing debut 'Breathe' is not so inspiring

    Movies

    After such a revolutionary acting career, Andy Serkis should be expected to make an equally inventive directing debut. Breathe is anything but that.

    Clare Foy and Andrew Garfield star in Breathe as Robin and Diana Cavendish, an English polio victim and his devoted wife, who pioneered disability rights and wheelchairs with ventilators. [Imaginarium]