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. Buccaneers defense was among NFL's best when its pressure got to the QB

    Bucs

    It doesn't matter how many times they've thrown a football. It doesn't matter how many seasons they've played. It doesn't matter whether they have a degree from Harvard or Central Florida.

    Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy recorded 6.5 sacks last season, but many of his other contributions didn't show up in the box scores. [ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times]

  2. What you need to know for Thursday, June 29

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    See that thing in the water? No? That's the point. It's that time of the year when stingrays are often lurking in the sand, often not visibly. Remember to do the stingray shuffle if you're out at the beach this weekend. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
  3. Pinellas beaches seeing fewer injuries from stingrays, but the summer is still young

    Environment

    FORT DE SOTO — Rebecca Glidden leaned back in her lifeguard chair, watching behind sunglasses as families splashed in the water at Fort De Soto's North Beach.

    A Clearwater water safety supervisor demonstrates the stingray shuffle. Pinellas beaches are reporting relatively few injuries from stingrays so far this year, but they anticipate more as the summer wears on. Officials are reminding beachgoers to do the shuffle when they enter the water and keep an eye out for purple flags flying from the lifeguard towers, which indicate stingray activity. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  4. Weeki Wachee River advocates agree to work to resolve issues

    Local Government

    WEEKI WACHEE — Degradation of the Weeki Wachee River is a complex mix of circumstances, with a variety of jurisdictions holding the authority to fix the problems. That has made finding solutions over the years more about frustration than success.

    A boat and kayak drift into one another as they share the narrow passage near Rogers Park on the Weeki Wachee River in March. Advocates fear too many vessels are damaging the river.
  5. Despite change in Cuba policy, cruise ships sail on

    Tourism

    TAMPA -- It's smooth sailing for cruises from Tampa to Havana, with the first of Carnival Cruise Line's 12 such excursions launching today, two months after Royal Caribbean's initial voyage from Port Tampa Bay to the island.

    The Empress of the Seas cruise ship docks at the Port Tampa Bay Cruise Terminal 3 in Tampa. President Donald 

Trump's new Cuba policy may not hurt cruises to Havana at all. In fact, it may help these cruises. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times