Changing trends of fall college enrollment

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Usually May is decision month for high school seniors across the country to finalize where they’re heading to continue their education in the fall, but this year, many of those plans are on hold or greatly changed because of the pandemic. 

“Typically March through May high school seniors are getting ready to make their big decision to select where they’re going to be for the next four years,” Madeleine Ellis, Augustana’s Director of Undergraduate Enrollment said.

This year, the usual campus visits were cancelled or moved online and the usual May first decision day is now pushed back to June.

“We do have students who are still applying, either they were considering another option and now want to be on a smaller campus community that’s a little more flexible to navigate the pandemic,” Ellis said.

Augustana University announced last week that it will be hosting on-campus classes and living in the fall, which is attracting some new enrollment.

“We’re seeing a trend in students who were potentially going to go to a big east coast school or big west coast school, then as this was all unfolding, ok there’s some comfort to being close to home,” Ellis said.

But the number of students enrolling from out of the Sioux Falls region is taking a hit.

“We’re feeling enrollment pressures just like nearly every college and university in the country right now,” Ellis said.  “We are seeing a decrease in some students from further away from home, but we will see a smaller incoming class than we’re typically used to.”

“Our fall enrollment is doing quite well, we’ve been tracking up about seven or eight percent over this time last year, so that’s a good sign heading into fall,” Southeast Tech President Bob Griggs said.

Fall enrollment numbers look very different this year at Southeast Tech in Sioux Falls, continuing a national trend where many community colleges are seeing a boost during the pandemic.

“We produce a number of essential workers for the workplace and those individuals are still in high demand in our region, so I think a lot of our students are looking to come into a program that might be a year or two years and then get started on their career,” Griggs said.

Southeast Tech says they’ve seen a steady increase in enrollment over the past several years both in person and in the online courses they offer. The technical college also plans to host classes on campus this fall, with some added safety measures in place. 

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