BY WATCHING ADAMS STAFF – 2/13/18
Continuing a five year downward trend, undergraduate student enrollment at Adams State University (ASU) declined in the spring 2018 semester, with a net drop of -3.55% since spring 2017. Previously, spring 2017 had a decline of -3.6% and spring 2016 declined by -4.4%.
During the three years of ASU President Beverlee J. McClure’s tenure, ASU enrollment has dropped from 1770 undergraduates in 2015 to 1577 in 2018; the decline of 193 students enrolled represents an -11% loss overall.
The spring 2017-2018 enrollment comparison is online here:
ENROLLMENT LOSSES IN EVERY CLASS
As the larger group of ASU students moved through their degree plans between 2013-2017, fewer and fewer freshman and sophomores replaced them. While spring 2017 saw a growth in senior enrollment by 3.87%, that cohort graduated while a declining class of 29 fewer freshman (-6.9%) attended Adams State.
By fall 2017, freshman enrollment had dropped -12% from the previous year, with sophomore declining by -8%, juniors declining by -17%, and senior enrollment increasing by 6% over their 2016 cohorts. But with that class graduating, spring 2018 enrollment saw enrollment losses in every class.
INCREASES IN NON DEGREE AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT ENROLLMENT
Despite this overall downward trend, there were some notable gains in enrollment. For spring 2018, undergraduate/non degree seeking enrollment rose by 45 students (204.55%), re-admitted enrollment increased by 11 students (37.93%) and high school student enrollment increased by 42 students (144.83%).
If local high school concurrent enrollment translates to a larger incoming freshman class, it could be possible for some of these enrollment losses to be reversed. However, that is largely dependent upon attracting and retaining more San Luis Valley students to pursue a degree from Adams State.
DECLINING RESIDENT AND NON-RESIDENT STUDENTS
Between spring 2017-2018, enrollment for Colorado resident undergraduates at ASU decreased by 37 students, or -2.74%. Non-resident enrollment also decreased by 21 students, or -7.34%. ASU also lost 94 continuing students, or -6.36%.
The loss of non-resident students is especially notable given that out of state tuition revenue would help office ASU’s ongoing budgetary shortfalls.
One ASU employee pointed out, “the gains in high school and undergraduate non-degree students are not matched by a proportional increase in full time enrollment credits. Grouping these factors together, the decline in tuition for ASU is likely to be greater than the 3.55% drop.”
Another ASU staff member observed, “these numbers are alarming, especially with the disastrous decision to move to a guaranteed tuition model. I remember President McClure advocating for guaranteed tuition and she stated that we only needed 144 additional students for it to work. Yet enrollment is down by that amount and 50 more. One has to wonder how this has exacerbated our financial crisis. A thorough analysis would be telling; it would tell exactly how little McClure knows about higher ed finance.”