Applications for Kent State regional campuses increased from last semester and retention of students has stabilized due to the persistence and dedication to maintaining strong relationships between faculty and students, according to the university’s enrollment management office.
Community colleges are down 10 percent in enrollment from last spring, according to NPR, and Kent State regional campuses are down three percent in enrollment. Andrew Crawford, the associate vice president of strategic enrollment management for regional campuses, attributes this success to the implementation of the enrollment management department.
Crawford joined the Kent State team last January before the campuses closed down and said he was brought on to execute, design and evaluate enrollment strategies. He said although enrollment is lower due to the pandemic, student applications for the fall 2021 semester are up.
“There's a lot of students that took a gap year and were making decisions about going to college as they were graduating high school last year. In the midst of COVID, some of them may have chosen to work and family circumstances may have required them to contribute to their families in different ways,” Crawford said. “Students are eager to get back to the new normal and going to college feels very much like normal.”
He also said he feels the success of the university’s retention is due to enrollment managers working directly with students on a day-to-day basis handling many jobs such as recruiting and financial and academic advising.
Elizabeth Driscoll DeWitt is the enrollment manager at the Ashtabula campus; she said many of the students feel they have a tremendous amount of support and guidance from staff.
“I've seen relationship building and maintenance between students and staff such as financial aid and academic support services,” DeWitt said. “We have some great relationships with our students that we were able to maintain because we're all very persistent in our communication.”
While applications recently increased, the regional campuses still want to improve enrollment, and the pandemic has created opportunities for exploring future programs, Crawford said.
“What the pandemic has done is positioned us to think innovatively and to think differently about what we offer our communities and regional campuses,” he said. “Now we think about how we can as a system be ahead of not just our competitors, but where we're going as a nation, as a society and as a world.”
Olivia Futo covers regional campuses. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.