BY CHRISTINA SCULLY
After a 13-year streak of record-breaking admission numbers at The University, faculty, staff and students welcomed about 890 members of the class of 2017 to campus this fall.
This first-year class is the smallest class size currently attending The University. Joe Roback, the vice president of admissions and undergraduate enrollment, said that the number of incoming first-year students was slightly under the admission department’s goal, but there were more challenges that had to be overcome this year. One of the factors that played into enrollment total was Hurricane Sandy, the storm that hit the East Coast last October.
“The college visit is incredibly important to the admissions process,” Roback said. “Hurricane Sandy drastically affected our attendance at open house. That one hurt us in terms of having our numbers down.”
Tuition is also a factor in students’ decisions when choosing a college to attend. Roback said they do their best to keep tuition similar to what it has been over the years.
According to The University’s website, tuition rates for the fall 2012 semester were $37,106 at a flat rate, with room tuition between $7,500 and $8,718, and meal plans between $3,700 and president of finance/treasurer said that the tuition for this year includes $38,404 at a flat rate, with room tuition costing an average $7,724 and meal plans costing an average of $5,662. This totals a cost of about $51,800.
Steinmetz said that with fewer students there is a financial impact on The University, but major budget cuts are not needed.
“We always budget at a number lower than our admissions target,” Steinmetz said. “It will have a financial impact in the current fiscal year, but we adjust the operating budget based on the size of the incoming class.”
The financial impact is not the only result of the smaller class size. Hafey Hall, a first-year dorm, is closed for the 2013-2014 academic year because of the size of the class of 2017.
Barbara King, the director of residence life, said that they just did not need the space this year. 57 beds remain empty in the first-year dorm.
“Based on what we needed for first-year housing, this was the fiscally responsible decision,” King said. “It gave us the opportunity to switch things around with other dorms and make some co-ed. It will be opening again next year.”
While the building is closed for residents, King said Hafey will be opening up next month for The University’s annual Haunted House after fall break.
Although there are visible and financial effects of a smaller class, The University is not the only college where enrollment is decreasing. According to a Wall Street Journal article published July 25, Loyola University New Orleans saw a 25 percent decrease in incoming students this fall. Additionally, college enrollment on a national scale dropped 2.3 percent last spring. Roback said he does not see this as a trend in years to come at The University.
“There is no substitute for earning a four-year bachelor’s degree. The competitiveness of the market tells you that,” Roback said. “Each market is different. We are very strong. The strength of our institution, the value that we have – it will carry us. It has and it will.
“It is the ebb and flow of admissions,” he said. “It is always a challenge, but when you have the product that we have – the people that represent the school – faculty, staff, students – it is truly a pleasure to work here and see our students grow.”
Roback said that although numbers are lower this year, it all balances out. Two years ago, The University community welcomed one of its biggest classes in history.
“One year is higher, and another is lower,” Roback said. “We had a great year, all things considered.”
Despite the smaller class size, Roback is very excited about the class of 2017.
“This class is an incredibly talented class,” he said. “This was our most competitive applicant pool in the school’s history. The class of 2017 is an outstanding addition to The University family.”
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