6 percent decrease in enrollment at Fort Lewis College this semester has prompted change in
A the administration's efforts to recruit students.
Downward Trend in Enrollment
Although the numbers are not completely compiled yet, FLC is anticipating an across-the-board decrease of about 6 percent, Mitch Davis, the public affairs officer for FLC, said.
“It’s significant but not unexpected,” Davis said.
“On a macro-level, we are in a trough of high school graduates. The last couple years, we’ve seen a declining number of high school graduates here in Colorado. This past year was the trough. We will start to dig ourselves out of that trough in the next few years, and in 2021 those numbers will start to rebound,” said Andrew Burns, the FLC director of admission.
These speculations are based on macro-level trends, he said.
Burns said on Tuesday, he met with administrators from the community college system, who are also observing lower enrollment numbers in Fall 2014.
Both Davis and Burns said that the lower enrollment numbers have been budgeted with careful consideration by the Budget Office.
The decrease was seen mostly in freshmen without a declared major and in-state, non-native students, Davis said.
Many potential students in this region are choosing to work in the oil industry, making 15 to 20 dollars an hour and looking at the short-term benefit as opposed to getting an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree, Burns said.
Consequences of Lower Numbers
The decrease has made FLC administration cautious for the future of enrollment numbers, but the school doesn’t anticipate the downward trend to continue, Davis said.
Although the administration anticipates that enrollment numbers will increase in the future, they are making efforts to ensure that this will be the case.
“We’re certainly not complacent with where we are, and the strategic plan sets forth a two percent enrollment growth each year. That’s my mantra. That’s what we’re focused on,” Burns said.
Several strategies have been implemented in the Office of Admission in an effort to step up recruitment at FLC.
Changes include the addition of a new admission counselor and associate director of enrollment. They are also reaching out to potential students with an improved scholarship program, Burns said.
“I think we’re going to find that our low cost of tuition and increased scholarships should make Fort Lewis an even more attractive option for students,” Burns said. “We’re trying to emphasize the hallmarks of the institution of personal attention, liberal arts emphasis and affordability and a quality education and trying to reach out to students a little more effectively and strategically.”