Enrollment numbers up since pandemic

By: Alexis Stallard, Guest Writer

Newman enrollment numbers for fall 2021 did bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, when enrollment took a sharp dip, but they still sit below fall 2019 numbers.

Newman’s enrollment numbers for this year show that in the fall of 2019, 3,205 students were enrolled. But during the pandemic -- which in March of 2020 sent students online to finish the semester -- numbers dropped. In the fall of 2020, enrollment had dropped by more than 1,000 students to 2,068.

Fall 2021 enrollment has risen to 2,623, earning back about 50% of the numbers lost during  COVID, according to numbers published on Newman’s website.

William Graves, director of Institutional Research at Newman, said the drop in enrollment was anticipated because of COVID and that a full rebound was not expected for this semester. However, Newman is working to create new programs meant to help retain existing students.

“We’re actually taking some steps, and an outside agency is going to be working with us,” Graves said.

Newman has a new program called Moving the Needle, Graves said. The program will work to set up multiple retention programs aimed at keeping current students.

The programs won’t just be focused on helping students with bad grades: Looking into the social atmosphere on campus will be the goal.

“If they feel like they are engaged with the Newman community and they see that it is a welcoming and accepting atmosphere, then they’re more likely to come back,” he said.

His office sent out a survey on Oct. 14 aimed at gauging students’ opinions about different aspects of campus. The questionnaire asked students to answer using a scale of “very dissatisfied” to “very satisfied.”  Questions touched on topics such as students’ experiences with admissions, student life, and athletics. The questionnaire allowed students to give written feedback.

Sophomore and women’s basketball player Elise Kaiser said she believes that Newman does not struggle with creating a welcoming environment for students.

“There’s definitely small clubs you can get involved in if you aren’t on an athletic team,” Kaiser said.

Even as an athlete, she is in multiple clubs on campus that match her interests. She said she feels that grades are a top priority for most students on campus and that the cost of Newman makes it even more important for students to keep scholarships.

Accessing the university’s online tutoring is not always convenient, she said, especially when teams are on the road for games.

“As an athlete, I wish we had a team tutor,” Kaiser said.

Students wishing to take the survey about their on-campus experience can find the survey in their Newman emails.

PHOTO: Courtesy Photo, Unsplash