ENMU Fall Enrollment Numbers See Decline

As the add/drop date for classes at Eastern New Mexico University has passed, official numbers are in from ENMU’s Institutional Research concerning the total enrollment headcount as well as retention rates for the university.

The total number of students enrolled is down 7.5 percent from the fall semester of 2019, which itself had seen a drop in total enrollment of 5.3 percent compared to the previous year, totaling a 12.8 percent decrease in total enrollment over the past two years, according to ENMU’s Institutional Research. Official numbers as of Friday, September 4, 2020, show the enrollment headcount for the fall of 2018 for ENMU at 6,015, the fall of 2019 at 5,694, and the current fall semester at 5,268.

While the university has seen an overall decrease in numbers compared to the previous year, the number of graduate students specifically has seen an uptick in enrollment, having increased by 9.7 percent compared to last year. Undergraduate headcounts, however, have decreased by 12.2 percent compared to the fall of 2019.

Concerning the demographics of the overall decline in the number of enrolled undergraduate students, the numbers for concurrent/dual enrollment students saw the biggest drop, at a 27.2 percent decrease from the prior year, while first time freshmen headcounts are down by 21 percent, and the transfer student headcount saw a decrease in numbers by 14.5 percent.

Retention rates for first time, full-time freshmen over a one-year period, beginning in the fall of 2019 to present, has seen a 2 percent decrease compared to fall 2018–19 first time, full-time freshmen retention rates.

Overall numbers concerning applications received by the school and admissions granted by the school were down compared to the previous year. For first time freshman applicants, numbers for fall 2020 were down 12 percent, the headcount of freshman applicants admitted was down 23 percent, and of those admitted, the total number of students who went on to enroll saw a 29 percent decrease compared to the prior year’s fall freshman applicant, admits, and enrollee headcounts.

For transfer undergraduate applicants, numbers were down by 32 percent, the headcount of transfer undergrads admitted was down 17 percent, and the number of transfer admits who went on to enroll saw a 7 percent decrease compared to the prior fall transfer applicant, admits, and enrollee headcounts.

For graduate student applicants, numbers were down 6 percent, headcount of applicants admitted was down 26 percent, and the number of graduates admitted who went on to enroll was down 3 percent compared to the prior fall graduate student applicant, admits, enrollee headcounts.

Brendan Hennessey, Director of Institutional Research at ENMU, points to multiple factors that could be the reason for the decline in enrollment. While the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, (which may have caused many would-be college applicants to wait to apply to college, or apply to schools closer to home) is a probable factor, Hennessey also explained that, “Decline in overall freshman applications (and the declining cohort of first time freshmen generally) is largely related to a shrinking pool of high school seniors statewide and nationwide.”

For transfer students, however, the “dramatic decline in Transfer applications and admits may also be seen as potentially COVID related,” said Hennessey, but the relatively small decrease in the number of accepted transfer students who went on to enroll suggests that there may be an underlying function where some students local to the Portales area, who were enrolled elsewhere, are returning closer to home to continue their education.

“I can’t immediately explain the dramatic declines in applicants being offered admission among freshmen, transfers, or grad students,” said Hennessey. “The headcounts are just down, but transfers offered admission as a percent of all transfer applicants has increased for fall 2020 compared to fall 2019. More transfer students have complete and satisfactory applications.” However, for incoming freshmen, headcounts for applicants and admits were down, and the percent of freshmen applicants offered admission also saw a decrease.

As the academic fall semester for 2020 continues, retention and enrollment rates are subject to change. The information provided is the latest from ENMU as of Friday, September 4, 2020.

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