Mark Pohl, associate vice president of Enrollment Management and Financial Aid at Grace College, is interviewed about college enrollment in this story from ABC 57, South Bend, Ind. A portion of the story appears below. Click here to read the complete article or view the broadcast.
College enrollment numbers up, despite pandemic
This week on The Learning Curve our team put k-12 schools to the side to take a look at how colleges are trying to keep enrollment numbers up.
When you go to IU South Bend off of Mishawaka Avenue – the first thing you notice is the silence.
There’s not the usual hustle and bustle you normally see or hear at a college campus. And that’s because colleges across America and here in Michiana have had to adjust the way they teach.
“So our focus was always a top priority, health, and safety. And then given that, how many kinds of impersonal environments can we offer for students, because we knew students would want some in-person interactions. And so once we figured out how to design those safely, then we could figure out okay, this 30% of classes can be in person. And so that was how we went about it,” Susan Elrod, the Chancellor at IUSB said.
With about 70% of students doing a mixture of 100% virtual or hybrid learning, school officials were expecting the worst when it comes to enrollment numbers.
“So we came in, we set a target for ourselves kind of knowing the covid landscape,” she said.
But in fact, the numbers surprised everyone….
But what about private universities like Grace College in Winona Lake that cost much more?
“This year, tuition is $26,532 for new students this year,” Mark Pohl, the Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management and Financial Aid at Grace College said. “Room and board here at grace is just under $10,000. So that would be on top of the tuition.”
Despite the high cost, enrollment numbers at grace college actually increased this year, even after a decrease in retention rates.
“We had over 10% increase and new students this fall. So about our second largest class ever at grace. And so that was really exciting for the college retention was down slightly as it wasn’t most places,” Pohl said.
College officials chalk that up to increased financial aid.
“So every college had to reevaluate their price point or financial aid,” he said. “What we did instead of lowering our price, we had the opportunity to offer more financial aid to students by ways of merit scholarships, grants from the college.”
“Because LSAT and ACT have been postponed, some were canceled, depending on the region of the country students from and so we went test-optional. And so we’ve actually made that a permanent policy here at rice, knowing that a student’s high school grades much better reflect their ability in college than a few hours on standardized tests,” he said.
And a new way of marketing the school.
“We haven’t been able to go into high schools like normal. And so one really unique thing we’ve done at grace is we brought our race speedboat to the parking lots of high schools. When they’re on lunch break, after school will be waiting in the parking lot to give out grace materials.,” he said. “So you know, part of it was we came out in May, saying that we had a plan to reopen in august and I think students wanted that”
Click here to read the complete article or view the broadcast.