While freshmen applications spike, overall enrollment declines

The recent enrollment numbers have been released by DePaul, showing that while applications and retention rates are increasing, the overall enrollment numbers are continuing to drop.

The entering 2018 freshman class was the university’s second-largest in its history, with 2,575 freshmen enrolling in the autumn quarter. The 2018 class held an additional 33 students over the 2017 class, which sat at 2,542.

Enrollment in the College of Computing and Digital Media, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and the Theatre School all increased between 2017 and 2018. However, the College of Business still holds the largest portion of freshmen at 25 percent despite enrollment numbers taking a slight dip between the 2017 and 2018 freshmen classes.

Overall freshmen applications rose over 20 percent in 2018, with DePaul receiving 26,169 applications as compared to the 21,613 applications from 2017.

Jon Boeckenstedt, the associate vice president of enrollment management, believes that the recent spike in applications last year was caused by the new software tool that DePaul has begun using, Slate, which allows those in the enrollment offices to have control over messaging and events, while also catching students who otherwise might have been lost.

If you look at traditional undergraduates.. you’ll find that head count has dropped a bit over the past five years, but the total credit hours taken has been more stable.”

— Jon Boeckenstedt, Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management

The application numbers are continuing to increase throughout this application season too, according to Boeckenstedt.

“We are seeing an increase again this year, although it’s nowhere near the 22 percent surge last year,” he said. “Right now, with our deadline a few weeks away, we are up about two percent over last year’s record.”

The number of admitted freshmen students rose from 15,506 in 2017 to 26,169 in 2018, however, the admission rate dropped from 72 percent to 68 percent between the last two years.

The yield rate, or the percentage of applicants who later enrolled in DePaul, has also experienced a gradual decline. Only 15 percent of admitted freshmen in 2018 chose to enroll with the university. The yield rate has slowly been dropping in recent years. In 2014, the percentage of admitted students sat at 19 percent but has been lowering nearly every year since.

The retention rates are also continuing to rise, according to enrollment management. The retention on freshman who entered in 2017 was at 85.9 percent – a little over two percent higher than the entering 2016 freshmen class.

Overall, however, the university is continuing to see a decline in enrollment across the board. Since 2011, enrollment numbers have slowly been going down between both undergraduate and graduate students. The total university enrollment was at 25,398 students in 2011, but now sits at 22,437 as of the 2018 year.

The School for New Learning (SNL), which is about to go through a complete restructuring later this year, has seen nearly 50 percent decline in enrollment throughout recent years. Law enrollment has also leveled off in the low 800s after “experiencing the same challenges almost every law school in the nation has endured,” according to university officials.

Despite the numbers, Boeckenstedt says it is nothing to worry about as less students are taking on more credit hours.

Annalisa Baranowski | The DePaulia

“Although there is a number we call ‘enrollment’ it’s more complex than that,” Broeckenstedt said. “If you look at traditional undergraduates, for instance [all colleges except SNL] you’ll find that headcount has dropped a bit over the past five years, but the total credit hours taken has been more stable. This is because the students who are enrolling tend to be more full-time and fewer part-time students.”

Boeckenstedt believes that a large contribution to the decline in enrollment numbers at DePaul is the decline in enrollment at local community colleges, where many students transfer to DePaul from.

“The drop we have seen in traditional students is due largely to decreased enrollment at community colleges, which are the primary source of transfer students,” Boeckenstedt said. “Enrollment at some local community colleges in transfer programs has fallen by as much as 15 percent in recent years, and that sends a ripple through our enrollments.”

Diversity has been a major talking point for DePaul administrators throughout the years. DePaul works with Chicago Public Schools and other community organizations to try and expand knowledge of the opportunities they offer, as well as utilizing the ACT and College Board to contact students of color across the country to try and promote a more diverse university.

“We dedicate substantial economic resources to institutional financial aid for low-income, first-generation students, who bring economic diversity even if they come from majority populations,” Boeckenstedt said.

Overall, the total students of color have been gradually increasing over the years, with 8,544 students enrolled in 2017 and a record-breaking 8,710 students of color enrolled in 2018. Students of color at DePaul account for 39 percent of the university’s total enrollment, 41 percent of undergraduate enrollment, 35 percent of graduate enrollment and 30 percent of law enrollment.

The university tackles diversity in a number of other ways as well. 42 percent of students are 24 years or older, 53 percent of students are female and six percent of those enrolled across the university are international students.

“Diversity is necessary for every higher education institute,” said junior Emily Gonzalez. “I’m happy to be at a university that works so hard to keep minorities in mind.”