Gannon sees average enrollment numbers


Faith Wilson, Staff Writer

Gannon University has maintained four-year average enrollment figures despite the hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Faculty from many different departments have worked tirelessly to continue creating alternative events and opportunities to bring in more students while still giving them an authentic Gannon experience.

According to William Edmondson, vice president of Enrollment, Gannon had maintained a four-year fall undergraduate average enrollment of 3,224 students and a spring four-year average of 2,962 students before the pandemic.

This academic year had an enrollment of 3,208 students during the fall 2020 semester and an enrollment of 3,035 during the current spring 2021 semester.

To keep these numbers as high as they were, the university as a whole had to work together to make contingency plans.

During this process, there were four budget models made that analyzed the different ways the pandemic may have gone.

Different scenarios included going fully virtual and the loss in revenue for room and board, as well as other scenarios if entirely virtual classes would have to occur for only one semester, both semesters, or just temporarily during another shutdown.

These plans helped to figure out what needed to happen to keep students on campus and enrolled at Gannon.

A part of these plans included changing the way recruitment was done in the past, both to adhere to CDC and Pennsylvania guidelines regarding COVID-19 and to continue to make the experience enjoyable and as close to what it may have been like if campus operations were normal.

The new methods used in the previous recruitment cycle included hosting many online events.

“We set up our recruitment events online, which included making arrangements for department chairs to talk to students via Zoom,” Edmondson said. “We also worked with many people from the engagement office and other faculty and groups that participated in the planning and execution for events, such as open house and admitted students day, all of which had a Zoom presentation given.”

The university was able to adapt and create safer in-person experiences, which allowed the campus to remain open for the fall 2021 recruitment cycle. Students were once again allowed to participate in-person for campus tours and admitted student events.

These events looked slightly different from previous years to help maximize the safety of all parties involved. This included having the students and families stay in their cars when they first arrived to ensure that they could properly social distance, receive a temperature check, and fill out a survey similar to the LiveSafe survey before continuing through the day’s events.

While recruitment has gone smoothly thus far, applications for the fall 2021 semester have decreased and the number of acceptances and deposits has increased.

Research done by Common App has shown that many students are beginning to apply to fewer colleges and universities, so the amount of incoming students for colleges has not decreased; only the number of applications has.

Another adjustment made was waiving the SAT requirement for students who were unable to take the exam due to the shutdown. Gannon admissions used other criteria such as GPA to evaluate the students.

With these changes and taking into account the country’s current state, the incoming class projection was lower than usual, standing at 660 new first-year students for the fall 2021 semester with a total of 3,240 undergraduate students.

To date, there are currently 661 committed students, which meets the previous projection and still meets the four-year undergraduate average enrollment.

Gannon also saw a rise in the number of international students enrolled, despite many consulate offices being closed. The spring 2021 semester saw an increase of between 20-30 students.

The enrollment numbers for international students hit its peak in 2015, with approximately 800 students for the year. The fall 2020 semester had around 400 international students.

Keeping upperclassman students enrolled was another factor Gannon had to consider when going over plans.

Matelyn McAfoos, a sophomore 3+3 sport and exercise pre-physical therapy major, said that she participated in the virtual learning option for both fall 2020 and spring 2021.

“I think that the option for virtual learning increased the potential for the number of students enrolled this past year,” McAfoos said. “Students who are at risk of complications from COVID-19, like me, could still safely continue or begin their journey in higher education despite the pandemic.”

Shae Wilson, a senior healthcare management major, said that she believes Gannon’s decision to remain open positively affected the number of students enrolled.

“As a student, I know that there is more value to an in-person education and if I had to choose between virtual and in-person colleges, I would choose in-person every time,” Wilson said.

The plan for the future is to continue reevaluating as COVID-19 recommendations change.

“We will do everything we can to do face to face,” Edmondson said. “To do open house like back in the day and accepted student days like they have been in the past; hopefully even better than they’ve been in the past.”


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