Editorial: Declining enrollment should keep Eastern on its toes

With the 10 percent decrease in enrollment from last semester, the university should focus on not only recruiting more incoming freshman, but transfer students as well.

Undergraduate enrollment shrank from 8,975 students to 8,114 students, an 861 decrease.

The enrollment decrease has continued from year to year. In Fall 2012, total enrollment decreased by about 760 students.

We understand that spring enrollment is historically less than fall enrollment, but other factors have come into play.

One of the reasons for overall decreases in enrollment can be attributed to shrinking class sizes.

A large class graduates and is replaced by a smaller class.

The university has undergone a campaign to build enrollment back up by recruiting more incoming freshman, but that is a long-term plan that ignores the current shortage of students.

With all of the financial burdens facing Eastern, the university cannot afford to ignore the other undergraduate classes.

Blair Lord, the provost and the vice president for academic affairs, said the university is making some headway in increasing freshman applications, but “We will have to continue to work on transfer numbers, which is not as robust,” according to the article “Student enrollment down 10 percent in Spring 2013” in Monday’s edition of The Daily Eastern News.

More and more students are attending community college, and the university should reach out to those who might be on the fence about transferring to a university after spending a couple of years at community college.

In addition to trying to rope in more transfer students, the university should also look to take advantage of another recruiting tool: current students.

Current students carry a lot of weight with recruiting by suggesting Eastern to siblings and friends.

However, many students are expressing their disinterest in referring students to Eastern in light of certain issues on campus.

During the rallies on Jan. 24 and Jan. 25 promoting university transparency regarding sexual assault and supporting survivors, several students made comments how they would not recommend Eastern to younger sisters or friends.

When students cry out that they are not satisfied with the university’s actions, the university needs to take initiative to reverse the dissatisfaction.

Eastern has a history of maintaining a strong retention rate, but that success is not set in stone. It is imperative to bring new faces to Eastern and repair the downward spiral that is enrollment, but recruiting incoming freshmen is not the only solution.