In the fall of 2012, the freshman class consisted of 400 students. The following year, the class of 2016 dropped down to 319. Now, another year later, that same class is back up to over 400 students.
This fluctuating enrollment has caused some issues, including finding more dormitory space and opening new class sections to make it possible for students to take necessary classes.
Over the summer, Dr. Kim Boyd worked to coordinate schedules while trying to maintain small class sizes.
The admissions office has been working to bring about this rebound, in addition to recruiting additional students every year. Cabrini actually saw a “larger than average” freshman class, according to Shannon Zottola, executive director of admissions.
A bouncing enrollment, however, does present other problems. A big cause is the “declining demographics of graduating high school students. This plays a large role in shifting enrollment,” Zottola said. There is a lot of competition among colleges in the Philadelphia area as well.
Fluctuating enrollment can cause other problems too. Colleges have a hard time planning and budgeting. Students and staff can experience morale issues as well from the added stress caused by losing students and adjusting to new ones.
Some of the factors involved in bringing about the rebound included the admissions team, instituting new practices in the office and reaching enrollment goals through the support of the campus community. Building relationships between prospective students and their families also played a big role.
“By providing them with a welcoming environment when they come to campus, and making them feel valued by the Cabrini community, we have a much better chance at making them see Cabrini as their home for the next four years,” Zottola said. “Marketing, in many modalities, is very important in creating brand awareness, which serves to increase our inquiry pool.”
The fluctuating enrollment, in a small part, is due to transfers and students who came back after leaving. According to Zottola, there are about five to 10 readmits in the fall, while transfer students represent roughly 15 percent of the incoming class.
Certain majors have even seen an increase in recent years while some have not been seeing the same amount as usual. Majors like communication and business administration have seen increases. The communication department has gone from 17 students last year to 57 new freshmen, the biggest in seven years.
Education, which is a popular major at Cabrini, is not seeing the same jump in enrollment as they usually do. Across the four different education majors, secondary education is on the rise while elementary majors have seen a “slight drop.” “There is a current perception that teaching jobs are not available,” Dr. Beverly Bryde, department chair of education, said. “As a result, students are not choosing to major in education.”
Mathematics has also seen their own fluctuations and increases. Department chair of mathematics, Dr. John Brown indicated that the math major can see variations from year to year but is currently at 18 majors across all four years.
“It is very important to continue to follow best practices, focus on relationship building and good customer service and work hard,” Zottola said. “Staying positive and passionate about what we do and why we do it is critical.”