‘Students are just choosing not to go to college at all’: K-State’s enrollment rates see half-decade of decline

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In the last few years, K-State saw an average of a seven percent drop in overall credit hours. (Photo by Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)

Enrollment rates are down at Kansas State — and it isn’t because of the pandemic.

“Students are just choosing not to go to college at all,” vice provost for enrollment management, Karen Goos, said.

In the last few years, K-State saw an average of a seven percent drop in overall credit hours. Goos believes the university will see a decline in overall enrollment during the next 2-3 years, regardless of the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, what we are seeing is a lower college-going rate, particularly in Kansas. The number of students who are choosing to go to a college at all has actually declined over the last few years,” Goos said. “It is not that they are necessarily choosing to go to a community college versus going to a four year — students are just choosing not to go to college at all.”

Goos said her and her colleagues are hoping to turn enrollment rates around by emphasizing the benefits of higher education.

Though COVID-19 isn’t necessarily affecting enrollment, it is making an impact on recruitment. Recruiters are having to adapt to the pandemic by coming up with ways to provide tours and visits to future students.

“We have shifted our in-person business model, having 2 visits a day on various days, as well as online visits,” Goos said.

Though recruiting new students is important, Goos said she understands that incoming students may be worried about what their life would look like and whether they will get the full experience at K-State.

“Students want that college experience, they want to go to the football games, basketball games, they want to be involved in student life and Greek life, as well as everything that goes along with being a student,” Goos said.

To encourage students to enroll at K-State, Goos furnished a strategic enrollment plan that prioritizes digital programs such as digital marketing, communications and online media resources.

“Our priority and focus is the student experience, it’s one of the things I absolutely love about K-State,” Goos said. “… the commitment to the student experience and student success and that is a fabric of the values across everyone at K-State. I would tell you that is a very special and unique quality that we have here.”

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