Fairmont State University has reported an overall increase in enrollment rates, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The University submitted official file submissions for the Early Fall 2020 term to the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission on October 15.
“The pandemic required change, and our recruiting and admissions teams stepped up to the challenge,” said Joy Hatch, Vice President for Information Technology and Enrollment Management. “Processes were adjusted to better meet demand, student interactions increased significantly, and data were widely shared. Everyone recognized the imperative for students to access postsecondary education and responded – deans and coaches and so many others made phone calls to students, advisors met individually with new students, and there were more than 250,000 interactions with our students.”
More than 1,300 additional students enrolled at Fairmont State for Fall 2020. Compared to early Fall 2019 data, out-of-state enrollment grew by 2%, with 120 students taking advantage of the newly introduced Metro tuition rate, and first-time freshman posted enrollment gains of 3%. The number of students enrolled in graduate programs outpaced early Fall 2019 enrollment approximately 15%, and the number of high school students engaged in dual enrollment course offerings topped last Fall’s figures by over 50%. The University is also retaining more students, with almost 70% of full-time first-time freshman enrolled in Fall 2019 continuing their education through Fall 2020, an improvement of over 6 percentage points over previous year retention rates.
Growth in dual enrollment in 2020 has allowed 240 students to access postsecondary education early on in their academic pursuits, with most taking two courses this semester. The dual enrollment population is regionally-centered, primarily consisting of students from Marion and Harrison Counties, with a small segment residing in Doddridge County. Students registered for mostly English and mathematics courses, and additional popular course selections included Spanish, chemistry and psychology. Almost one 1 out of 4 students who enrolled in a dual enrollment course during the 2017-2018 academic year subsequently matriculated to Fairmont State during the 2018-2019 academic year.
Among several metrics, the University’s overall enrollment growth benefitted from 49.7% admissions yield rate, compared to 34% from Fall 2019. Targeted areas of growth have also increased as a result of recruiter outreach, communications from the Executive Leadership Team and Deans and personalized advising approaches, along with an overarching individualized focus on students and their families.
“The tireless work of our Recruitment team, the Admissions team, the Marketing team, and the support of many staff, faculty, students, and the Executive Leadership team, have yielded extraordinary results,” said Mirta M. Martin, President of Fairmont State University. “We may be one of only a few institutions posting an increase in enrollment this year. I am very proud of our Falcon family.”
Preliminary Fall enrollment data available from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released late last month show that Fairmont State University is outperforming national enrollment trends. While postsecondary enrollment was down by 3% nationwide, with four-year public institutions experiencing an average enrollment decline of 1.4%, Fairmont State’s Fall 2020 enrollment has remained positive, growing approximately 1.2% compared to roughly the same point in time during the Fall 2019 semester. In particular, enrollment in Fairmont State’s graduate program is almost 10 percentage points higher than the 4.7% average growth experienced by public four-year graduate programs across the country.
“Look across the board – we significantly increased our yield, retention, and dual enrollment rates, as well as our overall enrollment” Martin said. “That’s impressive under any set of circumstances but doing so during a historic global crisis is exceptional. And this was only made possible by the extraordinary efforts of the entire Falcon Family. Whether recruiting a prospective student or retaining a current student, we approached each student – and their families – with our trademark high touch, caring attitude. Students and families trust us with their educations because they know we truly care, and they know we provide a transformative educational experience. And with so much uncertainty in our daily lives, knowing there is a stable and caring educational path to success is more important than ever.”
The Fall 2021 application process began on October 1. More than 600 students are already enrolled in courses for the 2021-2022 academic year. All data reported is considered preliminary until verified by the WVHEPC.