Enrollment numbers sink for Le Moyne, colleges nationwide


Aubrey Zych, Co-News & Features Editor


Over the last three years, each consecutive group of Le Moyne freshmen were proudly able to title themselves as Le Moyne’s largest incoming class ever… until this year. For the first time in 15 years, enrollment in colleges nationwide is dropping, and Le Moyne is no exception.

Freshmen enrollment at Le Moyne has been at 619 in 2009, 626 in 2010 and 646 in 2011. Yet, in the fall of 2012, only 524 freshmen enrolled. Le Moyne is one of the hundreds of colleges in the United States that is experiencing a drop in enrollment numbers. According to Time Magazine, over 40 percent of private colleges reported lower numbers in the fall of 2011, a trend that has carried over into 2012. Data from the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics shows there were 21,554,004 American college students in 2011, dropping down from 21,588,124 the year before, resulting in a 0.2 percent decrease nationwide. And while the decline may seem minute, it is the first drop since 1996.

When the economy crashed in 2008, many laid-off workers went back to school to acquire new skills in hopes of finding a new job. As the job market is making a rebound, fewer workers are finding the value in a higher education, resulting in fewer numbers, Joanne Jacobs at the Huffington Post reported last October.

Dennis Nicholson, dean of admission at Le Moyne explained that Le Moyne has not been immune to the suffering economy that is impacting colleges nationwide.

“We have faced extremely challenging times with the economy, and that impacts the number of students able to afford a private education,” said Nicholson. “The volatile job market has also impacted some of our historically largest academic programs where jobs are far less prevalent than previous years.”

Likewise, Nicholson added that the decreasing number of incoming freshmen this year at Le Moyne in particular likely comes from the decline in high school seniors across New York state.

“Our nation is experiencing a decline in the number of high school seniors and that trend continues through 2015,” he explained. “Le Moyne relies heavily on the New York state demographic and therefore it is an especially difficult task to achieve record breaking enrollments for the next several years.”

In light of the decline, Nicholson and the office of admissions have bumped up their efforts to recruit more students through increasing high school visits by more than 300 visits this year and purchasing a new client relationship management product to more effectively communicate with prospective students and parents.

“The Office of Admission has reacted swiftly and strategically,” Nicholson said. “We spent the past several months planning and executing a data driven model to identify and visit more high schools while also expanding our reach.”

Through their increased efforts and new strategic plans, Nicholson says the admissions office fully expects an enrollment comeback for the fall of 2013.

“Although many institutions will continue experiencing lower incoming classes, we fully expect to return to the record numbers experienced from 2009 to 2011,” he said. “Our current applicant pool is in line with numbers experienced in our previous record-breaking classes.”