Overall university enrollment increased despite concerns that students would not return due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The increase in enrollment is due to new online programs, according to Tamara Long, vice president for enrollment. ACU Online added 15 new online undergraduate programs this year and ACU Dallas added several graduate programs.
While overall enrollment increased, the incoming freshman class is significantly smaller than in recent years, with total freshman enrollment at 839 students.
“There’s no doubt that the impact was COVID-19,” Long said. “The number of students who deposited and then said they couldn’t come is significant.”
In addition to the freshman on campus, there are fifteen freshmen taking their classes online this semester. This enables students who were unable to get VISAs into the United States, due to COVID-19 related travel bans, as well as students unable to be in-person due to health concerns to begin classes in preparation to be in-person in the Spring 2021 semester.
As for upperclassmen, retention was higher than expected. Juniors and seniors experienced normal retention rates despite the pandemic, according to Long.
“At one point we thought we might have a freshman class of about 700 and retention in the sixties, but we are over 76% retained of freshman and that is significant,” Long said. “It speaks to people’s desire to be in school as well as the community at ACU and the hard work of advisors and recruiters. It took everyone working together.”
Universities across the nation faced dismal enrollment reports, but ACU’s turnout sparked excitement for the faculty.
“With predictions that 15-20 percent of college-bound students might choose not to enroll due to the pandemic, it’s even more exciting to see our total enrollment continue to climb,” Phil Schubert, president of the university said. “This represents significant effort on the part of faculty and staff who continue to adjust to a rapidly changing environment. I’m thankful and proud.”