As nervous freshmen and melancholy parents unloaded packed cars on August 25, Augustana University welcomed the 455 new Vikings of the class of 2022 to campus.
However, that is 26 fewer students than the 481 students that entered the university last year, according to Nancy Davidson, vice president for enrollment.
“Our initial [enrollment] goal as we began the year was 450 and then we increased to 470,” Davidson said. “Four hundred seventy was just a budget goal and a number we wanted to stretch ourselves for that we thought was attainable.”
This is not the only decrease the university experienced.
The freshman class has an average ACT score of 25.51, a slight downturn from last year’s 25.69 and 149 freshmen are Distinguished Scholars, compared to 159 scholars the previous year.
Tuition-driven private universities can suffer from decreases in enrollment, as opposed to state institutions that often have public funding to fall back on.
Augustana’s decrease in enrollment coincides with similar downward trends nationwide.
According to National Student Clearinghouse, a college enrollment research center, private non-profit universities saw a 0.4 percent drop in enrollment for the 2018 spring semester.
Many of these private universities adopt different strategies in an attempt to bolster enrollment.
Schools can introduce new ad campaigns, strengthen their admissions team or carry out a “tuition reset,” where students’ costs are lowered to increase affordability.
The University of Sioux Falls has embraced that approach this year, as they implemented their 2018 tuition reset, decreasing tuition by $10,000.
Augustana University has its own plans to focus on future enrollment.
“We’ve been looking to next year for a long time,” Davidson said. “We have new members of our team, [and] we’re adding a hybrid position in the Twin Cities market. We’re always looking at new opportunities.”
The top majors for freshmen include biology, nursing, business administration, biochemistry
and exercise science, Davidson said.
Many of these majors align with most popular majors recorded nationwide, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The top five majors in the United States are business, health professions and related programs, social sciences and history, psychology, and biological and biomedical sciences.
Eighty-nine Augustana freshmen are student-athletes and 101 are performing/visual artists receiving scholarship.
Thirty-nine international students have also traveled to Augustana for their first year, from 12 different countries.
Davidson also emphasized the Freshman’s top strengths, compiled by the university’s Strengthsquest system: achiever, restorative, learner, input, and relator. “Everyone has strengths,” Davidson said, “and how you utilize them tells you who you are. It creates a really positive way to begin [the school year].”