Undergraduate enrollment outcomes for the fall 2012 incoming classes are…in a word…mixed. For the past several years, we have successfully enrolled freshman classes between 1,600 and 1,650. Our target class size was the same this year, but all indications point to a class that will arrive short of that range. After our projected summer melt, the 1682 deposits that we received should settle around 1,550 when the official number is tallied on October 1.
In and of itself, this shortfall might not cause significant concern. However, this outcome arrives with a discount rate that is higher than our historic average, reflecting the debt sensitivity in the marketplace and increasing discount rates among competing colleges and universities. The combined impact of a small incoming class and elevated discount rate is less net tuition revenue for the College.
In the weeks ahead, we are taking every measure to help reduce summer melt, from furthering conversations about financial aid to coordinating our summertime communications. We ask that you help in that endeavor in ways that intersect with your department or division.
While the size of this year’s class did not meet our expectations, it is not fair to suggest that this year’s freshman class was a disappointment. The class builds on our recent momentum to arrive as the most diverse class in the College’s history. Approximately 20% of this year’s freshman class will come from underrepresented ALANA backgrounds, a two percentage point gain over the previous year and five percent gain over the year prior. Furthermore, this year’s incoming freshman class will arrive with impressive academic credentials. Those who believe that average SAT score represents a good proxy for academic quality will be pleased to know that our average SAT score improved by 11 points to 1175. Meanwhile, average class rank (for those from high schools that report a class rank) has been maintained at 21%.
Moving forward, we are conducting extensive survey, behavioral, and environmental research to fully understand and contextualize our enrollment outcomes this year. We want to know what we can do to improve our enrollment outcomes. We also recognize, though, that we will need to adjust our future revenue expectations to reflect the changing environment. We will have a clearer picture of the near term and long term budget impact of the enrollment shortfall and changing competitive environment at this fall’s All College Meeting.