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  • Writer's pictureKAIT BEDELL

Applications, visits on rise despite low enrollment

As enrollment numbers decrease following the pandemic, application numbers have increased. The Admissions Office has begun implementing several strategies in hopes of re-boosting enrollment numbers.

According to the school’s website, undergraduate enrollment was 1,629 students in 2020. In the two following years as the pandemic hit, enrollment fell to 1,294 students in 2021 and 1,236 students in 2022.

Dean of Enrollment Chris Gray said the pandemic had to do with the decrease in the number of students attending Lasell beginning in 2021.

Gray said students made the decision to attend university online at other institutions or they did not attend college at all due to the uncertainty at the time. “You know, during the heat of the pandemic, there’s a lot of unknowns, a lot of safety concerns, and students didn’t know what their college experience would be like,” Gray said.

Gray also said it gave the university new opportunities they never would have had before.

“...Obviously it impacted [our] enrollment, but it also helped accelerate a lot of our forward thinking,” Gray said.

Despite the fact the pandemic caused a lot of students to make alternate decisions regarding being on campus at Lasell, Gray said it also strengthened what the university had to offer prospective students moving forward.

Since the start of the pandemic, the university had implemented an entirely online bachelor’s completion program with five majors.

“It’s helped us attract new students or different students in that manner but at the same time address what I would call community needs...” Gray said.

Prospective students sit in the School of Buisness presentation at this year’s Fall Open House Oct. 23. Photo by Madigan Avery

Along with the pandemic, Gray said part of the enrollment decline can be attributed to lower birth rates.

Gray said when the recession hit in 2008, not as many children were being born, meaning there will be overall less students attending college.

Since fewer people were having children during their financial struggles at that time, Gray said the class sizes from 2026 and the years following are all projected to be smaller.

Although enrollment is significantly down in the last two years, Gray said the university is acting proactively to try and bring in more students.

In addition to the implementation of a fully online bachelor’s program, the university has also decided to lower tuition to more accurately portray what students typically pay to actually attend.

According to Gray, 60% of students and families will exclude a college or university in their search process solely based on the posted price.

In reducing prices to more accurately represent what students will actually pay at Lasell, Gray said the university has already seen early indicators that enrollment is back on the incline.

Gray said for the whole month of October, Lasell was up 50% on daily campus visits and applications are up by 45%.

Students from the School of Communication share their experiences with incoming first-years at Fall Open House. Photo by Mike Maruk

Despite the enrollment number decreasing over the last two years, Gray said he, along with other community members, are “confident” in Lasell’s strategic planning.

“In terms of enrollment, super positive and I’m excited about all these changes happening in our future,” Gray said. “But the reason why I’m confident is that we’ve continuously and consistently addressed, planned, and implemented these changes to be successful.”

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