Freshman enrollment down at Abilene universities

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Abilene universities are feeling the impact of the pandemic, with fewer incoming students stepping on campus this year.

“I think there is a lot of uncertainity in our community and our society right now,” said Vice President for Enrollment Management at McMurry University Grant Greenwood. “I think that’s probably panned out in terms of how students are engaging in their college decision.”

McMurry University says its enrollment numbers are down about 6%. That decline could be contributed to the number of incoming freshmen and incoming transfer students.

“I think just with the uncertainty, students aren’t as inclined to make a transfer or make a transition in their college career and are more focused on kind of the immediate concerns,” said Greenwood.

Across town, Abilene Christian University (ACU) is in the same boat.

“Our freshmen number is down from where we would have liked it to be,” said Vice President for Enrollment and Student Life at ACU Tamara Long.

If you look at the numbers overall, ACU is actually reporting record enrollment with just over 5,200 students.

Long attributes that increase to the introduction of new online majors.

“We have invested heavily in the resources to allow our students to study online and learn online, especially in the undergraduate space, so we were already in the process before COVID hit of planning to roll out 15 new undergraduate online programs targeted at adult, non-traditional students,” said Long.

Those same effects are being felt over at Hardin-Simmons University (HSU).

This year, HSU is reporting a total enrollment of just over 2,100 compared to last year, which was around 2,300.

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