Positive Early Indicators for Fall 2015 Freshman Enrollment

With the start of fall quarter still a few months away, it’s too early to know precisely how enrollment will look in September. Early indications, however, provide optimism for a strong freshman class at DePaul.

The class is on pace for 2,505 students, about 30 more than the university’s budgeted goal. In addition to meeting the desired headcount, the academic and diversity profile of the class appears to be on target, according to Jon Boeckenstedt, associate vice president of Enrollment Management and Marketing (EMM).

“The academic profile of the current deposited group is consistent with last year in terms of ACT scores and high school grades,” he says. “The diversity profile appears similar, too. We are seeing a slight increase in African-American and international students, with slight decreases in white, Hispanic and Asian-American students. These small shifts every year are the rule, not the exception.”

Modeling enrollment projections off of early indicators is important from both a budgetary and planning perspective explains Boeckenstedt.

“If we were coming in low on our freshman class, it would be difficult to increase enrollment of that population this late in the enrollment cycle,” he says. “But we still have things we could do to affect transfer enrollment and potentially make up any revenue deficits.

“Coming in above the goal also impacts our academic units. They need to offer the right number of courses, specifically in areas like Discover or Explore Chicago, or WRD (Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse) 103. Having reliable early projections gives them time to schedule and staff appropriately, making sure we deliver the educational experience our incoming freshman are expecting.”

Developing projections several months in advance is complex. EMM partners with Human Capital Research Corporation (HCRC), an Evanston-based firm that specializes in quantitatively based research services for educational institutions, to analyze hundreds of variables.

“We examine a combination of factors, including basics like tuition deposits, housing deposits, orientation registrations and financial aid applications,” says Boeckenstedt. “But we also dig deeper and look at more granular items. Things like gender, ethnicity, geography, income and other demographic characteristics. We’ll examine enrollment history from high schools and a student’s affinity—has the student visited campus before. We also study the impact that financial aid has on the final enrollment decision of our applicants.”

EMM will closely monitor summer melt (the percentage of deposited students who ultimately do not enroll) over the next few months by looking at orientation registration and attendance to make sure it stays consistent with historical precedent and the class remains on track to meet the budgeted goal.

Transfer and graduate enrollment more difficult to project
Projecting transfer and new graduate student numbers for fall is more difficult at this stage in the enrollment cycle because each year, a substantial percentage of applications come in over the late spring and summer.

As of June 1, DePaul has received about 80 percent of transfer and graduate applications and admitted just over 70 percent of the final admit pools. The applicant and admit numbers for both populations will continue to build through the first week of fall classes.

While it is still early, indicators on transfer students are generally positive. Transfer applications are currently up 7 percent over last year at this time, admitted students are up 6 percent and deposits are up 11 percent. All colleges are up or steady in applications, except Music and Theatre, which both have very small transfer populations.

Indicators for new graduate students are mixed. Overall, applications to graduate programs are up by 2 percent over last year while the number admitted to date is down 4 percent. The number of matriculants—those students who have submitted their intent to enroll—is nearly identical to last year at this time.