UH, unaffected by decreased admissions

David Delgado//The Daily Cougar

David Delgado//The Daily Cougar

Good news has just come out for prospective college students: this year will see the smallest group of incoming freshmen in years, which has improved admission odds to a great deal of good schools.

In fact, the incoming class is so small, that in a survey of 381 colleges, 76 percent reported that they were at least moderately concerned about meeting their enrollment goals for new students. Excluded, of course, are the Ivy League and other exclusive colleges, whose standards are expected to remain as stringent as ever as hopefuls continue to clamor for acceptance.

The unusually small class is because of a population dip resulting in a low number of high school seniors, 3.5 percent lower in California alone. This is compounded by the fact that, according to the Los Angeles Times, “Latinos comprise a rising portion of high school graduates, but enroll in college at relatively low rates.”

Less competition, while great news for the already-stressed high school senior, may end in detrimental desperation for colleges struggling to meet enrollment quotas. Public schools in need of funding could see difficulty making ends meet.

Judging by a similar slump in students, which took place in the late ’80s and early ’90s, struggling colleges may soon be forced to discount tuition in a bid for the best of the small pool of students. However, during the last dip, this lost revenue was made up for by an increased bid for international students — who made up almost 10 percent of the UH population last semester — as they rarely qualify for financial aid. Right on cue, John Nelson, an analyst of higher education, claims that there has already been a marketing uptick overseas in light of the current enrollment situation.

As a larger university, UH shouldn’t sustain much damage in the wake of the slump. As a matter of fact, according to Jeff Fuller, director of student recruitment in the UH admissions office, UH “is not experiencing a drop in freshman applications. In fact, our numbers for Fall 2014 are slightly higher than last year’s numbers at this time.”

Great news for the school also means that these new students won’t be afforded any of the breaks afforded to applicants of some of the struggling schools, like tuition discounts and easier application standards. Fuller said that UH “is committed to continuing our path toward enrolling a talented and diverse set of freshmen every year. The University raised standards in Fall 2012 and again for the class that will be entering in Fall 2014.”

Marc Harding, director of admissions at Iowa State, asserts that an ethnically diverse population is the key to a steady and growing enrollment. Just like the melting pot that is the city of Houston, UH has diversity in spades. Perhaps it’s exactly that strong foundation of quality and tolerance that keeps applicants flocking to UH while other colleges are begging students to apply.

On the flip side, though many other colleges may be struggling, students seeking first-rate educations from them, but who may have financial or familial hurdles to overcome, are getting a reprieve.

In an effort to reach untapped sources, many colleges have translated their websites and brochures into Spanish. As a result of such changes, the University of Pennsylvania saw its applications from Hispanic students rise by 30 percent last year.

Colleges are also beginning to work harder to prevent students from dropping out as a result of the dearth of applicants, in a renewed effort to retain those that they have. By offering tutoring, mentoring and counseling, many universities ease the transition into college life, making for happier, better-adjusted and more successful pupils.

UH has the distinct advantage of existing in one of the most major metropolitan areas in the largest state in the country — it will take more than a small dip in the population to negatively affect enrollment in any significant way.

“UH has been able to increase the quality of the freshman class while also achieving our enrollment targets, and we are on track to continue this for Fall 2014,” Fuller said.

Opinion columnist Katie Wian is an English junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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