SIUE’s enrollment staff is dealing with a problem that many colleges around the country are trying to address— keeping admissions numbers up during the COVID-19 pandemic.
International students face a unique problem during this pandemic. Director of Graduate and International Admissions Jim Monahan said one of the biggest challenges for these students has been obtaining visas.
“What we are seeing is definitely a drop in new students, and it’s definitely because of the pandemic. [International students] have been unable to get visas at U.S. embassies, because across the world, those embassies are closed,” Monahan said. “Those embassies are starting to reopen, but now it’s too late for those students to go through this process. So, a lot of international students have had to be deferred to next future semesters.”
Although international students can still take classes online, there is still a risk there, according to Monahan.
“If there is no visa, they can’t physically come here, and it’s hard to get a whole degree online … [and] there’s a risk there. Depending on where they are living, international students can’t really do synchronous classes,” Monahan said. “It’s hard to work around time zones.”
Director of Undergraduate Admissions Todd Burrell said international enrollment may have been difficult to retain during the pandemic, but undergraduate and transfer enrollment haven’t faltered too much.
“The pandemic has hit us a little bit, but our transfer population is still on track with last year’s, and we still get a few students from colleges like [Southwestern Illinois College and Lewis and Clark Community College] where there’s a good number of students who transfer to here,” Burrell said. “As for undergrad, our new student population is doing well. This summer, we saw a two percent increase [compared to last summer], and it was very nice, and … hopefully that will trickle over to the next semesters.”
However, Burrell said there have still been some minor problems, but admissions is working to remedy them.
“We did our pay drop, where we drop students who haven’t paid, and that usually drops some kids, and it did. We hope to be on target [with the average], but it might be a bit of a decrease. People still have a few days to get back into the system after it drops them,” Burrell said. “The application deadline was August 5, but we still check people on a case-by-case basis. And we will obviously have a better idea later, but right now, we kind know what we’re on track with.”
Chancellor Randy Pembrook said, regardless of a possible decline in enrollment, the admissions staff has done all they can to keep SIUE on track.
“Our enrollment management team has worked hard all year regarding recruiting and retention for Fall 2020. In spite of challenges relating to the COVID pandemic, we saw positive numbers for summer enrollment, and are [still] optimistic about our fall enrollment,” Pembrook said.
Exact head counts have yet to be released for the Fall 2020 semester. Since 2015, enrollment rates for both first-time freshmen and transfer students have been declining at SIUE. From 2018 to 2019, enrollment for first-time freshmen dropped two percent, and enrollment for transfer students dropped five percent.
For more information, check the SIUE admissions website.