University of Akron enrollment drops again, but new student numbers show promise
The University of Akron's enrollment is now half of what it was 11 years ago.
In the fall of 2011, the university had more than 30,000 students. This year saw another consecutive year of enrollment drop, falling just below 15,000 students, including undergraduate, graduate and the law school.
Overall enrollment fell 7.4% to 14,991, down from 16,193 last fall.
But university officials say they are seeing signs of stabilization after years of decline. Overall new student enrollment, for example, is only down about 125 students.
Stephen McKellips, vice provost for enrollment management, said that along with an increase in application pools and more international students trying to come to Akron — although at least 40 were unable to secure a visa in time to come — show the trends returning to a sense of normalcy. The Honors College also has its largest incoming class in five years.
"That attraction is coming back, that mobility is coming back, that interest is coming back," McKellips said. "So that's what we're most excited about going into the next year, is we feel like we're kind of through the worst of it."
In the last few years, the university has seen enrollment drops ranging from 6-9%. With much larger classes even just four and five years ago, McKellips said as those classes graduate and enrollment of freshmen can't keep up, causing the drop.
"Fundamentally, this is about where we thought we would be because of that," he said. "Our greatest successes were right where we wanted them to be, which was to try to turn the tide on the new students coming in Fall '22. And we feel really good about the fact that we came within an eyelash of being able to do that."
Kent State University also saw an enrollment drop this year, but a smaller one: 2.2% on the main campus and 4.5% systemwide.
Reversing Akron's falling enrollment trend has been a key task of President Gary Miller, who is about to begin his fourth year as president. Miller has told faculty that building back enrollment is a job of everyone on campus, whether they teach and can help retain students or are just friendly to those visiting campus.
The pandemic punched a hole in enrollment totals across higher education, particularly around universities' ability to predict their next year's totals, which dictate the budget.
"But now we're kind of falling back into some normalcy where this is a little more like how these patterns flow," McKellips said. "And so as a result, we feel like we're kind of moving past some of that unpredictability that we've experienced in the cycles before."
2022 University of Akron enrollment:
Law school: 445
Total enrollment trends:
Fall 2019: 19,217
Fall 2020: 17,829
Fall 2021: 16,193
Fall 2022: 14,991
Contact education reporter Jennifer Pignolet at firstname.lastname@example.org, at 330-996-3216 or on Twitter @JenPignolet.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: University of Akron enrollment drops, but new student numbers promising