Enrollment at TU Drops Below Average

by Ashley Miller
Staff

A student body of 1,092 began the 2009 fall semester at Transylvania University, reports Director of Admissions Brad Goan. According to Goan, this number is lower than last year’s enrollment of 1,158 and even lower than enrollment numbers from the previous seven years.

Goan offers three reasons for the lower enrollment.

“We had to replace a large graduating class with a relatively small incoming class,” Goan said. “Additionally we had a slightly lower retention rate.”

For the 2009-2010 academic year, out of the 1,423 students who applied to Transylvania, 1,145 were accepted and 297 enrolled.Last year’s enrollment of 1,158 was a record high for the university, while the average student population from the past five years has been 1,138. However, Goan believes there is hope for next year. The graduating class of 2010 is smaller than last year’s, meaning there will not be quite as many spots to fill. And Goan reports that the retention rate for all the classes currently attending is very high.

Out of the 1,423 high school students who applied to Transy last year, Goan reported that 1,145 were sent acceptance letters. Yet only 297 of those chose to come to Transylvania, meaning 848 declined and chose to go elsewhere. The number of students that choose to come is referred to as the “yield rate,” which has dropped from 30 percent to 26 percent. Goan believes this drop could be attributed to the infamous economic recession.

The price tag of a Transy education, while less than many other well-ranked private schools, is significantly higher than that of the state universities in Kentucky, such as the University of Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University and Western Kentucky University, as well as of the community colleges. Transy’s current tuition for one year is $25,280 plus $7,770 for room and board. Goan says this amount can seem rather daunting to families who face potential job loss, salary cuts and benefit loss.

Goan said that more families are less willing to take the financial risk. Many people can pay for Transy when their son or daughter is accepted, but are unsure if they will be able to make the same claim six months or a year from then.

In a small survey at Lexington’s Tates Creek High School, financial burden appeared to play a role in where current high school seniors are planning to attend college next year. Twenty-eight out of 31 students reported that they were likely going to attend a public university the following year. Of the total 31 students surveyed, 19 percent are considering applying to Transy; of those students, 50 percent cited academic reputation as a factor in their decision. Of the 70 percent not considering Transy, only 29 percent were not interested because they thought Transy’s tuition was too expensive. Most students cited a combination of reasons: the school did not offer a specific major, there was not scholarship money for baseball or they simply were not interested. Forty-five percent said tuition was a significant factor, 45 percent said it was not, and 10 percent were unsure. When asked to rank the importance of financial considerations, 25 out of 31 circled three or higher, with five being of the highest importance.

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