Enrollment can increase by encouraging students to start at NIU

By Jack Baudoin

Going away to college is something a lot of people dream of. Every year, students around the world apply to and enroll at different universities. Despite this, NIU’s enrollment is dropping every year. If the university hopes to break this trend, it needs to improve the way that it shows prospective students why starting at NIU is a great decision.

NIU had its lowest fall enrollment in 50 years last semester with 16,609 total students at the school. The difference between fall 2018 and fall 2019 was 600 students according to enrollment data. This is the lowest number of people at the school since 1966 when enrollment was at 16,440 students.

Even though NIU has frozen its tuition for the past six years, which one would think would inspire more students to enroll, the number of students continues going down.

The 10-day count of enrollment for spring 2020 was 15,419 students, a drop of 2.1% from the spring of 2019. Total enrollment is down 1,190 students from the fall semester, a drop of 7.2%.

The decline in enrollment is not something just happening at NIU but at colleges all over Illinois.

Enrollment has dropped at Illinois schools from 930,000 in 2010 to 768,000 in 2017, according to a Sept. 13 Chicago Tribune article.

There are many possible reasons this is happening, one being new college students deciding to spend a couple years at local community colleges to save money before transfering to a four-year university.

A great way to encourage enrollment is the Huskie Pledge, which will be implemented in the fall 2020 semester. This program will allow eligible students free tuition and fees their first year.

Another strategy that can increase enrollment is the new test-blind admission policy that will start in the fall 2021 semester. If students aren’t required to submit SAT or ACT test scores, they might be more willing to apply to NIU.

Thanks to these programs, prospective students can apply to NIU and enroll as a first-year without worrying about cost or eligibility. They can be a part of the NIU community for their entire college experience instead of transferring and having to find that community a couple years in.

Also, students will have a better idea of how school work is done at NIU, and they will not have to adapt to a new style of learning after going to community college. In addition to this, NIU could offer certain opportunities to students who start as first-years, such as discounts on books or meal plans.

NIU is a great place for students to learn, and helpful admission policies can attract students to the school and prove it is best to start here right away.

After three attempts to conduct an interview, the university admissions department was unable to be reached for comment.