After a 36-year high enrollment last fall, Welch College enrollment statistics for the Fall semester 2020 showed an expected decline, according to Provost Matthew McAffee. Total enrollment statistics indicate 356 students from 23 states, one territory, and four foreign countries, an 18 percent decrease over last fall’s headcount.
“The good news is that in one key area, the number of full-time students, we’re down by only 6%,” McAffee said. “Last fall the full-time student enrollment was 233 compared to this year’s 219. Full-time students is a key indicator that colleges monitor closely. We’re thankful for these wonderful students the Lord has brought us this year. Owing to COVID-19, like many colleges, we were braced for a much lower enrollment than we have. So we’re grateful that enrollment is as high as it is. The Lord continues to bless our efforts in equipping leaders for Christ’s kingdom work.”
At press time the college reported 157 dormitory students, 59 commuter students, 23 graduate students, 20 Adult Studies students, 41 Online students, and 56 dual enrollment students. The fall’s full-time equivalency (FTE) is 254 students.
“An unusually high number of out-of-town families changed their plans this year,” Daniel Webster, Director of Enrollment Services, said. “It was either because of the ‘fear factor’ surrounding the Coronavirus—just wanting to keep their children close to home—or because of the economic impact of the virus on their families. This was the year we were expecting to have a 38-year record-high in enrollment. But then COVID-19 hit. Not only did it cause families to change their plans, but it also hampered our ability to recruit last spring and summer.”
“We were surprised, though, that our traditional student enrollment (dorm and commuter students) was down only around 10 percent,” Webster continued. “Just as some other colleges and universities expected, local student enrollment held steady, while dorm student enrollment dropped by about 14 percent. Our adult enrollment—in graduate, evening, and online programs—was hit hard, as well as the number of high school students enrolled in dual enrollment courses. The total headcount in those programs decreased by 28 percent.”
This fall 63 new students enrolled in traditional on-campus programs at Welch—25 percent fewer than last fall. A total of 85 new students joined the entire student body for the new school year, including graduate, online, and adult studies enrollments—27 percent fewer than last fall.
“We’re so thankful for the students God has blessed us with this year,” President Matt Pinson said. “They’re eager to learn and are doing such a wonderful job coping with the strange conditions necessitated by the Coronavirus. But they’re doing a great job abiding by our guidelines, and the number of positive cases and quarantined students has been extremely low when compared to other colleges and universities. While I’m pleasantly surprised that our enrollment is as high as it is, given COVID-19, I still appeal to our alumni and supporters to give to the COVID-19 Relief Fund. We’re having to award very large amounts of scholarships this year to make it possible for many of these students to attend, and we’re projecting the largest year-to-year downturn in tuition and gift income in the college’s history. So we need our people to come to our aid now more than ever.”
“Still,” Pinson continued, “this vibrant student body is a reminder that God is bringing students to Welch whose lives will be changed. We will equip them to fulfill the divine purpose to which God has called them, so they can help bring life change to others through the power of the gospel and its impact on individual lives and on our culture. This is the reason we’re here, and we keenly sense God’s blessing, especially in these difficult times.”