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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Top Stories > Education

SUNY Sullivan enrollment doing better than most

Oct 1, 2020

By Joseph Abraham - co-editor

By: Patricio Robayo | Democrat
A scene from the last SUNY Sullivan in-person graduation in May 2019. Their current enrollment is better than many of their peers.
LOCH SHELDRAKE -- While many colleges are seeing dips in their enrollment during the pandemic, that currently isn't the case at SUNY Sullivan.
Enrollment numbers are always in flux as the college admits students on a rolling basis. So things change day to day. For example, at last week's board of trustees' meeting, their fall enrollment was up 2.2 percent from that time last year. However, at County Legislature's Government Services Committee yesterday, SUNY Sullivan President Jay Quaintance noted that enrollment was flat over last year.

Still, their enrollment is faring better than many of their peers.
“Every other college that I have heard from or spoken with is down at this point,” Quaintance said at last week's board of trustees' meeting. He added that's not to say they might not end up down once three-week no-show data comes in. A “no-show” is a student who doesn't attend a single class in a term.
“We don't know for sure where that's going to land,” said Quaintance. “We're processing that right now. But we also do not have our high school enrollment [data] in yet. And I am of the mindset that whatever losses we see from the three-week no- shows is going to be more than made up for -- or at least made up for -- in what we expect to be an increase in our high school enrollment.”
Quaintance added that the college's late-start program is also mitigating anticipated losses from three-week no- shows. The late-start program went from approximately 59 students last year to 159 students as of last week.
The college's enrollment numbers are currently strongest in the areas of returning, transfer and readmitted students. The biggest decline is in the number of new students, which according to Quaintance is reflected across the SUNY system. He also noted that the college's decision to not reopen student housing this fall hasn't provided the huge hit to their enrollment that it could have.
When the college was preparing their budget this past summer, they explored 18 different scenarios due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.
In terms of enrollment, the projected scenario they had settled on was a five percent decline. When the Sullivan County Democrat interviewed Quaintance in early September, during the first week of classes, he noted that SUNY Sullivan was beating those projections, as they were only down two percent at the time.
And the numbers have continued to move in a positive trend.
One reason for their enrollment numbers being better than several colleges across the state, according to Quaintance, is that SUNY Sullivan saw enrollment growth in 2019-20, while many others experienced declines. And SUNY Sullivan has been successful in retaining those students.
Another is reflected in the success of the late-start program, as many students pushed back the timeline in which they made a college decision.
“Community college students typically decide pretty late,” explained Quaintance. “We get a big enrollment surge in the last two weeks before school starts. But I think, just as we did in making a decision to not open the dorms, people were looking around the state and country and seeing on the news what was happening, that even schools that tried to more or less fully open, were now having to shut back down. And so I think there was a fair number of people who were saying, ‘I'm just going to hold off and see where things go.' And by us having this late start session, it allowed them to make a decision later than they would have otherwise. And we're hopeful that's going to continue, that we'll see those people stay enrolled and see the semester through.”

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