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SF State increases student outreach amid enrollment decline
Senior Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Katie Lynch urges campus community to call prospective students and assist them in their enrollment process
May 17, 2022
Senior Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Katie Lynch serves on the front line of increasing student enrollment for SF State.
SF State’s Associate Provost of Institutional Analytics Sutee Sujitparapitaya, received an email from Lynch on April 5, encouraging faculty, students and alumni to help SF State recruit new students through phone calls.
According to Sujitparaitaya, the goal is to help potential students navigate through any barriers that might hinder them from enrolling.
“We reach out to students for student enrollment services,” Sujitparapitaya said. “That’s why we volunteer to call and reach out to students to let them know that we are strategic communicators that will help diminish the gap and provide information to help them with issues prohibiting them from enrolling.”
From Fall 2019 to Fall 2021, SF State’s new student enrollment decreased by 31% and Lynch predicts that next semester’s transfer student enrollment will decrease, which makes up the majority of the student body.
Lynch said that transfer student enrollment rates are tracking below last year.
“We’re seeing an increase in first time freshmen that have accepted their admissions offer and we’re seeing a decrease in transfers that have accepted their admissions offer,” Lynch said. “The transfer populations from our major feeding transfer institutions have declined over the past couple of years so there’s fewer students at the community colleges to transfer to us.”
They have reached over 6,100 prospective students with the help of cold calls, faculty, alumni and retirees.
Krystalyn Green, a junior at SF State, was shocked that the university is calling students for enrollment.
“I don’t remember speaking to SF State alumni,” Green said. “Most of my interactions with alumni were cut very short so I believe [alumni] should get a chance to talk to current students about school.”
Green said that if students had more opportunities to speak to alumni, students could get a better perspective on how to navigate college life.
“If an alumni can sit down with a new student and be real about the school’s values and academic culture, it could help that new student feel much better,” Green said. “They need to know what they are getting themselves into so I think the phone calls are a good idea.”
At first, Lynch said that they planned to continue calling students until May 1, the decision date to accept admission offers. But she later chose to extend the admissions deadline to June 1, as a way of adhering to student needs.
“We’re giving students additional time to accept their admission offer,” Lynch said. “We’re complementing that with things like visits to our local community colleges so we can be there in person for them to accept their admissions and offer answers to any questions they may have.”
Lynch said that this method of undergraduate recruitment is used as an effort to meet students and families where they’re at instead of relying on them to reach out.
Prior to this implementation, SF State President Lynn Mahoney sent out a school-wide message inviting members of the campus community to attend a series of meetings on behalf of the university’s Strategic Planning Committee, for which she serves as chair.
From Feb. 2 to March 3, members of the SF State community along with the Strategic Planning Committee met and voiced their opinions on the panning efforts that will inform the the university’s priorities for the coming five to 10 years. These sessions consisted of in-depth and interactive three-hour workshops and 90-minute focus group sessions.
“We embarked on a strategic planning process that will carry through early summer 2022,” Mahoney said in a message.
Updated data involving SF State’s students and faculty were revealed at the event.
Jamillah Moore, SF State’s vice president for student affairs & enrollment management, thinks that this issue will have a long-lasting impact.
“I think that this is just going to have a long-lasting impact on not just SF State but higher education in general,” Moore said. “It’s really what’s happening as a result of the pandemic nationwide.”
In addition, Lynch believes that the decline has a direct correlation with the decline in California high school graduation rates as well as adults choosing not to go to college after graduation.
“Generally speaking, there’s fewer college-going age students in our most immediate areas,” Lynch said. “So a demographic shift has resulted in fewer students going to college, as well as declining enrollment in many of our feeding community colleges.”
From Fall 2019 to Fall 2020, undergraduate enrollment rates have decreased by 7.5%. In addition, from Fall 2020 to Fall 2021, undergraduate enrollment rates have decreased by 5.3%, showing approximately a 2.2% improvement.
Lynch thinks that community college rates within SF State’s area could also attribute to our declining enrollment rates.
“Over half of our students each year have traditionally been transfer students, as our community college partners have seen declines in enrollment,” Lynch said. “I think that’s also translated to us seeing a decline in transfer student enrollment in particular.”
But as enrollment declines, so does the CSU’s budget.
This data is based on estimates, not final amounts that are connected to financial statements.
According to data from SF State’s Strategic Planning Committee, SF State’s enrollment rates are down approximately 10%.
As for the state allocation through the CSU, it has gone down 5% and is continuing to do so.
SF State did not obtain its first target for funding and had a base funding reduction of $16.9 million. The next target for funding had a base funding reduction of $20.3 million, and the third wasn’t met, causing the university a base funding reduction of $26.3 million.
The latest target for funding was not met as well and SF State experienced the greatest recorded base funding reduction, approximately $35.6 million. These budget cuts are in relation to the decline in enrollment rates.