Six years ago, Keene State College welcomed over 1,000 incoming first-year students. Last year, just under 750 enrolled.

KSC’s first-year admissions have been at a steady decline since 2016, with the numbers plateauing last year. “Declining enrollment is not specific to KSC,” said Peg Richmond, KSC’s director of admissions.

High schools across New England are seeing a decline in their student populations, Richmond said. She said this trend is expected to continue over the next ten years.

“Fewer high school students translates to fewer applications,” Richmond said.

In addition to the number of high school students trending on a decline, college is also getting more expensive. “Offers in the workplace are now competing with colleges,” Richmond explained. Many more students are going right to work after completing high school, due to seeing the opportunity of a somewhat highly paying job.

Richmond, along with MB Lufkin, vice president of enrollment and student engagement, assured that this isn’t something students should worry about.

Lufkin explained, “In the past three years, Keene has shifted focus to recruit more students with promise.” She defined “promising students” as students looking to actually be involved in school activities.

The shift in focus is effective, too. According to Richmond, KSC’s group of 2022 first-year students has the highest average GPA in the school’s history. The proportion of applications received to students who accepted Keene’s offer is also higher than what the school has usually seen.

In this next year, the admissions office is focused on getting more overall applications sent to Keene.

For the first time in three years, “we’re back to operating with 100% unrestricted travel,” said Lufkin. This means representatives for Keene will be able to make it back to more events like college fairs, and one specific event that seems to make all the difference.

New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation (NHHEAF) will host their “I Am College Bound” day in person again this year after doing it virtually for the past couple years due to COVID restrictions. This event gives support to New Hampshire residents applying to in-state schools, along with giving incentives to those who don’t necessarily plan on going to college after high school. Richmond explained that the virtual event was a “flop”; but now that it is back to operating normally, it will hugely benefit Keene.

“In just one day of this event, Keene State received over 800 applications,” Richmond said. Similar numbers are to be expected at this year’s “I Am College Bound” event.

The enrollment data for this year’s first-year students are not available until later this month.

 

Sonny DeFilippo can be contacted at
sdefilippo@kscequinox.com

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