Arts, Communication and Information undergraduate programs see decrease in spring enrollment

CCI Dean Amy Reynolds (left), CCI Student Recruitment Specialist Debra Lamm (top right) and CCI Assistant Dean Matt Rollyson (bottom right).

Kaitlyn Finchler Reporter

The effects of COVID-19 have led some students to take a semester off and some have considered other options, overall leading some programs to see a decrease in enrollment. 

The College of Communication and Information was one program which saw a 13 percent decrease in enrollment from spring 2020 to spring 2021. CCI Dean Amy Reynolds said this is due to numerous things.

“I think some of what you see in spring is a reflection of a smaller entering class in the fall,” Reynolds said. “We’ve had some feedback from students that they have wanted more in person [classes], and a lot of our programs with maybe the notable exception of digital media production and VCD, there were a lot more sort of mixed hybrid courses. A lot of our classes went fully online.”

CCI received a lot of feedback on different formats of classes, Reynolds said.

“We have heard anecdotally that some of our entering students really were struggling with the online format, that they didn’t love it, they felt disconnected from the campus,” Reynolds said. 

Reynolds said students graduating and renaming the school and some majors affected the identity of CCI as well. 

“We’ve done a pivot in our School of Digital Sciences, which was renamed to the School of Emerging Media and Technology, and because that school name change happened last year we didn’t get a chance to get ahead to sort of promote it,” Reynolds said. “So their numbers have kind of dropped off too.” 

CCI Assistant Dean Matt Rollyson said more of the students who chose to take time off were students who were already enrolled. 

“What I am seeing in the numbers is students who had started here before the pandemic and were in their second year opted to take a break or leave,” Rollyson said. “They were more or less likely to continue with us into their third year. That’s about the only difference that I’ve seen so far, is that first-year students have no real change in their persistence.” 

The College of the Arts also saw a decrease in enrollment, with the pandemic limiting the in-person structure of arts and theater. 

College of the Arts Assistant Dean of Recruitment and Retention LeAnn Starlin said the college has been limited to performances and projects. 

“We haven’t had gallery openings and chances together there and we haven’t had theaters full of students come into shows,” Starlin said. “Our students are working on performances, their pieces have been streamed live, but it’s a lot different than getting to perform in person when that’s what you train for. “ 

Starlin said communication will be a driving force when welcoming students back in-person in the fall. 

“There’s some pieces like definitely enhanced communication, just in terms of helping students know what [their] options are for services on campus,” Starlin said. “I just feel like we’re going to have to really help communicate support and options and help people feel connected back to their major again.” 

Keeping in touch with students is something both colleges agree on, and they hope their efforts enforce the support they’re trying to give.  

“We want to provide information for [incoming students], make the connections for them and explain to them the value that our programs can add to them and their career choices,” CCI Student Recruitment Specialist Debra Lamm said, “then getting them connected with the proper person in the college to continue that relationship. So our recruitment strategy is communication, outreach and connections.”

Kaitlyn Finchler covers administration and enrollment. Contact her at [email protected]