University discusses projections, future plans after releasing spring enrollment numbers

Mary Parker is the vice president for enrollment management at Kent State University. 

Mary Parker is the vice president for enrollment management at Kent State University. 

Kaitlyn Finchler Reporter

Spring 2021 enrollment numbers were originally projected to be 10 percent down from Spring 2020 for the main campus, but enrollment only dropped by 3.3 percent. 

Vice President of Enrollment Mary Parker is in charge of the university’s enrollment and recruitment tactics. Parker and her team of cabinet members and other university officials had multiple factors to look at when projecting the numbers from 2019 to 2020 enrollment.

Something that was slightly surprising to Parker and her team was the increase in international student enrollment. Parker accredits this to their nonstop calling to global universities and furthering their connections. 

“Where we were really, I think pleasantly surprised is international transfers,” Parker said. “We’ve seen across the country [a] downturn in international students being not able to get visas and stuff. This is the first semester in the last three years, we’ve seen some positive numbers with our international transfer students. So [we’re] very excited about that.”

Even though the enrollment numbers are better than what Parker and her team anticipated, they are looking to further their efforts with increasing enrollment, and keeping students currently enrolled.

“We’re always thinking about different ways we can recruit,” Parker said. “We have to think about different ways to do that. We’re seeing great benefits with that, we’re up in applications and admins for the fall semester and our students are responding to the various new things we’re doing.” 

One thing Parker and her team were interested in was understanding the concerns of families with currently enrolled students. They called as many families as they could to ask them how they could help and one common concern mentioned was affordability.

“There was a lot of personal conversation going on… Even our cabinet members were calling because we wanted to make sure that our focus was to let students know we’re going to do everything possible to give them a great experience,” Parker said.

In addition to the calls and surveys, Parker and her team looked at how students benefited from the CARES emergency grant fund. The grant was created for students to apply on Flashline for additional funds. The CARES grant can be used to help students cover university related expenses and it can be put towards things in their personal lives such as rent, car issues, emergencies, etc. 

“Thousands and thousands of students were able to be served through this pot and will continue to be served with the new money that we received,” Parker said.

The university also got approved for an additional $9 million to put towards the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund which helps fund the CARES grants.

“We just received some additional money from the federal government, through the CARES funding where we’re going to be able to support additional students, so we’re really hoping that it’s going to continue to help,” Parker said.

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