CSUSM enrollment stays at normal levels despite pandemic

While+CSUSM+has+been+mainly+virtual+since+March+2020%2C+enrollment+has+stayed+steady.

Brian Gallegos

While CSUSM has been mainly virtual since March 2020, enrollment has stayed steady.

Anneliese Esparza, Editor-in-Chief

Even while some other universities are facing declining enrollments in the time of COVID-19, CSUSM’s enrollment has remained steady throughout the pandemic. 

According to Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management Services Scott Hagg, CSUSM’s enrollment for the spring semester is over 13,000, a number which exceeds their targeted enrollment of 12,700 students.

CSUSM’s fall 2020 enrollment was similarly promising, as its number of 14,643 students was actually an increase over fall 2019’s 14,519 students.

Hagg said that CSUSM was able to surpass their spring enrollment goal by “a lot of strong effort from the campus community.” 

The university used a variety of strategies to connect with students to ensure that they enrolled in classes. “We did a strong email campaign; we also used the chat bots so there was text messaging going out to students reminding them about their registration, so that the day of their appointment we would send out a text saying, ‘Hey, don’t forget your registration appointment,’” said Hagg.

If students did not enroll within seven days of their registration appointment, the school would send them another text message reminder. 

An additional strategy was calling students on the phone. “We did a calling campaign once we returned from [winter] break, to help students register for classes, and Academic Advising did a lot of outreach as well,” said Hagg.

According to preliminary information, CSUSM has not experienced any abnormally high numbers of dropouts, said Hagg. 

However, Hagg anticipates that the number of  “out-one terms” will be slightly higher this semester compared to last semester. An “out-one term” allows a student to not enroll in any classes for a semester but remain an active, matriculated student, and is an option for CSUSM undergraduates that were enrolled in classes the previous semester.

“Anecdotally from when I would talk to students, one semester of Zoom school was enough from them, so they just wanted to take a semester break and come back in the fall when we’re planning for predominantly in-person,” said Hagg.

In terms of applications, the school received 9.29 percent fewer applications from first-time freshmen this year than last year. 

The students have proven to be incredibly resilient, and while there’s been many struggles, it’s been a good year.”

— Scott Hagg, Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management Services

Transfer applications for fall 2021 were down 11.6 percent, but one factor of that decrease was that CSUSM accepted transfer students for spring 2020 this year, although they normally only admit transfers in the fall.

“We saw about 1,300 transfer applications for the spring, and they would have normally applied for the fall, but since we allowed them to apply for the spring they came in the spring instead,” said Hagg.

Overall, Hagg described the state of enrollment at CSUSM as “very strong.” 

“The students have proven to be incredibly resilient, and while there’s been many struggles, it’s been a good year,” said Hagg, adding that the year has provided a chance to innovate and find new ways to do things even after the pandemic. 

“We’re looking at a strong enrollment in the fall as well, it’s just a matter of doing the follow-through [with prospective students],” said Hagg.

Anneliese Esparza is a senior literature and writing studies major serving as The Cougar Chronicle’s Editor-in-Chief. She also freelances for local publications.  After graduation, she hopes to become a reporter (and eventually an editor) for a mid-size local newspaper. In her free time, Anneliese enjoys playing piano, reading, spending time with her family and hanging out with her three cats. Twitter handle: @a__esparza

The Cougar Chronicle: The independent student news site of California State University, San Marcos