ANGOLA, Ind. (WANE) — Despite predictions of a decline in higher education enrollment because of the coronavirus, Trine University is expecting a record high enrollment for the fall semester.
According to Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., Trine’s president, the university will welcome more than 700 new incoming students to its campus. This number includes incoming freshman and transfer students.
“It’s the highest it’s ever been,” said Brooks.
It’s also the highest residential population Trine has ever had, with more than 1,550 students living on campus, which is maximum capacity.
Trine has about 2,300 students on its main campus. It also will have more than 200 enrolled at its Fort Wayne Center for Health Sciences, and expects more than 2,000 students to participate in dual enrollment programs this fall.
Trine also expects more than 900 students to be enrolled in its College of Graduate and Professional Studies, which is expected to enroll more than 100 new international graduate students.
This high enrollment comes after Fitch Ratings Group released a report in June that estimated many colleges and universities will see enrollment declines of 5% to 20% this fall due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brooks attributes Trine’s success to a combination of the $160 million it invested to improving its facilities over the course of the last six or eight years, along with all of the programs it offers. He said a lot of the money went into improving on-campus housing, technology in classrooms and the athletic facilities.
“Another thing that contributed to incoming student recruitment success is the high retention rate,” said Brooks. “There was a significant increase in our retention from 76 to 84 percent.”
Trine started a mixture of in-person and online classes Monday.
“We went to planning and preparing since March to have students here on-campus in an open residential format,” said Brooks. “We went to a great extent to do proper social distancing and spacing in the classroom.”
Students are required to wear masks the entire time they are in university facilities, such as the classroom, besides their own dorm. There are Plexiglas shields to protect instructors.
If a student contracts COVID-19, Brooks said the individual student will have to isolate and quarantine themselves off-campus.
The university plans to report its final headcount of students in September.