A new state report found the number of high school seniors immediately going on to college fell 11 percent from 2017 to 2021.
The rate last year stood at 52.8 percent. Interim Enrollment Management and Career Placement Vice President Karen Lykins said the university saw a 3.4 percent decrease in freshmen enrollment in 2021.
“I think the chaos of COVID and our need to totally change the way we delivered education, people’s expectations, stress and the disruption has really set the stage for that kind of enrollment drop,” Lykins said.
Lykins said Tech’s location and target on Upper Cumberland students helped combat a major enrollment drop.
“We’ve spent the last couple of years at the university really going back and looking at our roots speaking with the Cookeville High School, Monterey High School, Upperman High School students just like we would recruit others,” Lykins said. “They obviously know what it is like to live in Cookeville, but maybe, they don’t know what it is like to go to Tennessee Tech and we can’t take that for granted.”
Lykins said next year, the incoming freshman class is expected to be a large one. Lykins said incoming freshmen are applying for student orientation registration at all-time highs.
“Yes, we do fit the trend in some ways, but we’re also seeing at least in the Upper Cumberland that we are bouncing back from it and expect to see first time freshmen at a very good place this fall,” Lykins said.
Similar enrollment trends are seen nationally, according to the study. The National Student Clearinghouse Current Term Enrollment Estimates reporting a 9.2 percent total decline in freshman enrollment between fall 2019 and fall 2021.