Colleges, universities see modest changes in fall enrollment due to COVID-19 pandemic

Some students taking off a semester or year

Hunter Jackson a Trinity University student was considering her options to stay home in Chicago or live on campus as she started her freshman year during a pandemic.

SAN ANTONIO – Hunter Jackson, a Trinity University student, was considering her options to stay home in Chicago or live on campus as she started her freshman year during a pandemic.

“I have a family with a history of pre-existing conditions,” she said.

Jackson said she felt comfortable enough with the precautions taken to move into campus and experience college life.

“It’s definitely something to get used to, and it definitely can be challenging at face value. But once you kind of get into it and becomes kind of like routine, it’s doable,” she said.

Eric Maloof, vice president of enrollment management at Trinity University says enrollment numbers are stable.

“What Hunter is saying anecdotally supports the data that we see both at Trinity and other highly selective schools across the country, that students like Hunter ultimately made the decision to go to college,” he said.

The university met its 640-freshman enrollment goal, and about 84% of them chose to live on campus for the first year, Maloof said.

Mike Flores, chancellor of the Alamo Colleges District, says the district is on target to reach last year’s enrollment numbers.

“We have welcomed back the same number of students this fall that we had in fall of 2019. They’re taking a half-credit course less. And we know that’s because of the challenges that they’re confronting at home, and we want to support them,” Flores said.

Here’s a closer look at the numbers in the area for Fall 2019-Fall 2020:

SchoolsFall 2019Fall 2020
Alamo Colleges District67,77467,664
St. Mary’s University3,5143,458
Our Lady of the Lake University2,9742,797
University of the Incarnate Word 8,1787,917

The University of Texas at San Antonio will have its numbers later in October.

Flores said students are also following a national trend of taking a semester or year off.

At Trinity University, the number of gap year students went from 10 to 33 this semester.

Jackson is looking forward to a more normal college experience next year.

“I’m really hoping that we can have like an abundance of lower classes that are in person. And you get the feel of like regular classes, just like how it was before the whole pandemic," she said.

St. Mary’s University issued the following statement:

“In May, St. Mary’s University anticipated a 10% decline in enrollment in accordance with national enrollment predictions. Through the significant efforts of our Enrollment Management team and others across the University, including the School of Law, those predictions were far larger than the very modest decline we experienced this fall. Overall enrollment decreased 1.6% to 3,458 total students for the Fall 2020 semester. We have seen a surge in students interested in our graduate and law programs this fall. Graduate enrollment increased 20.3% and Law enrollment increased 1.9% compared to Fall 2019.”

About the Author:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.