The Lord has been very good to us, and by His grace, it appears that we will have a very strong enrollment for the fall semester. In fact, it looks as though we will need to keep Faith Hall open for one more year.
Our May 15, 2017 Admissions report documented 903 freshman deposits. At this point in 2015, we had 829 and in 2016, we had 797. Our transfer deposits are also tracking ahead of past years at 89 this year in comparison to 80 in 2016 and 57 in 2015. While many factors have led to this increase, I am thankful for the hard work of the Admissions team, for all your efforts at recruiting, and I am ultimately thankful to God who controls the hearts and minds of potential students.
Before anyone gets too excited, deposits do not indicate enrolled students. Over the summer we have some students who withdraw their deposits, which we refer to as the melt, appropriately named after ice melting in the summer sun. Unless something unprecedented happens, we should still have a very strong fall enrollment, which is great news.
Along with the great news of a large freshman class and an unusually high number of female deposits for the freshman class, comes the matter of where to put all of them. I welcome this challenge. At the current deposit and retention numbers, we project 70 women beyond the traditional capacity. Additionally, we have exhausted the list of those who applied for off-campus housing.
Altogether, this calls for us to be a University that is keeping faith — Faith Hall, that is. The capacity of the front half of Faith Hall is 74 students, which is perfect for us to keep open for one more year. We will likely build another new residence hall so that we can eventually raze Faith. As most of you know, I have not spoken of it in the most glowing terms over the past year. It has served us well, but honestly, it has served for far too long, even though it can help us for this next year. Even so, we have retention concerns about putting all freshmen students in Faith Hall.
Our solution, then, is to incentivize returning students to choose to live in Faith for one year by offering a 40% discount for Faith Hall. This amounts to a savings of about $1,600 over the course of next year. Lord willing, we will have returning students excited to save a little money and not only walk by faith, but live in it. We have sent emails out to our returning students, but since many of them don’t frequently check their email in the summer, please help get the word out about this opportunity to returning female students. We will do our best to make it a fun environment for them to live in.
As I close, I do want to remind you of what you already know. One banner year in recruiting does not make a trend. Should the trajectory continue, and we have a record number of freshmen students this fall, it will make things easier in planning future budgets, but it will not have much effect on the 2017–18 budget. We need to have four years of consistently strong enrollments, and while I am very thankful to God for our fall 2017 projections, a strong number will really only offset the lower number of freshmen in 2016. Even so, let’s be very thankful to the Lord that not only does our financial picture for the current year look better than most private universities in higher education, but our student numbers for next year do as well. God has truly blessed us, so let’s make sure we keep the faith.
In Christ Alone,
Cedarville University President