HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) – A local university said they experienced a big drop in student enrollment last year during the fall because of the pandemic but now they say those numbers are expected to pick back up this year.
Officials at Coastal Carolina University said last year a little over 10,000 new students enrolled at CCU for the fall but this year they said projections show enrollment numbers are expected to surpass that number.
“That decrease was pretty much all new students coming to the university so those that were graduating high school in 2020. I think that was because they lost the ability in many ways to finalize their college search,” Associate Vice-President for Enrollment Management at CCU, Amanda Craddock said.
Craddock said she believes new students were not enrolling because of uncertainty of what college would look like.
“When COVID started, they couldn’t visit. They hadn’t made their college selections. They did not know what it was going to look like. Was it going to be virtual? Was it going to be in-person? So, many of those students either delayed their college plans,” Craddock said.
Right now, colleges are transitioning back to in-person learning. Craddock said she believes new student enrollment numbers are expected to get back on track this fall semester.
“Our projections show right now that we are going to be definitely over 10,000 students. Last year, we were at about 10,100 and we are going to be over that,” Craddock said.
Craddock also added students might feel safer returning to class as vaccination rates continue to increase. Even though new student enrollment numbers were lower, she said that was not the case with returning students.
“Our returning students was very strong. So, the students that had already been at Coastal, that had completed classes, had an affinity with the university they returned in higher numbers than they had previously,” Craddock said.
Craddock said classes begin in 6 weeks and expects enrollment numbers to increase. She said numbers won’t be finalized once residence halls reopen in mid-August.