UAlbany Forecasts Encouraging Enrollment Trends for Fall 2021

Screenshot from the virtual Extended President’s Council.

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 10, 2021) – Following more than a year of unprecedented change caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, yesterday’s Extended President’s Council offered some positive news on enrollment as the University prepares to transition back to primarily in-person instruction for Fall 2021.

Provost Carol Kim and Vice President for Student Affairs Mike Christakis led the discussion with an update on the University’s Strategic Enrollment Management Plan (SEM). They were followed by Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Ed Engelbride, who offered an update on our undergraduate applicant pool; Dean of Undergraduates Studies JoAnne Malatesta, who discussed strategies to increase undergraduate retention numbers; and Dean of the Graduate School Kevin Williams, who closed the discussion with an update on attracting new grad students.

While numbers are expected to fluctuate through the summer, as of this month, UAlbany’s undergraduate deposit yield rate (students choosing to enroll after acceptance) is 4 percent higher than in 2019. Total freshmen deposits are also 16 percent higher than 2019 deposits. To put these gains in perspective, UAlbany is leading all state institutions in both total deposit increases and year-over-year percentage increases from 2019 to 2021, according to SUNY’s system-wide deposit figures that were shared in May. 

When diving deeper into the numbers, both the academic quality and diversity of new undergraduate students are trending in the right direction. Honors College deposits are up 125 percent (from 125 to 282), and deposits from students in the top three academic indexes are up 27 percent. Deposits from students of ethnically diverse backgrounds are up 18 percent, putting this new class of Great Danes on track to be the most diverse in University history. 

Out-of-state freshmen and international deposits have also increased, already surpassing Fall 2021 goals, and the Graduate School is on pace to have its highest number of applicants ever, in part due to a targeted digital advertising campaign run with the support of the Office of Communications and Marketing.

Strategies such as direct admit and first-year experience programs, personalized student support systems, removing financial barriers and targeted re-enrollment campaigns have helped increase retention rates, including a 17 percent uptick in student readmission from last year. 

“Everything we hope to achieve will depend – to a large extent – on our ability to improve student recruitment, enrollment and retention. This is why we established a Strategic Enrollment Management committee led by Vice President Christakis and Provost Kim,” said President Rodríguez. “Over the past 14 months we’ve certainly had to pivot most of our attention to navigating the pandemic, but we truly never lost sight of our other major priorities. Our admissions team has done a great job adapting in very uncertain waters, and we have landed in a quite positive position.”

“The idea behind the SEM plan is really to get us in a position where there is a bona fide roadmap – not anticipating the pandemic, which was a bump in the road – that drives us as it relates to both undergraduate and graduate enrollment,” Christakis added. “This is a shared responsibility and shared lift that each of us has a stake in… ultimately our goal is to grow the number of students that attend the University at Albany.”

A Virtual Recruitment Strategy

The COVID-19 pandemic not only brought many new challenges to the current campus community, but to prospective students and their families too. The vast majority of the Fall 2021 recruitment cycle was in a virtual environment including college fairs, general information sessions, meetings with schools/guidance counselors, and campus visits. 

UAlbany’s Strategic Enrollment Management Team worked collaboratively with leaders across campus over the past 14 months to develop and execute a virtual recruitment strategy that has been met with tremendous success.

Highlights included:

  • The launch of a “Spotlight Series” offered more than 50 virtual sessions for prospective students that were focused on specific academic programs and other specialized topics such as the First-Year Experience, Honors College, Residential Life, Co-Curricular Opportunities and Financing Your Education. The total reach was more than 8,300 attendees.
  • Two campus preview days and two accepted student houses held virtually.
  • Expediting application decisions and financial aid packages, enhancing enrollment marketing outreach, and augmenting yield activities.
  • Increased partnership with the University in the High School Program

Working within the COVID-19 safety protocols, UAlbany was also among a select few universities in New York that hosted in-person campus tours, beginning in February 2021. These tours attracted more than 2,730 prospective students and 2,600 family members. 

Watch the full video recording of yesterday’s Extended President’s Council.