Enrollment declines for fourth consecutive year

As high school graduation rates decline, Ferris continues to struggle with shrinking enrollment

The above graph was taken from the Ferris State University 2018 - 19 Factbook

Ferris enrollment dropped for the fourth consecutive year, this time by 6% and it’s predicted to continue on a decline in the coming years.

Enrollment has fallen for a number of reasons and it appears to be out of the university officials’ hands. One of the main reasons is due to Michigan’s high school graduation rate and that too is predicted to continue to fall.

“Our most challenging circumstance is that the State of Michigan has one of the largest predicted declines in the number of high school graduates in the US. Between 2013 to 2025, we are predicted to have 14,000 fewer high school graduates. And from 2025 to 2032, we are predicted to lose 10,000 more,” Ferris’ Dean of Enrollment Services, Kristen Salomonson said.

In 2013 the state of Michigan had 111,000 high school graduates, however, that is predicted to shrink down to 87,000.

This is not the only reason Ferris is experiencing low enrollment numbers. Trade schools and the workforce also seem to have a large impact on the university’s enrollment as well.

“Finally, particularly for our statewide and online enrollments, the positive economic and unemployment trends traditionally mean fewer people opt to pursue education and instead participate more actively in the labor market. When a greater number of good jobs are available, enrollment at colleges and universities tend to decline,” Salomonson said.

Now with less students enrolling at Ferris State, the university must figure out how to encourage students to come to college. This proves to be challenging with the decline of students graduating high school along with other larger university’s being available to them.

That being said, other universities are experiencing the same decline. For example, Grand Valley State University has lost more than 1,000 students from 2018 to 2019.

“I don’t think you can change the mindsets of these individuals. However, if Ferris were to advertise themselves by encouraging positive outcomes of going to our university, I believe this could change the outcome,” Ferris dental hygiene student Clarissa De Roo said.

In addition to new recruiting efforts, Ferris is planning ahead with budgeting and are preparing for lower numbers.

“We planned for having fewer student credit hours and adjusted budgets accordingly. As a result of our accuracy, the effect on the University from fewer students and corresponding lower revenue will be contained,” Solomonson said.

Other Ferris students think fear of debt is why less students are seeking college degrees and are looking into trade school instead. This may hold true with tuition prices across the state on the rise.

“I think students are afraid of becoming in debt. Going straight into the work force gives them the comfort that they will not have to take out loans to go to school just to go back to work,” Ferris construction management student Leah Hawthorne said.