By Meredith Schellin
Enrollment continues to stay at one of its highest point in Asbury’s history, despite the loss of approximately 65 students, according to Vice President for Enrollment Management Dr. Mark Troyer.
Fall of 2013 marked Asbury’s highest enrollment, with a total of 1,782 students in a variety of programs. According to Troyer, spring 2014’s enrollment of approximately 1,713 students — while lower than its fall counterpart — is 62 more students than were registered in various programs last spring.
Decreased enrollment in the spring is not unexpected, according to Troyer and Lisa Harper, director of admissions.
“Attrition of students is due in part to [December] graduations, finances, academic suspensions and life changes,” Harper said. Troyer echoed Harper’s statement and followed with the fact that the majority of Asbury’s recruiting takes place in the fall.
Despite the loss of students between fall and spring semesters, Troyer states that Asbury continues to maintain one of the highest retention rates in the Coalition of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).
“We track retention rates on a national average that looks primarily at first-time and full-time freshmen and tracks them from fall freshman year to sophomore year,” said Troyer. “Our retention rate is generally around 80 percent, which is higher then our benchmark CCCU comparison schools. Our retention rate of the freshmen from fall to spring semester is usually around 90-95 percent.”
Both Troyer and Harper believe that enrollment continues to grow for a variety of reasons:
“Asbury has excellent academic programs led by great faculty,” said Troyer. He explaind that Asbury’s “brand,” which emphasizes its motto of spiritual vitality and academic excellence, has been growing and is seen as vital.
He added that,“Many across campus, including admissions folks, faculty, staff and students, tell the Asbury story well, welcome visitors and attract other students who are interested in what we have to offer. Asbury has maintained its mission and focus, and that is an attractive thing.”
Harper agreed with Troyer’s statement, saying, “We have marketable programs … [and] solid leadership with a vision for where we would like to be in years to come.”
Harper also mentioned that the growth of the current student body can be attritbuted to the families and alumni who are living out the mission of Asbury nationwide and across the globe.
In order to ensure the growth of Asbury, Harper and Troyer both spoke about different plans to continue to increase enrollment for next semester and the years to come.
“We are intentionally adding more visit events to enable families to experience life on our campus,” said Harper. “We are refining and defining our communication to encourage more students to consider Asbury, and we are actively including our campus, faculty and students to help recruit students.”
In addition to using students, faculty and their families to recruit new students, Harper mentioned that Dr. Troyer has worked to help collaborate with Institutional Advancement and donors to add a variety of scholarship like the Indian Springs Scholarship and the Business Scholarship, along with nationally-recognized programs and organizations, like Youth Salute,
The Salvation Army and Rogers Scholar Program, as well as leading Asbury through the launch of lacrosse teams and an online offering in the Asbury Academy program.
Troyer believes that these are the programs and initiatives that set Asbury apart and make it successful.
“We have a Strategic Enrollment Team that has drafted a strategic enrollment plan that includes best practices in enrollment, growth across different programs, new graduate degrees, exploring data so we know what works, being wise with our financial aid, launching summer academic camps to introduce students to Asbury and many other things,” said Troyer.
“Many small institutions are declining and struggling, we continue to thank the Lord that we have been able to maintain our enrollment and even grow it in recent years.”