Class of 2025 enrollment numbers show improvement from previous years

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On Mar. 15, Terry Cowdrey, DePauw’s interim vice president for enrollment management, sent an email to DePauw employees about the incoming Class of 2025. According to her email, the school currently has 270 housing deposits—the first financial commitment students make to the university. 

In 2018, the school had 185 deposits by Mar. 15, and in 2020, the school had 163 deposits, so this year marks an increase for commitments so far. The deadline for housing deposits is May 1. Cowdrey’s email also noted higher commitment to the School of Music and specific programs on campus like the Fellows and Servicio programs. 

According to Amanda Ryan, DePauw’s assistant vice president for admission, “several factors” may have affected the increase in deposits. The university incentivized students to deposit before Mar. 1, offering them the opportunity “to preference their top three residence halls in the housing application,” which Ryan believes may have encouraged students to deposit before the requirement.

Students who deposit before April 20 are also eligible to participate in a free online class offered by Dr. Andrew Cullison, the director of the Prindle Institute, called “Ethics of Pandemics.” The course was offered for the first time last spring to incoming first-years who had completed the process of committing to DePauw. The school “had great success with it and [are] hoping for the same again this year,” Ryan said. She described the course as part of an effort to “build a sense of community and affinity for our incoming students” before the school year starts. 

She also pointed out that DePauw is one of the “very few” colleges that is currently allowing in-person visits to the campus. “The campus visit is such an important part of the admission process for students looking at DePauw,” Ryan said. It allows students to get a better understanding of the college campus and living situation than they can virtually. 

Despite being able to continue on-campus visits, the admissions department had to adjust to recruitment following COVID-19 regulations. Ryan described the year as “marked by creativity, flexibility and collaboration.” Instead of travelling to high schools to recruit students, counsellors held individual meetings and group recruitment events on Zoom. “Finding a way to engage students while balancing Zoom fatigue was a challenge that many of us are still trying to navigate,” she said. 

One “silver lining,” Ryan said, was the development of virtual resources and policies the department didn’t have before. In addition to being necessary under COVID-19 regulations, Ryan believes these virtual options could benefit students who can’t travel to campus easily for any reason in the future. 

According to Ryan, feedback from students and families suggest that “the communication and attention students are receiving from our DePauw community is some of the best they have received.” 

Cowdrey’s email listed concerns for the incoming class, one of which was travel restrictions and vaccination concerns for international students intending to attend the university in the fall. She said there is “great uncertainty” about what issues may arise. 

She also included an opinion piece from The Chronicle of Higher Education, which described the difficulty schools are facing in predicting how many prospective students will actually choose to attend the university due to the pandemic. Melissa Korn of The Wall Street Journal wrote an article describing the current models to predict enrollment as “useless” during the pandemic because individual students are applying to more schools. 

Currently, Cowdrey’s email suggests that DePauw does not expect to receive any more applications for the Class of 2025 and is in the process of admitting students. She wrote, “Despite these concerns, the Enrollment team remains optimistic and determined to do everything in our power to enroll an outstanding new class.”