By Emily Drooby
As she steps through the doors of St. Francis College, Gabrielle Lora also steps towards her future. The freshman is studying for a career in education.
“This is a great school, and I love it so much,” she said.
Gabrielle is part of the largest freshman class in the history of the school. For the 2020 school year, St. Francis had 747 incoming freshmen, a 22 percent jump from 2019.
This means the school bucks a national trend. This fall, freshman enrollment dropped 13 percent in the U.S.
Community colleges had the steepest drop off, at almost 19 percent.
While the pandemic financial woes and learning from home is likely to blame for some of the drop, it has actually been an ongoing trend. Enrollment numbers have dropped 11 percent over the past eights years. Experts say it’s due to more immediate job opportunities and the high cost of college.
So how did St. Francis College grow? Alumnus and Director of Recruitment Rob Oliva says it’s because they got creative and personal with recruiting.
“We increased our communication with students by hosting numerous virtual visit sessions, personal visits with high schools and we were able to connect with our students in very personal ways,”he explained. “We know our students’ names, they know us.”
That recruitment style is what drew in Gabrielle.
“St. Francis came to my high school. The president, Miguel, was able to basically talk about the core values: dream, serve, achieve, and something was telling me this was the school,” she told Currents News.
Her decision was solidified by the people.
“I saw how everyone was like, ‘Hi, hi, welcome, welcome,’ and I wanted to be a part of that,” she said.
Money was also at play, as many families have struggled financially because of the pandemic.
An average four-year private college in New York City costs 32,500 dollars. Tuition at St. Francis College is 26,688 dollars but an average student pays 13,500 dollars after institutional aid, and under 10,000 dollars after the government aid kicks in too.
Ninety-nine percent of their students get institutional aid.
This year, the school even offered extra help through an emergency relief fund for students struggling from pandemic financial woes.
“But thanks to the generosity of our alumni, friends and benefactors, we were able to offer a very generous scholarship program to our students,” said Rob.