It’s no secret that for over a year now, the COVID-19 pandemic has acted as an invisible hand on pretty much everything in the world, but how much has it impacted enrollment at Castleton?
“It certainly had a tremendous impact on our enrollment last fall,” said Maurice Ouimet, dean of Enrollment at Castleton University. “New students who were admitted made a variety of choices to either defer or to press pause for a while.”
Ouimet added that enrollment in the fall was down 12% from the previous year.
“Just between current students who chose to take a leave of absence during the pandemic and students who had come to Castleton for the first time, there were about 200 of them that decided to wait,” Ouimet said.
Because of this, Ouimet believes that next fall will see a lot of returning faces as the campus hopefully opens up more.
Ouimet said one of the main reasons students decided to wait out the storm was due to the various decisions made by Castleton in response to the pandemic. Marc Casabonne, a freshman at UVM, said before Castleton’s decision to be fully online for the fall, he had strong interest in coming here.
“I chose UVM and had three online classes in the fall, so yes, I’d say Covid did contribute a bit to my decision to go to UVM over Castleton,” Casabonne said.
Ouimet also added that the pandemic pushed some students to decide to stay in Vermont, and freshman Machaela Corbin fits that mold.
“I wanted to stay in Vermont so if I needed to pack my stuff and get sent home quickly, I would feel a little more comfortable,” said Machaela Corbin, who lives in Swanton.
Corbin also addressed how the early rise of the pandemic played another pivotal part in her decision.
“I got sent home from high school in February so I didn’t really have as much time to plan and talk to counselors, so I figured Castleton would be a good fit,” she said.
In addition to seeing an increase in student interest for the fall, the Admission Office recently began in-person admissions tours of the campus as well, signaling progress towards a return to normalcy for the fall.
“We have Monday through Friday twice a day, and Saturday mornings are available, but if you look at the calendar, they’re all filling in pretty quickly,” Ouimet said. “There was a lot of pent-up demand.”
Currently the tours are limited to two students and their families, with hopes that larger groups will be allowed in the next couple months, he said.