Expansion predicted despite decreased enrollment

While official Castleton College enrollment numbers won’t be available until Oct. 15, it’s clear that this year’s in- coming class is much smaller than classes in recent years, although explanations why are elusive.
“We had a similar situation in 2007, then the following year we had record-breaking numbers,” said Maurice Oui- met, dean of enrollment. “It just happens.”
President Dave Wolk wanted to clarify the numbers too, saying “It’s not low en- rollment, it’s different enroll- ment.”
What Wolk is referring to is the increase of part-time and graduate students as op- posed to traditional, full-time students.
If you’re looking for evi- dence of this change, just check the residence halls.
According to Director of Residence Life Mike Robilot- to, last year there were about a dozen incoming students liv- ing in a hotel in Rutland until they could find space for them on campus. This year, how- ever, there are many empty rooms and no forced triples.
Currently, there are roughly 970 students living on campus. At full capacity, the campus could handle nearly 1,100.
“Affordability” was a word that came up several times while speaking with Ouimet.
He said that affordability is the number one reason stu- dents withdraw from college or only enroll part-time. He said another reason enrollment is down is because of the lack of 18-year-olds in New Eng- land.
Upperclassmen, however, don’t seem to mind the de- creased number of freshmen.
“I like it because I don’t have to park in South Street, which is nice,” said junior Courtney Shannon.
To boost future enrollment, this year recruiters are going further than ever before, Oui- met said. Admissions officers will be traveling all the way to the west coast to find potential Spartans, he said.
And the school isn’t stop- ping there.
Wolk said there is “quite an initiative to attract and retain international students.” He ex- pects more students from Chi- na, East Africa, India, Japan, Canada and European nations.
The new website, Ouimet said, will help with this en- deavor, giving potential stu- dents a good sense of what Castleton is before they com- mit to making the trip out to visit or enroll.
This year’s lower full-time enrollment is seen as an iso- lated incident and therefore does not drastically affect the budget. If this trend continues for multiple years, officials said there will have to be a few changes to the budget and pro- grams.
According to administra- tors, the plan to expand is still in place and this year is not in- dicative of a downward trend.
As well as maintaining a consistent number of under- graduate students, the focus is now on the many graduate programs offered including the upcoming arts administration and athletic leadership pro- grams.
“One of our goals is to be the premier master’s degree institution in Vermont,” Wolk said.
Wolk made a point to say that Castleton has experienced 10 years of growth and as part of the “Castleton Plan” will likely continue a gradual increase in students and pro- grams.

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