MSU makes efforts to curb decline in admission rates

Since 2018, there has been a decline in students applying to college in the United States. For MSU, in the past 5 years, there has only been a 1% decrease in the overall student body. Incoming first-year students saw the biggest decline that it has had from 2020 to 2021, seeing a 13% decrease in students. Director of Admissions Brian Jones stated that this was a record low in his career in admissions, but has since recovered.

“From 2020, that was the single largest decline in one year’s freshman class in my entire 21 years in admissions. But as of Fall 2022, we’re back up to over 2,300 new first-year students,” said Jones.

Although the decline state and nationwide in students applying for college has been steady, the pandemic had an impact on student admissions. Unlike other schools in the area, MSU was fortunate to have only seen a small decline in numbers comparatively. 

“Most schools around us suffered and had a much smaller class. So I think we benefited from students who were going to have to travel far away, or go to more expensive institutions. Feeling safe, and like they could afford our institution and getting started. But in Fall 2021, there was still a lot of uncertainty around,” said Jones. “So I think the public health reality, and unfortunately, a lot of politics intervened in people’s decision making a lot more than they would in a normal cycle, at least among new students.”

Bringing students to campus is one of the top ways to bring in admissions alongside college fairs and high school visits. During the pandemic, new and creative ways were put in place to keep students interested in MSU.

“We worked with marketing to create a video tour walking around campus as well as offered some virtual sessions on how to sign up for housing and financial aid over Zoom. Some of those were successful enough that we continue to do them post-COVID, even though we’re all back in person and everything, there’s still some value in offering those sessions virtually,” said Jones.

MSU has automatic admission requirements that range from GPA, test scores, and a combination of both. Because MSU is a public institution, the selection is not prestigious Student acceptance qualifications are based on historical data of the campus that help determine the criteria. As recognized by Jones, students are more than a number on a page; if a student is not admissible out of high school, there is an opportunity for them to attend MSU later in their college career.

“There are a lot more factors that go into a student’s education and ability to be successful than just a number on a page. We have a comprehensive review process that allows us to consider other factors before we say no to a student,” stated Jones. “We do recognize that there are a lot of ways for students to become prepared or demonstrate their ability to be successful.”

An aspect that is important to note that has led to a decrease in college admissions is the increase in cost. Many states have opted to disinvest in higher education, which leads to students paying more in tuition costs. Programs such as financial aid and scholarships based on need are available to students to help combat the costs.

“Less of a percentage of the state budget supports public higher education than there used to be. That means an institution like ours costs a lot more money out of the pockets of students and families than it did. As a society, we as a state, we as communities, need to decide how important having an educated population is,” said Jones. “The more we think about the types of jobs that are going to be required, and the types of jobs that are going to be available for students, personally, my opinion is that we need institutions of higher education, both two-year and four-year. Someone’s got to pay for it, so I’m concerned.”

It is also important to recognize that not all individuals want to attend a four-year university and would be better suited to a two-year college or certificate program.

“I’ve always believed that not every student belongs at a four-year university. The most important thing is that a student is exploring what their goals are and what their interests and skills are, and identify the right preparation for that,” said Jones.

Header photo: The COVID-19 pandemic caused a 13% decrease in students attending MSU. Some of the reasons behind the decline are the rising cost of tuition rates and students choosing to attend two year college programs. (Ajay Kasaudhan/The Reporter)

Write to Andrea Schoenecker at

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