Westchester’s higher-education sector is doing well overall, despite demographic trends and chilling anti-foreigner headwinds from Washington. Purchase College, for example, welcomed its largest freshman class in history last fall, according to Dennis Craig, vice president of enrollment and student affairs. “We housed roughly 100 students at Doral Arrowwood because we’re bursting at the seams,” he says. “We have housing on campus for 2,800 students, but we ran out of space. A new residence hall with more than 300 beds will open in the fall of 2019.”
Dr. Louise Feroe, provost of Manhattanville College, on the other hand, says enrollment there was soft. “One of the things that hit us was the decline in international students. That’s not something over which we have much control, since it comes from the current political climate and some changes in regulations, particularly for masters’ students,” Feroe explains.
“There are 33 million students in the US with some college credits but who have not received a degree. There are lots of opportunities with these nontraditional populations.”
—John McLoughlin, Senior Director of Enrollment, Concordia College
The biggest factor working against enrollments is the aging of our population, but every Westchester college we spoke with has a strategy for overcoming that. Says Feroe: “There are fewer 18-year-olds, so we are building programs that appeal to the adult students returning to school.”
“There are 33 million students in the US with some college credits but who have not received a degree,” points out John McLoughlin, Concordia College’s senior director of enrollment. “There are lots of opportunities with these nontraditional populations.” Concordia saw a nine percent increase in enrollment in the fall, largely due to the school’s addition of popular job-market-oriented majors, such as criminal justice and radiology, and an accelerated nursing program.
Purchase College. Photo courtesy of Purchase College
Mercy College president Tim Hall says the college is riding another demographic trend. “We are really focused on giving access to the widest variety of students,” he says. “We are the largest private minority-serving institution in the state. With demographics heading toward a more diverse population, we believe we will benefit from that.” Dobbs Ferry is the home of Mercy’s largest campus but Hall says the school is at capacity at that location so it is substantially increasing its investment in its Manhattan campus.
Pace University sees growth potential in yet another market. “Yes, there is a smaller number of 18-year-olds, but that also means a smaller employee pool, so companies will need to develop their current employees if they want to be market leaders. That’s an opportunity for higher education,” observes Robina Schepp, Pace’s vice president for enrollment management. “We’ll be looking for shorter-term skill-and-credential programs in a concept of continuous learning. It may not be totally based in degree programs. Those may be required for entry-level positions, but continued learning will be necessary to advance.”