THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University posted a strong freshman retention rate despite a drop in Spring enrollment due to the effects of COVID-19 and Hurricane Ida.
Enrollment dropped 10 percent from Spring 2021, with 5,531 students, according to 14th-class day statistics.
Nicholls President Dr. Jay Clune noted that this is an expected result. The community is still amid an elongated pandemic and recovering from a devastating hurricane.
“We have juniors here at Nicholls who have only known college through the lens of this pandemic. We understand how difficult that can be,” he said. “I commend the students who have remained on campus and look forward to better days ahead.”
In August, Dr. Clune announced the university would restructure its recruitment and retention strategies. Now, those efforts live under the Office of Academic Affairs and are led by Dr. Sue Westbrook, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Renee Hicks, the assistant vice president of institutional effectiveness, access and success. The positive impact has been immediate. Fall-to-Spring retention of first-time freshmen is 90.5 percent. This is a 7.9 percentage point increase from last year, and the first time this number has held above 90 in more than a decade.
“When we post retention rates like this, it means our entire campus community has come together to provide extraordinary support for our students during the recovery from a major hurricane on top of a pandemic,” Hicks said.
Despite the down year in enrollment, Dr. Clune believes the university is picking up momentum again.
“In addition to our strong retention rates, we also see applications are up year-to-year. I attribute that to our data-led approach to recruitment and retention by Ms. Hicks and her team,” Dr. Clune said. “With a new marketing campaign and increased recruitment and retention efforts, we anticipate a return to an upward trend in enrollment.”