Update on Enrollment Trends

Dear Colleagues,

The extraordinary volatility in the undergraduate student "market" that we began to experience with huge increases in discount rates -- the proportion of tuition revenue returned to students in the form of grant aid -- at institutions of higher education for fall 2008 continues into 2010. I am writing to provide data on how we are navigating through this dynamic environment via an update on undergraduate new-student enrollment for midyear, total undergraduate enrollment at midyear and fall 2010 admission trends at our freshman application deadline.


Midyear new-student enrollment reached 95 students, more than double last year's total of 41 and 28 percent higher than the previous record total of 74 in 2006. Clearly our aggressive efforts to meet the needs of students struggling to find suitable educational opportunities within the public sector were successful. Strikingly, much of the midyear application activity occurred during December and January. It appears the impact of state funding cuts at public institutions began to be felt more fully by students at that time.

Midyear total undergraduate enrollment

The College targeted higher midyear new undergraduate student enrollment, in part, in response to slightly lower than budgeted total undergraduate enrollment for fall 2009 (10 students). As the attached table indicates, this shortfall in fall 2009 enrollment resulted from slightly higher than anticipated spring 2009 to fall 2009 returning student attrition (of about 1 percent). As of 2/19/10, undergraduate enrollment totals 2,345, slightly higher than our budget target of 2,340. We will continue to closely monitor student accounts to insure that enrollment totals are reflected in collected revenues. For now, it appears that achieving the College's ambitious midyear new student budget target will result in SMC meeting or slightly exceeding its overall undergraduate tuition revenue target.

Fall 2010 undergraduate admission trends

At the first year student deadline, applications total 3,706, the highest in College history (Note: Due to their negligible impact on ultimate enrollment totals, I have chosen for this data presentation to exclude the FastAP experiment of 2006-2007.) This represents an increase of 18.6 percent from last year and 15.9 percent from the average of the previous four years. While our strategic recruitment initiatives (e.g., improved communications messages and materials, targeting and development of new recruitment territories and utilization of an online portal for every undergraduate prospective student) contributed to this dramatic increase, funding cuts at California's public institutions of higher education no doubt also played a significant part in fueling the increase. While a more detailed analysis will be available after the files are carefully read and admissions decisions completed, it is clear that the pool includes extraordinary increases in student ability (with honors students increasing by more than 30 percent) male applicants and diversity (especially among African American applicants).

Please remember that financial aid modeling for fall 2010 calls for significantly smaller SMC scholarships for all needy students with the result of a significant decline in yield. Coupled with the enrollment maxim that a more talented applicant pool inevitably results in a lower yield on admitted students, it appears that our larger applicant pool bodes well for our ability to meet, if not exceed, our net tuition and enrollment goals for new first-year students for fall 2010.

More striking is the 62.6 percent increase in applications from transfer students. It appears that the midyear trend will extend at least through the fall 2010 enrollment cycle. We will continue aggressive efforts to recruit and enroll these students. Our fall 2010 enrollment goal of 150 transfers seems easily achievable given these application totals.

The Admissions Office continues to ask for and appreciates your assistance in recruiting and enrolling this plentiful, talented group of applicants.

Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments about these data.


Michael Beseda

VP Enrollment and College Communications