President Toro Battles Enrollment Crisis

Derek McLeod, Contributer

Central Connecticut State’s enrollment numbers have taken a hit over the past year, with a total of 9,653 students enrolled at CCSU for the fall 2021 semester, down from 10,652 students during the fall of 2020.

The enrollment numbers follow the trend set during the spring 2021 semester, which saw 9,629 students enroll in the COVID-19 impacted semester, the lowest number in CCSU history.

In an interview with The Recorder, President Zulma Toro explained that the university’s focus is to create connections with students, both returning and incoming.

“We want to have a very strong blanket of support,” she said.

Toro mentioned that the decline in enrollment is because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a newly competitive job market persuading students to put their degrees on hold.

With more jobs opening for students at a higher pay rate, some say they do not need a college degree to succeed and can work before their schooling is finished.

“We are competing with the job market in that sense,” Toro said.

She went on to explain that, the main priority in increasing enrollment goes along with student retention and CCSU’s “blanket of support.” This plays a role in convincing current students that this school is the best place to continue their education.

CCSU is hoping for a gradual increase in enrollment over the next couple of semesters by helping students during a challenging financial period, having a contained cost to attend CCSU. The university also plans on expanding the First Year Connected program for the first year, first-gen and exploratory students.

Additional factors include mental and emotional support for students during the pandemic, continued opportunities for internships through work-study programs, and a lowered rate for out-of-state students residing in New York or New Jersey.

With an eye towards the future, Toro stated enrollment for the fall 2022 semester will be the “most important,” as it proves to be a vital point in the university’s history.

According to Toro, resident hall occupancy is essential. The resident hall currently stands at 1,720 students this semester. This is a massive increase from the 2020 fall semester, where just 993 students were living in campus housing.

The goal is to have ‘between 2,300-2,400’ students living on campus, with a target number of 10,250 students enrolled to CCSU for the fall 2022 semester, according to Toro.

“[These numbers] will show we’re moving in the right direction,” she said.

While life before COVID-19 is slowly returning, CCSU’s numbers will likely experience a gradual return within the following year.