HSU enrollment decline


Humboldt State University has opened its big green doors to the world once more and students are once again flowing through these bright and hallowed halls after an unprecedented hiatus during the onset of COVID-19.

However, the number of students who ended up attending school has gone down significantly, not only just since COVID-19 hit, but as a general trend over the last five years, according to data released by the HSU Division of Enrollment Management.

Applications have gone down by 38% since 2016, and more downward trending is predicted due to declining birth rates in California. The data also showed that 10,538 students applied to HSU for the Fall 2021 semester, 1,208 of which ended up registering for classes, compared to 14,226 and 1,642 respectively in Fall 2019.

On a more positive note, average GPA seemed to go up at the very onset of COVID-19. According to data on the HSU website, the average freshman GPA rose from 2.75 in Fall 2019 to 2.95 in the Fall 2020. Sophomore GPA rose from 2.96 to 3.06, and a similar trend was seen henceforth for all over class levels from the fall 2019 to the fall of 2020, with the exception of the credential program which saw a drop from 3.96 to 3.90.

These numbers were released just days apart from the submission of HSU’s official application for polytechnic status, which claimed outright that a polytechnic designation would drastically increase enrollment.

“Humboldt State University would expect to see enrollment increase 50% within three years and 100% within seven years, immediately adding highly educated and trained graduates to the California workforce,” the document said.

In an interview, representatives from the HSU Admissions team acknowledged the challenges that lay ahead but maintained a vigorous enthusiasm that these goals are more than attainable with some of the changes and improvements they have implemented.

“We’re building housing that’s going to be connected to academic space and have learning communities and residential Learning and have more connection with advisors and the career center because that’s a key part of seeing students stay. And then the other part is a sense of belonging,” Dr. Meriwether said.

The plan for polytechnic status includes funding for more student housing as well, an age-old issue for HSU. Dr. Meriwether said the plan would provide housing for roughly 2,200 students both on and off-campus.

An expanded look at some of the work being done by the Admissions Team to both bring students to HSU and keep them there will be covered in a future issue of the Lumberjack.

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  1. raveyrave raveyrave Thursday, September 9, 2021

    This is pretty informative. But I do have an opinion on why the application to attend this school has gone down, is that it’s not really inclusive racially. And for people who come from bigger cities entering Arcata or Eureka they can miss home more because the variety here is minimum.

  2. Kay Bee Kay Bee Sunday, September 26, 2021

    As an alum and now parent of college age kids, I have strongly discouraged my kids from considering HSU. Why? It’s primarily the drug culture that permeates not only hsu but the entire region. Sure, there are illicit drugs at every college/university; but at hsu and the north coast it’s taken to another level.

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