Freshman commitments to Marquette University are up by more than 21 percent this year, according to campus administrators. If the numbers hold until fall, that would mark the school's first enrollment increase since the fall of 2019.
A press release from Wisconsin's largest private university said 2,027 students have committed to enroll this fall. That number would represent a reversal of recent dips in freshman enrollment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Between the fall 2019 and fall 2020, Marquette's first-year student enrollment fell by 15 percent. Freshman admissions this past fall were similar to those in fall 2020.
Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Brian Troyer said the university had a goal of enrolling 1,843 first-year students in 2022. He said that was an ambitious goal and university officials were surprised to see commitments surpass that by nearly 10 percent.
"Our admissions team and our university are celebrating this week, and rightfully so," Troyer said.
A return to fully in-person recruitment events played a big role in the increase of first-year commitments, he added.
"And those are things we simply weren't able to host in similar degrees as we were able to this year," Troyer said. "And in many ways, we were kind of back to normal."
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Commitments to universities like Marquette don't always translate to fall enrollment, said Troyer. There's a term used in admissions circles known as "summer melt" to describe students who commit to enroll but don't follow through in the fall. Troyer said Marquette's typical melt-rate is about 5 percent. But he said other students apply later in the summer, and in recent years, late applicants have made up for "summer melt."
Whether Marquette's early commitments signal a broader trend of increasing freshman enrollment across higher education, Troyer said he isn't sure. He said the school shares enrollment data with other private universities and the results are mixed.
"The truth is, for this cycle, based on what we've seen so far, not every university has bounced back, so to speak," Troyer said. "So, we take a lot of pride in the fact that we've been able to do so."
Marquette's newest incoming class is projected to be more diverse this fall. Of the first-year commitments, 30 percent identified as a student of color. The number of Black students is projected to jump by 32 percent from the fall of 2021. The number of students identifying as Hispanic or Latino is projected to grow by 4 percent.
More than 41 percent of Marquette's freshman class this fall are coming from Illinois, while around 30 percent are from Wisconsin, according to Marquette University data.