Pacific University’s College of Arts and Sciences new academic year brought in promising preliminary student body numbers. As of Aug. 27 the university unofficially reported to have gained 427 new first-year students. That is compared to a ultimate enrollment high in July of 451 and a determined budget target of 428.

While the school experienced a greater than average summer “melt,” the phenomenon of future university students’ motivation to attend university “melting” away during the summer between the end of high school and beginning of college, it has so far maintained its projected budget targets for enrollment.

Of course new first year students are not the only ones to thank for keeping the school on track toward its anticipated budget target. Pacific has been presented, along with other neighboring universities, the opportunity to pick up many new transfer students. Many more than normal.

The collapse of two neighboring schools for higher learning played a part in Pacific’s 2018-19 numbers. The Portland Art Institute is closing its doors after a hard year fraught with comparatively low retention rates and ownership issues. Marylhurst University felt these same strains of low student enrollment amongst its primarily older student body, closing as well.

These university closures enabled Pacific’s transfer student numbers to exceed well above what was expected. Late August’s preliminary attendance had Pacific welcoming 148 new transfer students after a high of 150, compared to its budget target of just 91. The shutdown of other Oregon universities unfortunately but inarguably disrupts the entire state’s higher arts education. However, Pacific may now be able to present students who felt these closure effects with the necessary transition.

With overall positive early enrollment numbers, the university is still looking to improve their summer “melt” rate for following years. A better understanding and response to such a phenomenon will most likely come after final student numbers have been reported and can be broken down further.

Official student enrollment will be determined by the universities Census Date during the week of Sept. 10 through Sept. 14. Enrollments are expected to fluctuate slightly before then, while students settle in for the academic year.


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