Enrollment Trends, Spring 2015

I have finished compiling the official enrollment figures for the Spring 2015 trimester and have created a graph to summarize the results.


I have spent some time considering how I should characterize these latest figures without over-editorializing. I am sad to say I have not been all that successful in that regard, so I am left with a bit of disappointment at these results. Our current headcount represents an 8% decline from last spring’s numbers. This decline is relatively small, but when put into the context of the past few years it seems to add up. For instance, our currently enrollment figures are a 15% decrease from our 5-year running average and 26% lower than our 10-year running average. Any way you slice it, our student population has shrunk over time and that means that fewer people get to experience a community I have come to value.

I am not currently able to speak to the potential causes for these enrollment trends. Though I could likely speculate on a wide number of factors, about all I can say with any confidence is that change is about the only constant in the human experience. However, what I can do is offer just a bit more detail about the nature of the changes to the USAO student body over time.


First off, I know that the correct demographic term for this variable is “sex” as opposed to gender. However, the correct term sounds a bit out of place in this type of report and further I am not entirely certain that what I report is actually sex. At any rate, it looks like our gender demographics are relatively unchanged. At the moment, our student body is about 64% percent female. While this proportion changes a bit year over year, the longer term pattern reveals little change. In other words, while we have lost plenty of both over the years, we have lost each gender at about the same rate.


Other Demographic Variables

By contrast to this relative stability in gender demographics, the racial/ethnic/cultural composition of the USAO student body does seem to be changing steadily. Over the past ten years, enrollments have decreased the most among Caucasian and African American students (-35% and -24% respectively). In fact, enrollments have only grown for two categories of students. USAO currently enrolls about 6% more Latino students on average than it has over the past 10 years, while the international student category boasts a dramatic 64% increase in the same time period.


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