The number of college-ready Oregon high school graduates is shrinking, leaving UO searching for ways to maintain in-state enrollment numbers.
According to Roger Thompson, vice president of Student Services and Enrollment, in order to maintain the number of in-state students, the school will need to increase the percentage of in-state college-ready high school graduates that come to UO. Overall, the school hopes to grow the number of students from in state, out of state and from all over the world.
“We focus on our resident students here in Oregon, and we work really hard to recruit the best of our Oregon students, and then we do the same thing for the other 49 states and then also for international students,” said Thompson.
According to Thompson, there has actually been an increase in the number of high school students graduating in the state of Oregon; however, students are deciding not to go to college, or they aren’t ready when they graduate. There has been a dip in students taking college admissions tests in Oregon. Thompson predicts that the number of college-ready students in Oregon will continue to decrease until at least 2022.
This makes the job of college recruiters at UO harder, and in order to achieve their goal of increasing overall enrollment, the school has hired more in- and out-of-state recruiters.
“It has become more difficult because the bottom line is you have a shrinking pie, the number of students going to college is shrinking, [while] the number of colleges recruiting them is actually increasing,” said Thompson.
Thompson credits the issue of college-ready high school graduates from Oregon to two main problems: the decreasing birth rate in the state and low graduation rate. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Oregon’s high school graduation rate is one of the lowest in the country, at only 73.8 percent in 2014-2015.
One way the school can increase overall enrollment is by focusing more on recruiting international students.
Ziyou An is a 21-year-old freshman, and he is one of many international students at the UO. An is from China and is majoring in business. He decided to come to UO after discovering online that the university has a good business school. Despite having to pay $38,442 in tuition and fees, An and his family found the opportunity to attend UO worthwhile.
“You can think of it as an investment for your own future — for your future development — and you can actually reach a different kind of world to build your own knowledge for your future career. I think that’s what it is all about,” said An.
The tuition An and other out-of-state students pay is roughly $28,000 more than that of Oregon residents.
Thompson says that the UO does not consider how much students will pay or are able to pay when deciding who to admit. According to UO spokesman Tobin Klinger, the school makes budgetary decisions based on projected enrollment revenue.
“You don’t have the budget developer saying to Roger ‘go out and get us another 50 students from here because we need to cover costs.’ It’s the opposite,” said Klinger.
Correction: The story has been updated to reflect more recent statistics on Oregon’s high school graduation rates.