Undergraduate Enrollment Trends on the Wilf Campus
Current data from Yeshiva University’s Office of Institutional Research (OIR) indicates that there are 1,177 currently registered undergraduate male students on-campus. With 323 first time on-campus students (FTOC’s), the Wilf Campus is seeing a positive trend of enrollment growth. In the years after the recent fiscal collapse, enrollment suffered, with on-campus male undergraduates dropping from 1,218 students in Fall 2008 to as low as 1,046 students in 2011. Since that time though, male undergraduate enrollment has made a steady comeback. By Fall 2014 Wilf Campus enrollment was up to 1,111 students, and this semester numbers 1,177 students, the highest enrollment since 2008. If this rate continues, enrollment will soon be back to pre-recession levels.
During the years of decline, when on-campus totals dropped significantly, enrollment at Yeshiva College (YC) actually slightly increased, from 736 students in 2008 to 752 students in 2011. The major loss was incurred by the Syms School of Business (SSB), dropping from 482 students in 2008 to only 294 students in 2011. In 2011, under 30% of male undergraduates were registered in SSB. But since 2011 there has been a major shift. By Fall 2014 YC was down to 648 students, while SSB was up to 463 students (over 40% of total male undergraduate enrollment). Although the data for the current semester is only preliminary and will change in the next few weeks, there are currently 538 students, or 46% of total male undergraduates, registered for SSB. Yeshiva College enrollment is down to 635 students, or 54% of total male undergraduates.
Another significant trend is enrollment in Yeshiva College honors courses. In 1999 there were only 110 students on Wilf Campus enrolled in one or more honors courses. Even by 2008 there were only 237 students, or less than 20% of male undergraduates, enrolled in honors courses. Over the past few years this number has risen tremendously. The current Fall 2015 semester has 411 students, or 35% of male undergraduates, enrolled in at least one honors course. This large increase in honors enrollment has occurred mostly under the auspices of Professor Gabriel Cwilich, director of the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program.
“The fact that we are recruiting larger classes than we are graduating is why the on-campus number is larger,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, Vice President for University and Community Life. Rabbi Brander added that “the average GPA score of the incoming class this year is 90.5 for YC and 88.5 for SSB. We are accepting very strong students to the Wilf Campus and have not compromised on the academics.”
When asked about significant enrollment trends, Rabbi Brander points out that “in some of our key feeder schools the class size in the past two years has dropped between 7 and 33% and only a few have grown.” While he would not release more information about these feeder schools, several local high schools’ college guidance departments had what to add. Dr. Gary Katz, Director of College Guidance at Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC), informed that “Yeshiva University enrollment from TABC has gone down from over 70% a few years ago to less than 50% in the class of 2015.” Mrs. Laura Miller of The Frisch School provided that over the past four years, matriculation from Frisch into YU/Stern has remained steady (between 16 and 23 students each year). Mr. Rafael Blumenthal of The Ramaz School noted similarly that “in looking at our recent graduating classes, I can summarize and tell you that we haven’t noticed a drop off in the Ramaz enrollment to YU.” And according Mr. Murray Sragow, “as far as MTA (Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy) is concerned, we are proud of the fact that year in and year out a higher percentage of our seniors apply to YU than those of any other high school. Not only that, but I believe this is true throughout our student population, from the ones who can get in anywhere to the ones who get rejected by YU. And as far as applications go, our numbers have been pretty consistent. Our class sizes have been inconsistent, but the percentage has been almost exactly 80% each of the last five years.”
Some indicated that major feeder schools’ matriculation to YU may be down due to financial difficulties. “We have an extraordinarily large number of students who attend YU,” said Mrs. Madeline Rosenberg of Davis Renov Stahler Yeshiva High School for Boys (DRS). “Our relationship with YU remains warm, supportive, and encouraging. If the numbers have gone down, then my guess is the reason is probably economic. This not a scientific opinion but rather my perception, as director of college guidance.”
“Over the past two years our Net Tuition Revenue has gone up,” said Rabbi Brander in discussing how Yeshiva University is attempting to affect enrollment trends, “which is different than the trend seen in other private colleges. We are still giving in excess of $46 million in scholarship. We have worked very hard to make sure that the amount of need-based aid we give out is appropriate. However, people who are trying to make financial deals when they report that they have the funds to pay for university are not getting special deals. Yet we are careful and aggressively helping students that have need. Of course we continue to offer merit aid to our stronger academic students.”
Yet despite this apparent decline in matriculation from some top feeder schools, the data shows that male undergraduate enrollment is on a healthy climb. Provost Selma Botman positively remarked that “we are delighted with the class of students enrolling at the university.”
Going forward, Rabbi Brander suggested that there are initiatives being made to continue the current enrollment trends. “We have not focused on the Anglo populations in the UK or Australia or the South American community – this includes the student from these countries/regions studying in Israel as well as students in their high schools. Our goal is to reach out more effectively to this population.”