By: Mitch Goulson  | 

YU Undergraduate Fall 2020 Enrollment Numbers Remain Steady Despite COVID-19

For the Fall 2020 semester, the Yeshiva University undergraduate population stands at 2,017 students (full-time and part-time). Compared to Spring 2020 figures, this represents a loss of 11 students. This figure comes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Enrollment in the Sy Syms School of Business (SSSB) decreased from 722 students to 670, a 7% decrease from the spring semester. The Wilf Campus lost 23 SSSB students (540 to 517) and the Beren campus lost 29 SSSB students (182 to 153). The largest gain in students came from Yeshiva College (YC), which added 16 students (496 to 512) for a gain of 3%. Stern College for Women (SCW), which has been steadily declining over the last few years, surprisingly gained eight students (758 to 766). The Katz School Associate Degree Program saw a massive gain in enrollment with a 33% increase of new students, 12 men (32 to 44) and 5 women (20 to 25).

Enrollment in the Undergraduate Torah Studies (UTS) program increased overall from Spring 2020, with an increase of 25 students (1048 to 1073), or 2%. The Mazer Yeshiva Program (MYP) gained 17 students (464 to 481), an increase of about 4%; the Stone Beit Midrash Program (SBMP) gained 27 students (270 to 297), an increase of 10%; and James Striar School (JSS) gained 2 students (122 to 124), an increase of 1.6%. The only decrease in enrollment among morning programs occurred in Isaac Breuer College (IBC), where enrolled students decreased by roughly 10% (192 to 171).

Since Fall 2008, when the YU undergraduate population stood at 2,318 students, enrollment numbers have been slowly declining. Fall 2020 marks the twelfth consecutive fall semester YU has failed to enroll at least 2,300 undergraduate students. In fact, SSSB Men is the only school with a current enrollment higher than that of Fall 2008.

Enrollment among SSSB Men has remained mostly consistent since Fall 2015, not rising above 540 students nor falling below 517 during that time frame. SSSB Women, on the other hand, has been slowly rising; after falling to 90 in Fall 2012, the school peaked in Spring 2020 to 179 students. This indicates that their Fall 2020 loss of 29 students, or 16%, may be an outlier.

SCW bucked their trend of negative enrollment numbers. Previously at 952 enrolled students back in Fall 2012, the school’s enrollment had lagged in recent years, falling to 758 in Spring 2020, its lowest point since prior to Fall 2008. Among fall semesters, its gain of 3 students from Fall 2019-Fall 2020 represented its first gain in enrollment since Fall 2011-Fall 2012, when it gained 57 students.

YC’s 3% gain in enrollment marked the school’s first gain in enrollment since Fall 2010, and its largest total undergraduate student population since Fall 2017. After reaching 754 enrolled students in Fall 2010, the school had lost an average of 32 students during the following nine fall semesters. Fall 2020’s gain was a welcome surprise.

YU’s slight dip in undergraduate enrollment fell in line with data from Inside Higher Ed regarding economic impact on enrollment (IHE). An organization devoted to delivering and analyzing higher education news, IHE found that “[In Fall 2020,] Undergraduate enrollments declined for both full-time and part-time students… At private nonprofit colleges, the number of full-time students declined by 3.7 percent.” Despite this, YU managed to withstand the current negative economic trends of enrollment, only losing 11 students overall.

YU’s Acting Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Marc Zharnest, gave credit to his team for keeping enrollment strong in the wake of COVID-19. “There is no book on how to recruit in the midst of a pandemic, but we have adapted to both maintain and increase our outreach in the virtual world. We have increased programming, added a virtual tour, and have continued to look for opportunities to meet with our students and prospective students,” said Zharnest. “Due to the resilience of our amazing recruitment team that we have in place both here and in Israel, our applications have continued to grow over the past cycles. There is no doubt that this is a culmination of the leadership of my predecessor Geri Mansdorf, along with the dedication of the team in Israel, our faculty, and staff to ensure that our students had the opportunity to learn both on campus and virtually.”

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Yeshiva University managed to maintain their part-time and full-time undergraduate student enrollment, only decreasing by 11 students overall. The administrators’ diligence and persistence in reopening the school currently looks particularly astute, at least in terms of undergraduate enrollment.

Photo Caption: The total undergraduate population from Spring to Fall 2020.
Photo Credit: The Commentator