A recent report by the university indicates Boise State’s overall student enrollment declined by about 3 percent from last year, dropping from 22,678 to 22,003.
According to Greg Hahn, Boise State associate vice president for Communication and Marketing, these numbers indicate fewer students are registering for part-time workloads and a majority of enrollees are looking to put in four years and obtain a degree.
“The enrollment drop is in freshmen and sophomores, but we are actually up in enrollment for juniors and seniors,” Hahn said.
Hahn said the increase in junior and senior students indicates that transferring to Boise State from one of Idaho’s two-year colleges is a popular pathway for students seeking a bachelor degree.
“This whole College of Western Idaho (CWI) thing is working,” Hahn said. “If you sum up the relationship between CWI and Boise State, access to the university for those looking to go beyond an associate degree is greater than ever.”
With the high amount of transfer students enrolling at Boise State, Hahn said the university can begin a shift to focusing on higher division courses and students.
“Back before CWI, freshmen and sophomores were a huge percentage of the student body, but now it’s a little more evened out,” Hahn said.
With the increased focus on upper-division courses on campus, finding the money to hire adequate staff will come as a challenge to Boise State as it comes to rely less on state and federal funding.
“A lot of freshmen and sophomores in the past were obtaining associate degrees as well as bachelor’s degrees and all the pressure was on those 100 and 200 level courses,” Hahn said.
According to Hahn finding more experienced professors to teach upper-division classes means finding ways to bring in more money, an issue Hahn and Boise State officials hope to partially address with the Idaho State Legislature this spring.
“If you come into Boise State and join the Finish in Four program, we will make sure you get your degree on time and we are going after the state legislature to reinforce that,” Hahn said.
Hahn said the university’s shift toward research can leave holes in upper-division teaching as professors take sabbatical leaves to complete work.
Many upper-division professors are more expensive to hire, forcing the university to look for the extra financing to do so.
“It is more expensive to teach a senior than it is to teach a freshman because the expertise is pretty great,” Hahn said.
According to Hahn, the university has been looking to team up with local businesses and industry to convince the state legislature to consider more funding.
“We are reaching out to computer science companies to say, ‘Help us with this expansion and we will go to the state legislature together,’” Hahn said.