Despite the challenges and uncertainties presented by the international COVID-19 pandemic over the past six months, as of the close of its registration period Edward Waters College’s (EWC) Fall 2020 enrollment has grown to 968 total students which represents a nearly 4% overall enrollment increase from Fall 2019 and ties the highest headcount enrollment the College has seen in over fifteen years.
“As a Christian and African-Methodist Episcopal (AME) faith-based institution, we earnestly believe that our steps are ordered by God and that every good gift comes from the Lord,” said Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr., EWC President & CEO. “We are especially grateful for our students and their families who made Edward Waters College their higher educational institution of choice. In the midst of this incredibly calamitous pandemic our committed senior administrative and enrollment management team, staff, and faculty worked diligently in redoubling their supportive efforts and they along with our donors and friends truly provided us with the difference-making support needed for us to experience this extremely positive enrollment outcome for EWC.”
Strengthened in part by its new hashtag themed student support initiative titled, “#WeGotYou,” which was primarily aimed at increasing student retention and promoting student persistence this fall, EWC was able to buttress its overall enrollment by providing a total of 400 students with nearly $2 million dollars in additional financial support towards satisfying their Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semester charges which included tuition and fees, room and board, and activity fees. Relatedly, in 2019 97% of EWC’s students received some form of financial aid with 88% of the College’s student body being Federal Pell Grant recipients which are federally slated to assist low-resource and low-income students. As such, the additional financial support provided by EWC to its students was essential in the College’s overall enrollment growth efforts.
“During this pandemic we knew we had to engage with our current and potential new students in a very different way if we hoped to achieve enrollment growth,” said Dr. Jennifer Price, Vice President for Enrollment Management & Strategic Matriculant Services.
“As a result, we took very deliberate actions to enhance our customer service, communications, and enrollment strategies, and better adapt them to a virtual format,” Dr. Price said. “Overall, this really allowed us to move our students through the enrollment process much more effectively and efficiently. It was truly an “all hands-on-deck” effort from all of the college’s units and departments.”
Towards that end, the College experienced a banner year in its recruitment of new EWC students with over 400 new students enrolled at the institution for the fall semester while simultaneously making significant progress towards supporting the persistence of returning students as the College retained 82.6% of its eligible returning students.
Relatedly, the College’s innovative new partnership with Follett Higher Education Group which provided every first-time in college full-time new EWC student with their own new Chromebook laptop computer was essential in the institution’s recruitment efforts especially as it sought to comprehensively facilitate the implementation of heightened virtual and distance student learning in the current COVID-19 environment.
In addition, as part of its COVID-19 reopening plan, the College placed a strong emphasis on encouraging its new students to enroll and attend classes via on-line and face-to-face/hybrid instruction modality platforms as the College continues to observe and facilitate physical and social distancing campus wide to curb the spread of the virus.
Accordingly, all on campus housing at EWC has been reduced by 50% in an effort to achieve a single-room occupancy only environment for students residing in on-campus residence facilities. Lastly, the College continues to require all students, faculty, staff, and visitors to wear face masks at all times while physically present on the campus and the institution remains fully adherent to all CDC guidelines and recommendations with regard to COVID-19 prevention and response protocols as outlined in its comprehensive resumption of on-campus operations plan for students, faculty, staff which can be found on our EWC COVID-19 Response Center website at https://www.ewc.edu/covid/.