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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

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Students in front of Hepner Hall (file photo) Students in front of Hepner Hall (file photo)

SDSU Shows Strength in Numbers

Total enrollment for fall 2020 stands at 35,578, the university's highest figure since 2008.
By Jeff Ristine and Lainie Fraser

With a record-high transfer class for the second year in a row, San Diego State University has recorded its largest fall enrollment in 12 years, with nearly 35,600 students attending the San Diego and Imperial Valley campuses.

SDSU’s fall census, tallied Monday, recorded 35,578 undergraduate and graduate students, an increase of an even 500 from last year. The total includes 4,482 transfer students, the most ever, joining 4,852 first-time freshmen as new Aztecs.

Grace Hurley is a recent transfer student majoring in journalism. Before transferring to SDSU she attended MiraCosta College after departing a four-year university that didn’t feel quite right.

“I got into other four-year universities when I applied for transferring,” said Hurley “but it was never a question that I wanted to go to SDSU. I wanted to go to a school that offered my major which is journalism and that had a nice and fun community of people.”

SDSU President Adela de la Torre said the figures speak both to the resilience of the university’s students and a concerted effort to prepare for a changed environment for teaching. “Our entire faculty, staff and advisers have worked hard to support the shift to a remote environment,” de la Torre said. “Over the course of the summer, we remained in contact with our newly admitted students to make sure they knew we’re here for them, and we could not be more proud to welcome them to SDSU.”

Stefan Hyman, associate vice president for enrollment management, said however that the enrollment gains for SDSU exceed even projections made before the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic became apparent.

SDSU sought to support economically vulnerable students with funding from the federal CARES Act, he added, and to assure incoming students “that we were going to be supporting them through this remote environment, and ensuring that they understood that they would be fundamental parts of the San Diego State community.”

Transfer push

The transfer student total of nearly 4,500 is up from the previous record of 4,146 one year ago and is more than 1,000 students higher than the figure for 2018. It reflects an effort across the California State University system to forge stronger partnerships with community colleges to ensure that students have met general-education requirements and other prerequisites.

“I came home and attended community college where I finished my credits so that I could transfer to SDSU,” said Hurley. “They really helped me prepare and plan out my classes so that I would have a better chance of getting in as a transfer.”

“These students come to SDSU well-prepared to complete their degree requirements and prosper,” said SDSU Provost and Senior Vice President Salvador Hector Ochoa. “Under our new strategic plan, expanding our partnerships through community-college microsites will be an essential tool in supporting the economic and educational development of our region.”

As expected in the continuing impact from COVID-19, SDSU’s international student population is down from 2019, with 1,395 students compared to 1,770 last year. Some applicants who were accepted at SDSU for fall decided to defer their admission to spring 2020 or fall 2021, Hyman said.

The national picture for fall 2020 is not yet completely clear. A preliminary report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, based on data from 629 institutions through Sept. 10, found a 0.4% decline in undergraduate enrollment at public, four-year universities compared with the same time last year, and a 4.7% increase in graduate enrollment.

Across the U.S., international undergraduate student enrollment is down 11 percent, according to the report.