UTEP officials are encouraged by their student retention numbers during this pandemic even as their overall Fall enrollment has dropped by slightly over 1% when compared to the Fall semester of 2019.

When taking everything that has been going on into consideration, I’m sure there were uncertainties as to just how many students would either enroll at UTEP initially or come back to continue their coursework.  To its credit, UTEP pivoted to providing a mostly online experience in order to alleviate some of the stress of having students in close proximity.  While I myself tended to prefer in-person instruction when I was in college, I did have to complete my degree by taking classes almost exclusively online and can attest that if done right, it can be an engaging experience.  Also let’s not forget that most university students tend to be self-starters and the transition to remote poses less of a challenge for them that it would for all those poor students in elementary and secondary school grade levels.

When analyzing the drop in enrollment, UTEP felt confident that it is due almost exclusively to first year freshmen who have opted to delay the start of their college education during the COVID-19 pandemic.  School officials were able to identify approximately 450 of these students.

As a word of caution to these students, sometimes it’s difficult to get back in the saddle once you take a break from education, even if for valid reasons.  My “one semester off” turned into an educational odyssey that spanned nearly 16 years from the time I graduated high school to when I finally was able to earn my degree.  I’d suggest that these students enroll in at least one online class somewhere to at least begin chipping away at the hours and credits needed towards their degree.

As for the rest of the student population, the sophomore, junior, and senior class at UTEP all saw at least a 3% increase in returning students.  Now if UTEP can just do something about those outrageous parking permit fees….

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