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Tuesday October 19th

UNC System sees record enrollment for third year in a row

Students walk through Polk Place, or the quad, past Wilson Library on Sunday, June 7, 2020.
Buy Photos Students walk through Polk Place, or the quad, past Wilson Library on Sunday, June 7, 2020.

Schools in the UNC System had a record-setting 242,464 students enroll this fall, marking their third consecutive year of record-breaking enrollment, according to a press release from the UNC System. 

This marks a 1 percent increase from enrollment numbers in 2019 — amounting to 2,483 more students this year. 

"It’s a remarkable achievement, and it reflects the determination of our students, the dedication of our faculty and staff, and the enduring value of public higher education,” UNC System President Peter Hans said in the press release. “Every one of those students is making a critical investment in their own future and in the future of our state.”

UNC-Chapel Hill, along with seven other public state institutions, also experienced overall record enrollment, welcoming 30,092 students. In addition, UNC was one of four universities that received their largest class of new transfer students.

“(UNC) is growing at a somewhat steady rate, and I think that’s a good thing because it’s allowing us to make sure that the University can still provide the same, great experience for students, even if we are adding to undergraduate enrollment,” Michael Davis, associate director for admissions for UNC-Chapel Hill, said. 

Davis said this year’s rise in enrollment was due in part to the creation of Carolina Away, a virtual program for incoming students.

“I think it was important not only because it increases that opportunity for students to do so, but because it sends the message that we value each member of the UNC community and that we want each member of the community to be involved, even though we aren’t able physically be together," Davis said.

A different first-year experience

First-year Stephanie Pierson, a history major from Macon, Georgia, started her UNC experience on-campus. But after the University made the decision move classes online, she, like many of her peers, returned home. 

Though Pierson said that online school is far from ideal, she has no regrets about her decision to attend UNC. 

“Now that I think about it, I absolutely enjoyed my two weeks on campus; I loved the people, I loved the professors, I loved the environment and I even loved the campus even without everyone there,” Pierson said. “And so I figured, if I enjoyed my two weeks there when life was as far from normal as it could have been, then I know I’m going to love it just as much, probably even more, once when we get to come back.” 

First-year Ronik Grewal, an information sciences major from Raleigh, agreed.

“It’s weird — I don’t have anything to compare to, unlike how a lot of the upperclassmen do,” Grewal said. “A lot of people would talk about how they thought the campus felt like a ghost town during the one week we were there for class, but I honestly thought it was really fun.”

Looking ahead

In terms of next year’s enrollment, Davis said the admissions department does not think the pandemic will impact the future class of 2025.

“Next year, we are certainly going to continue trying to attract and recruit incredible students that will help us achieve the type of diversity and inclusive community that we aspire to build,” Davis said. “Luckily, because we did not have a huge number of students choose to defer enrollment this year, we do not foresee anything from this class impacting future classes, which is something that I think high school students and teachers are afraid of.”

Within the next week, the Undergraduate Admissions Office will be releasing an in-depth profile about the class of 2024, Davis said. In pulling information from surveys and applications, they have outlined not only the demographics of UNC’s largest incoming class, but also students’ individual journeys. 

“I really like the class profile because it takes a lot of numbers and a lot of data and tries to tell the stories of the people who are a part of Carolina,” Davis said.

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