Note from Members: Institutions that Surpassed Enrollment Goals in Fall 2023

With so many reports about the challenges of independent colleges, CIC would like to highlight a sampling of member institutions that shared with us that they surpassed their enrollment goals. There is innovation in our sector and successes to celebrate, and we are pleased to pass on some great examples that were sent to us.

If you have important or exciting news to share about your institution, please email Allison Crean, CIC editorial content specialist, at to be considered for an upcoming newsletter article.

Eastern University

Total enrollment at Eastern University (PA) has doubled over the last four years. From Fall 2019 to Fall 2023, enrollment counts on the first day of classes grew from 3,059 students to 6,112.

“It is a great joy to welcome so many new students into the Eastern community,” shared President Ron Matthews. “Each of our students has unique talents, passion, and purpose. We are honored and privileged to journey alongside them and help equip them with the knowledge, training, experiences, and credentials they need to achieve their dreams and goals.”

One of the reasons behind this growth is Eastern’s innovative online LifeFlex programs, which feature fully online, flexibly paced modalities with affordable tuition. Eastern’s LifeFlex programs currently include an MBA, MSW, MS in data science, as well as seven undergraduate programs in business, education, psychology, and liberal arts. Graduate programs in education also make up a large portion of Easten’s growing student body. Eastern offers eight Master of Education programs and 25 certification programs, with convenient online classes that make it a popular choice for teachers and school professionals.

At the traditional undergraduate level, new athletic programs have been one key reason for the increase since 2019. Eastern has added new football, cheer, dance, and esports teams over the last several years, as well as recently announcing plans for a marching band that will begin next year, starting with a pep band and drumline this fall. Long-standing athletic teams and extracurricular Fine Arts programs have also experienced increased participation.

seven students standing outside on campus

Hiram College

Hiram College (OH) has exceeded its 2023–2024 enrollment goal, with 255 incoming undergraduate students following the Fall 2023 census count. The number of students surpassed the college’s goal by 10 percent and demonstrated a 15 percent increase in first-year enrollment from the 2022–2023 academic year. 

“The team at Hiram has worked tirelessly this recruitment cycle, and I am incredibly proud of the collaboration between the enrollment offices and the rest of the faculty, staff, coaches, and alumni to make these exceptional results possible,” said Andrea Welch, vice president for enrollment management and marketing. “It’s a true testament to the strong strategic recruitment and marketing strategy that the team put together, coupled with a focus on affordability, data-informed decisions, and a student-centered approach.” 

The exceeded goal marks the culmination of various positive trends for the college, including inquiries, visits, and applications growing steadily, with an increase in admits by 18.5 percent over 2022. Hiram also saw the highest number of transfer students since fall 2018, with a 12 percent increase over last year. Over the course of the year, the number of campus visits increased by 22 percent with 2,355 visitors both in-person and virtually, and Hiram faculty met individually with prospective students interested in their area of study. 

As part of Hiram’s strategic enrollment management approach, the college has placed specific focus on student financial services. With that, Hiram is intentionally aligning student financial aid packages based on student needs, and working individually with each student to ensure that they have the right financial plan. Every family approaches college with differing financial needs, but the college is proud to report that 100 percent of full-time on-campus students receive financial aid, including transfer students. 

seven students pose outside on a bench

Culver-Stockton College

Culver-Stockton College (MO), a private liberal arts college offering 80 major and minor tracks, welcomed more students to campus than in recent years: This year’s incoming class brought in 356 students compared to 331 one year earlier.

President Lauren Schellenberger said the campus was buzzing with excitement, “Culver-Stockton College continues to be the premier place for students of promise to receive an excellent education, and we are proud to welcome this class to ‘the Hill.’ As the number one college in Missouri for getting a job after graduation, we are proud they trust us to provide the experiences and education needed for their future success.”

This year, new students experienced Wildcat Welcome, a three-day program designed to orient students to campus by helping them meet new people, learn the traditions of the 170-year institution, and acclimate within the supportive learning environment. During the first eight days on campus, students met their living and learning communities, completed matriculation, participated in service learning, enjoyed many student life activities, attended their first all-college convocation, and completed their first week of courses.

Several other factors contributed to the 7.55 percent increase in new undergraduate enrollment, including the ability for admission counselors to travel, strengthened relationships with area high schools, alumni and legacy relations, and an increase in transfer students from nearby schools.

large group of students and faculty standing outside on a hill

Trine University

For the second year in a row, Trine University (IN) has experienced an increase of more than 50 percent in its official fall enrollment numbers.

Trine has 12,711 students enrolled throughout its campuses, education centers and online, compared to 8,446 recorded in the Fall 2022 headcount and 5,392 in Fall 2021. The university enrolled a record 2,425 students at its Angola campus this fall, including a record class of more than 750 new students. Trine also retained more than 85 percent of its Fall 2022 freshman class.

“Trine University’s academic programs are designed to equip students with the skills they need to succeed, lead and serve. Our continued growth demonstrates that we are doing just that,” said John Shannon, Trine University president. “We look forward to continued expansion by meeting the needs of our students as well as business and industry.”

The total also includes more than 7,500 hybrid students enrolled in graduate programs in Detroit and Phoenix. Trine will further expand those programs with the opening of an education center in Reston, Virginia, in October.

students walking through campus

Wilson College

Wilson College (PA) announced that it reached the second highest total enrollment in its history, with 1,555 enrolled students at the Fall 2023 Census. The figure represents a 14 percent increase over Fall 2022 enrollment and the highest enrollment since before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We are delighted that an increased number of students will receive a transformative Wilson College education,” President Wes Fugate said. “Students and their families are responding to the College’s focus on affordability while delivering a career-oriented education with a strong liberal arts foundation to ensure that our graduates can navigate the ever-changing world—truly the best of both worlds. We are proud to deliver that education to students from all over the world as a result of our programs in Chambersburg, at various sites around Pennsylvania, and through our robust online offerings.”   

Four populations of students contributed to this positive uptick in total enrollment year over year. New first-time-in-college, traditional-age undergraduates increased by 32 percent compared to Fall 2022. In addition, the Teacher Certification Program saw an increase of 66 students, followed by a net increase of 34 Wilson College Online graduate degree seekers and 12 non-degree high school/dual enrollment students.