Myers: K-State at a 5-year high for admissions

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AJ Dome, The Manhattan Mercury, Kan.
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Feb. 19—K-State admissions and applications are up for fall 2021, K-State President Richard Myers said this week.

Myers said the university is seeing the highest number of admitted students to all KSU campuses in five years at 9,170 for the fall 2021 semester. The number of undergraduate freshman admissions has increased 16.5% since 2017, while the combined number of graduate and undergrad students is up by 11.3% since 2017.

"The thing to keep in mind is, admits does not mean a student is coming to Kansas State University," Myers said. "They're admitted, then they have to make the decision, then they have to write the check."

Myers said this is a good trend for the university.

Admissions for freshmen registered in-state are up 0.5% at 4,362 for fall 2021, compared to 4,342 for the fall 2020 semester — while out-of-state freshman admissions are up by 14.6% from the previous year, from 3,337 admitted for fall 2020 to 3,825 for fall 2021, respectively.

K-State's enrollment has declined since reaching a peak of 24,766 students in the fall of 2014. Since that time, K-State has dropped 15.8% or 3,912 students.

"Whether people attend K-State next fall or not I think will have a lot to do with where we are in the pandemic," Myers said during a meeting of the Kansas Board of Regents on Wednesday.

He said most university officials are "being very positive" that K-State and the surrounding community can return to a more normal situation for the fall 2021 semester.

"We have to make up for that difference for students who can't access campus for visits," Myers said.

Myers told the board bringing prospective students to visit campus is a "big part" of the university's strategy — made even more difficult by the pandemic.

"If we can get them here, we can usually get them to sign up," Myers said. "When it has to be done virtually, then we have to make our virtual experiences as rich and rewarding and informational as we can."

K-State is offering bi-weekly virtual visits along with reducing the number of in-person visitors to maintain physical distancing. Myers said the university had to "essentially rebuild" their entire IT infrastructure to serve students they were trying to attract. He said the university has also expanded its social media efforts and coordinated purchases for digital media advertising to reach more people.

COVID INITIATIVES

Myers' presentation to the board also focused on the university's approach to mitigating COVID-19. He said K-State health officials have given out more than 22,000 tests, and the overall rate of positive test results was 7.32%.

"We started off the first week in January with a 10.25% positive rate, and that's not good," Myers said. "Anything above 5% is community spread, not a good thing."

For the week of Feb. 12, the positive test rate on campus was 1.79%, with Myers taking note of that decline. For the same week, the university had 107 students in quarantine and 39 in isolation at both the Manhattan and Salina campuses. Myers told the board the university has ramped up its asymptomatic testing efforts, alternating testing sites between Kramer Dining Center, the recreation center, Derby Dining Hall, and the Student Union throughout the week.

"We're trying to go where students are and get asymptomatic testing so we can keep track, to see what's happening with our students," Myers said.

Myers said, even though COVID-19 cases are decreasing, the university is emphasizing those coronavirus protocols intended to keep students, faculty and staff safe.

"We've been fortunate here in Manhattan and in Salina, to have good cooperation between campus and our communities, both cities and counties," Myers said. "It helps keep us safe here on campus and helps keep campus from being a super-spreader site for the rest of the community."

Scholarship deadlines have also been extended to March 15. The previous deadline was Dec. 1. The Board of Regents also approved a "Missouri Match" to offer in-state tuition to freshmen and transfer students from Missouri. Myers told the Regents the university's efforts to manage and help enrollment rebound are "seeing good signs" of turning that around with new freshmen and transfers.

"COVID-19 was going to keep this a dicey game, but we're willing to play that game, and we think we're handling things the very best we can," Myers said.