Hundreds of new students sitting in seats and bcleahers in gym

New academic year brings most diverse incoming class and increase in first-year students

September 11, 2023
By: Deborah Alvarez O'Neil

This fall, Worcester State welcomed its most diverse incoming student class and saw a significant rebound in first-year student enrollment.

Some 44 percent of the incoming class of 1,284 transfer and first-year students identifies as ALANA/BIPOC (African, Latine, Asian, Native American and/or Black, Indigenous, People of Color), a 22 percent increase from last year. The students hail from 23 states and six countries and half of them are the first in their families to attend college. Vice President for Enrollment Ryan Forsythe attributes the growth in ALANA/BIPOC students to changing demographics in the state, as well as the university’s efforts through the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the AID program and the Intensive English Language Institute, among others.

“Worcester State as a whole has been working hard to foster a welcoming and inclusive campus environment, and we’ve made sure that prospective students know that as they are considering their college options,” said Forsythe. “I believe that for many students our message that ‘You belong here’ has an impact.”

The pandemic brought a two-year downturn in college enrollment at Worcester State and many schools across the country. With this fall’s incoming class, the university is seeing the trend continue to improve. This fall’s first-year student enrollment of 938 students represents the university’s second largest first-year class, a boost from last year’s fall enrollment of 825 students. 

Dean of Enrollment and Director of Admissions Joseph DiCarlo noted that this year’s incoming class finished their junior and senior years in person, after the years of COVID remote learning. They were able to come to campus, take tours, and meet with university representatives. In addition, the Admissions team was on the road and able to visit these students in their high schools. 

“I think what we are seeing is our return to enrollment stability as students emerge from the COVID years and are increasingly more engaged and optimistic about college,” DiCarlo said.

Forsythe said fall enrollment is encouraging as the university continues to try to close the pandemic-era drop in enrollment. “We aren’t there yet; however, we have begun the journey back to optimal overall university enrollment.”

Top photo: Worcester States class of incoming students at Fall Convocation. Photo by Deborah Alvarez ONeil.


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