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Chico State

Increased Enrollment at Chico State Benefits the Entire Community

A crowd of students walk down the sidewalk at Chico State
(Jason Halley/ University Photographer)

(Editor’s note: this column originally appeared in the Chico Enterprise-Record on September 17, 2023)

This week, Chico State’s Office of the Registrar will conduct the official fall 2023 census where we’ll count and announce the official number of enrolled students at the University. We project to have nearly 14,000 students for the fall 2023 semester. As you probably know, 14,000 is fewer students than we have served in the recent past and we’ve been working extremely hard on a variety of enrollment-boosting measures to stabilize and grow enrollment.

Every single student is important to us, and increased enrollment helps the University achieve its purpose of providing access to a high-quality education and transformative experiences for all our students. Of course, none of this is possible without our extraordinary faculty and staff who work hard every day to support students in their success.

It’s not just the University that benefits from higher enrollment. In a college town like ours, every single student is also important to the community. For the City of Chico, college students are your neighbors, your customers, your employees, your tenants, your youth sports coaches, your student-teachers, your aspiring nurse practitioners, your community volunteers—the list goes on. Many students choose to make their careers and raise their families in our region after graduating. Did you know that more than 30,000 Chico State alumni live in Butte County?

Yes, I know. It takes a little longer to get through the neighborhoods near campus during the academic year, but isn’t that a small inconvenience for the community events, the vibrancy, and the economic power students bring?

Simply put, increasing enrollment at Chico State is beneficial to the City of Chico, Butte County, and our region. I imagine you can see the impact of students on downtown Chico since the beginning of the semester. I know I’ve experienced our students enthusiastically bringing energy to the area in the last few weeks.  Thank you to all the neighbors and businesses who serve and support our students and employees by providing them with a unique college experience.

On campus, we have a saying: “Enrollment is job No. 1 for each and every one of us.”

And, we’ve been doing an excellent job. The 14,000 number is an increase compared to the fall 2022 census and stops a seven-year slide of declining enrollment. Our “first time in college” students are up 8% year over year and transfers are up 40%. In total, we welcomed more than 3,900 new students to campus this fall—that’s a big class. Now we just need to replicate that next year, the year after that, the one after that, and so on.

Our enrollment continuum team has been working hard to keep the momentum going. This team is Chico State’s investment in leaving no stone unturned to increase the pool of potential students, increase the number of students who apply and ultimately attend Chico State, improve retention of our students, and close equity gaps.

Simply put, we want more potential students to become aware that at Chico State they can get an affordable, high-quality college education on a beautiful campus in a charming college town that welcomes them to an incredible region—and we should be their first choice. When they get here, we are committed to welcoming them and ensuring their needs are being met.

Chico and the greater Butte County community are incredibly supportive of our students. You hire them, you entertain them, you support performing arts and athletic contests, and you even remind them about the one-way streets downtown each August. I even noticed my neighbors posted encouraging signs in their yard during the first few weeks of the semester. We are incredibly grateful for all of that.

And, you can help us with our enrollment objectives. For each of you who has a family member, a friend, a student, or an employee who is planning to attend college, please ask them to consider Chico State. You might tell them about the beautiful campus located conveniently in the heart of downtown, the great value of a Chico State degree, and the more than 200 on-campus clubs where everyone can find their community. Or, as a resident of this region, you can simply tell them what makes Chico and Chico State appealing to you.

Applications for fall 2024 open on October 1. We are ready to start working on our next big class and hope you’ll play a part in that. We know you’ll welcome the new students when they arrive. Thank you and go Wildcats!

Steve Perez, Chico State President