Most private colleges throughout the state and nation are experiencing declining enrollment figures, but Silver Lake College is bucking that trend.
Manitowoc County’s only four-year institution of higher learning announced that, as of the 10th day of classes, it has a fall enrollment of 515 degree-seeking students, including 215 full-time undergraduates — a 9 percent increase from last September.
In addition, the college expects to enroll about 550 part-time, non-degree-seeking students this academic year.
“Silver Lake College is attractive to students because we have small class sizes, can provide one-on-one attention and we offer a value-centered experience, plus we’re affordable,” said Dr. Chris E. Domes, in his second year as SLC President. “Students and their families are looking at all the good things we’re doing and saying, ‘This is where I want to go to school.’ We have a good message, and it’s resonating with students.”
Of those 215 full-time undergraduates, 46 are new, full-time freshmen — 39 of whom live in Clare Hall, the campus dorm. Overall, the campus has 110 residential students, a 4 percent increase from last year.
“The college continues its transition to a more residential campus,” Domes said. “Not only are we seeing more students living on campus, but we’re continuing to create opportunities for transfer students to easily transition into the college. And the college is continuing to do outreach and develop our graduate offerings not only here but throughout the state.”
In addition to its full-time undergraduate students, Silver Lake College announced that its fall enrollment numbers include 170 part-time undergraduates, 70 full-time graduates, and 60 part-time graduates.
Jamie Grant, Silver Lake College’s Executive Director of Enrollment Management, said the college takes a hands-on approach with students.
“Many of our students are first generation, so we’re helping them by traveling and having admissions advising sessions at libraries and schools and whatever locations work best for each student,” Grant said. “If they can’t come to us, we’re happy to go to them. We’re even picking them up and bringing them to campus to see all the things we have to offer.
“Basically, we’re making the college more accessible to them. That’s unique, and it shows how much we care.”
Grant said the college received 376 applications for the fall semester, a 119 percent boost from last year. And the total number of accepted applications for freshmen this fall is 147, a 77 percent leap from last year.
In addition to higher enrollment and application figures, the campus itself is continuing to grow.
Silver Lake College unveiled its Franciscan Center for Music Education and Performance last fall, and it’s currently undergoing renovations that will see the creation of a Welcome Center, coffee shop and cafe, and revamped Heritage Room within the next few weeks.
Also, this summer the college upgraded its cafeteria into a multi-station Dining Hall.