KOKOMO, Ind. — Indiana University Kokomo continues to grow its student body with record-breaking numbers this fall semester, after shifting to virtual orientations and enrollment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The admissions and academic advising offices rose to the challenge, training admissions and student affairs professionals to walk students through the advising and enrollment process online, and working countless hours to help potential students participate in virtual visits as they made their decision.
“Given the circumstances, what we were able to pull off was pretty remarkable, considering that we had to change everything we did,” said Angela Siders, director of admissions. “We had to pivot on a dime, to figure out how we could meet with all of these students virtually.”
Classes began August 24 with 3,227 students on campus, an increase of 2 percent from fall 2019. Those students account for 39,628 credit hours, up 2.6 percent from the previous year. They include 2,830 undergraduates, an increase of 2.8 percent over 2019, and 172 graduate students — up 8.9 percent.
The incoming class of 828 students represents 70 of Indiana’s 92 counties, 20 states, and 34 countries.
Siders said when the campus closed because of the pandemic, there were hundreds of students already registered to attend in-person orientation in April to meet with an academic advisor and register for classes. A team was assembled to walk students through orientation and then enrollment via Zoom meetings.
“We worked with a lot of students who had to make last-minute decisions, because their initial plans no longer made sense for them for a variety of reasons,” Siders said. “We had to be flexible and keep helping students enroll, right up through the first week of classes.”
She praised the tenacity not only the admissions and academic advising teams, but of the students who persisted through the enrollment process.
“I give huge kudos to the incoming class of 2020,” she said. “Their spring was turned upside down, and they could have easily waved the white flag and waited a year to go through an easier process. They were tenacious, they did what we asked of them, and completed the enrollment process.”
Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke was pleased so many students chose to start or continue their education at IU Kokomo, noting that the campus embraced IU President Michael A. McRobbie’s challenge to return to classes in person as safely as possible.
“I have met so many students on campus, and they all have shared how happy they are to be here because they prefer learning and interacting in person,” Sciame-Giesecke said. “IU Kokomo is more than 3,000 students strong, and that allows us to provide in-person classes while physically distanced.”
She noted that 250 classes are being taught fully in person, with many others in a hybrid format, alternating between face-to-face and Zoom. About 150 students are enrolled in an online only program for the semester.
She also commended the growing diversity of the student body, with a 33.3 percent in African-American students, 23.2 percent in Latino/Hispanic, and 27.3 percent increase in Asian students.
“It is important that we continue to be an inclusive campus, where all students can realize their dreams of a college degree,” she said. “We’ve launched a new multicultural center this semester, with specialized resources to help those students succeed.”