SPU enrollment stabilizes

2022 incoming freshman class about the same size as last year

Courtesy of the Office of Enrollment

Seattle Pacific University has projected the same number of incoming freshmen for the fall of 2022 as the fall of 2021.

Vice President for Enrollment and Marketing Nate Mouttet explained that, before the current school term, SPU had 579 incoming freshmen, a drop from 2020 when the school had about 650 new freshmen. 

“Conceivably, that is still relatively close when you count in on the grand scheme of things; it is still about 600 students,” Moutett said. “But it is enough that last year we really saw our drop, having a large class come out and having a small class come in.”

The drop Mouttet is referencing pertains to overall enrollment after last year. While SPU gained 579 new first-year students, the university lost a much bigger class of 2021 graduates. He said that since the high school class of 2018, numbers have steadied, making for less chaos in enrollment models.

“We expect somewhere around 2600 undergraduate students [next year], which is pretty consistent with where we are this year,” Mouttet said.

Mouttet explained that enrollment rates continue to fluctuate even after a class has enrolled at SPU. 

“Typically, most schools have a drop from their freshman year to their sophomore year,” Mouttet explained. “We have roughly an 80% retention rate. Then your sophomore to junior, junior to senior tends to level out because, in a lot of ways, you’re in your program, it’s not like you can transfer easily.” 

Mouttet did admit that there are students who have been uneasy about coming to SPU since the controversy over their policies regarding sexuality gained larger publicity at the beginning of 2021. However, Mouttet still believes that the most significant factor in whether students decide to go to SPU is cost and not social issues. 

“Tuition. Can I afford it? That’s often the first barrier somebody has,” Mouttet said. 

As a Christian institution, SPU’s faith commitment plays a significant role in people’s enrollment decisions. For incoming student Madalyn Merk, her faith was at the center of her decision to come to SPU. 

“I felt like the Lord was calling me to SPU, as it wasn’t even on my list,” Merk said. “Once I applied, everything fell into place with new friendships and financial aid making it the best place.” 

Karis Yuen, another incoming freshman who plans to double major in special education and elementary education, also says that faith was a big factor in deciding to attend SPU.

“I chose SPU because it’s a Christian community where I can grow in my faith, along with the small class sizes and campus,” Yuen said.

While Yuen was also considering other colleges, SPU ultimately proved to be the best choice.

“I was considering Whitworth and George Fox, but SPU was more appealing because it is closer to where I live, my brother goes to SPU, I love Seattle, and I love the SPU community and environment,” Yuen said.

Merk likes the environment of SPU and says that she has already felt welcomed and supported in her decision to come here.

“Not only is the campus really peaceful, inviting, and beautiful, I’ve been able to make multiple friends, and school hasn’t even started yet,” Merk said. “The staff are amazing when it comes to answering questions and simply just engaging with students, which makes us feel so welcome and wanted at SPU.”

Mouttet is hoping for more incoming students like Merk and Yuen in the years to come, and he believes that all members of the SPU community should be actively recruiting students to enroll. 

“It’s in everybody’s interest on the SPU campus to help us recruit students, from the obvious standpoint of, more students to go around maintains the cost and doesn’t drive up the cost to individual students from the prior year,” Moutett said.