The New Mexico State University system saw a small drop in enrollment for the fall 2021 semester over the previous fall, driven primarily by a decline in continuing undergraduate students. NMSU-O, the university’s online campus, has seen year-over-year growth.

NMSU had a total of 21,694 students across all campuses on Sept. 3, the university’s fall 2021 census date. That's a drop of 3 percent from the number recorded the previous year systemwide. NMSU’s Las Cruces campus counted 13,904 students, a decrease of 2.3 percent. That includes 2,674 graduate students, up by 0.8 percent over the previous fall. 

Vice President for Student Success Renay Scott said the university has introduced several new strategies to counter some of the key challenges presented by the pandemic and help boost retention for undergraduate students.

“I met with several students last year who reported they were writing papers on their phones,” Scott said. “It became clear that access to technology and the need for technology skill enhancement were necessary for student success.” 

One such strategy is the Aggie Launch Pad initiative, which provides each first-time, full-time freshman an iPad bundle and offers all students opportunities to learn digital literacy and technology skills to help students become more productive in academic coursework.

While the pandemic revealed some challenges for traditional undergraduate and graduate course delivery, it also may have boosted interest in programming specifically geared toward adult learners seeking a fully online learning environment. Enrollment at NMSU-O increased about 10 percent to 1,220 students, thanks in part to a strategic shift in the program’s design.

“Throughout the last year, we have strategically developed an online operation that enhances the student journey, starting from the inquiry phase and continuing throughout the entire learning experience,” said Sherry Kollmann, who joined NMSU in March 2020 as vice provost for Digital Learning Initiatives. “As part of this intentional focus, a key area was developing programs that are designed specifically for the adult learner in an 8-week accelerated model. This accelerated model allows our adult learners the ability to bring their lived experiences into a learning environment.”

Enrollment change at NMSU’s community colleges was mixed, with some campuses seeing double-digit growth and others declining. NMSU Carlsbad grew by 13.1 percent to 1,361 students, while NMSU Grants grew by 11.3 percent to 692 students. NMSU Alamogordo saw relatively flat enrollment, increasing by 0.5 percent to 946 students, while NMSU’s largest 2-year campus, Doña Ana Community College, experienced a drop of 8.2 percent to 6,454 students.

More information about NMSU system census enrollment data is available at

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