One semester of tuition at Point Loma Nazarene University costs $18,880. This cost, reported on PLNU’s website, is assumed before financial aid and scholarships. The fall 2020 semester is completely online, same as the San Diego Community College District, which charged $46 per unit this semester. If a student takes six, three-unit courses at any community college in the district, it would cost $828. With the cost difference between PLNU and SDCCD in mind, students might change their college plans. Has COVID-19 hurt PLNU’s admissions numbers? Have applicant numbers decreased?
The honest answer is no. Shannon Hutchison Caraveo, admissions director at PLNU, said this year had a fairly consistent number of transfer applications, and the highest number of freshman applications to date.
Maddie Hartt, a first-year applicant from Murrieta, CA, will graduate from high school in 2021. Hartt said, “I have always wanted to attend PLNU, so even though it might be online, I had to apply.”
She said she hopes her first year of college will be in-person, but she will consider attending a less expensive college if the school year is online.
Kayleigh Hofer, assistant director of residential life at PLNU, explained how residential life has been affected by COVID-19. According to Hofer, PLNU allowed nearly 770 students on campus at the beginning of the fall 2020 semester, which was almost 1,000 fewer students than usual. Students who wanted to or needed to live on campus this semester needed to apply for housing.
Hofer said, “We had to deny a small number of people. Students who applied had to have a significant circumstance requiring presence on campus or be a nursing student. This was all according to county guidelines.”
COVID-19 also affected students who already applied for fall 2020 admission.
Caraveo said, “We had about 50 students choose to defer their fall 2020 admission to spring 2021, but even one student deferring would be considered ‘a rise’ because we’ve never had a deferral process before.”
University of San Diego, Azusa Pacific University and Seattle Pacific University are all private religious-affiliated colleges, similar to PLNU. Despite attempts to reach the admissions teams from each school, The Point was unable to get in contact with them. Information on the schools’ websites shows their COVID-19 responses. All three schools stopped in-person tours, but have marketed their virtual tours as a priority for potential applicants. Caraveo said the PLNU admissions team does the same, offering virtual info sessions and tours for potential students.
USD, APU and SPU each created pages on their websites detailing their plans and regulations for students and faculty. USD implemented an entire portion of their admissions page to teach students how to defer their enrollment. APU’s website has sections explaining their COVID-19 response, but nothing significant regarding deferment. Similar to PLNU, SPU shortened the fall 2020 semester and went completely remote.
Looking to the future, Hofer encourages students to give themselves space, permission and people to process alongside the grieving of a college experience that is not as it used to be.
Caraveo said, “This is just a season…a really weird, inconvenient season to be choosing a college…but just a season! I have hope that our incoming students will get to experience a much more ‘normal’ PLNU fall when they’re here next year.”
Written By: Zoey Byrom