DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A study from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center shows that enrollment is down 3.2% in the last year. Here in the Miami Valley, Wittenberg University Vice President for Enrollment Management Carola Thorson says their college has felt the impact.

“What we ended up seeing this past year is we saw a slight decline from where we were at the prior cycle,” said Thorson.

Thorson says she feels the pandemic’s impact on life could be to blame. “We weren’t able to have those really large signature events that we traditionally had on our college campus. There were a number of pieces that couldn’t happen in a traditional fashion that we found really fed into what was important for students to take advantage of during that specific time.”

Along with some colleges dealing with enrollment issues, Fairborn Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Paul Newman says there’s a concern less students means less businesses for surrounding areas. “We see a lot of student traffic from the university, from the dorms, the housing over there that walk over to let’s say Meijer, or local fast food shops. Enrollment affects them, but it definitely affects our local businesses,” said Newman.

In Dayton, Chamber of Commerce President Chris Kershner says they’re constantly checking in on colleges and their impact on local businesses. “We’re partners with our local universities. So, we’re always trying to make sure that we have that right partnership there to provide the right services they need for their students, their faculty, and for their community,” said Kershner.

Thorson wants to encourage students to get out and explore college opportunities for themselves. “We’re here to be a guide along the way to be able to answer any of the questions that may come up for your specific case.”