Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Logo of The Middlebury Campus
Monday, Dec 11, 2023

College implements new programs to balance enrollment next year

Middlebury plans to continue housing students in the Inn on the Green next year for the third fall semester in a row, due to an unusually small graduating class and uneven number of students studying abroad. The college has offered a $2,000 travel reimbursement for anyone willing to switch their spring study abroad semester to the fall, which about 20 students have accepted.

“This spring, we have approximately 2,550 students on campus. We expect that this number will grow in the fall,” wrote Interim Executive Vice President and Provost Michelle McCauley in an email to faculty and staff.

McCauley noted that Middlebury’s ideal undergraduate enrollment is between 2,500 and 2,600 students. The college estimates a typical size for the incoming first-year class with around 630 students — although admitted students have until May 1 to accept their offers — the college still expects a “larger than usual overall enrollment” in the fall. One contributing factor to increased enrollment is that many students chose to take leaves of absence during the pandemic and, thus, are graduating later.

“Our commitment to offering flexibility to our students as they navigated the pandemic has resulted in an unexpectedly modest number of students (about 420) who will graduate in May, and, relatedly, a large group of students (more than 200, instead of the usual 100) who are expected to graduate in February 2024,” McCauley wrote.

Students are also disproportionately choosing to study abroad in the spring instead of in the fall, contributing to the increased number of students on Middlebury’s campus during the fall semester. Carlos Vélez, dean of international experiences, told The Campus in an email that his office projected a difference of around 130 students between the two semesters.

“Currently, we are projecting about 195 [students studying abroad] for fall semester and 325 for spring semester. It’s just a more significant imbalance than in previous years,” Vélez wrote. “Since the pandemic, our spring numbers have typically been 80 students higher than in the fall semester. Prior to the pandemic, it was closer to a difference of 25.”

In response to this unusually large disparity, the college offered a $2,000 travel reimbursement to incentivize students to study away from campus in the fall. Students were eligible for the reimbursement whether they chose to switch their study abroad semester from spring to fall, spent a full academic year abroad or spent the fall semester at Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) or another domestic program.

“We had about 20 students who made this switch,” Vélez wrote. The reimbursement is expected to be a one-time incentive for fall 2023 only and not offered in the future.

In addition to the travel reimbursement, Middlebury has announced plans for a new program starting for fall 2023 admits.

“We have created a pilot program allowing up to 32 first-year students who were admitted for the September term to spend their first semester abroad in Copenhagen,” McCauley wrote.

This new program will also help reduce the disparity between the number of students on campus in the fall compared to the spring.

The increased number of students in the fall means Middlebury’s housing capacity may be stretched thin. For the past two fall semesters, the college has used the Inn on the Green — located at 16 Court Square in Middlebury — for student housing. While there are no students housed at the Inn on the Green this spring, Associate Dean of Student Life AJ Place confirmed it would be used for student housing in fall 2023.

“We anticipate that housing will be full in the fall and Inn on the Green will be available to select in the Junior/Senior process this spring. We also anticipate all students will move back to main campus for the spring term,” read an email sent to rising juniors and seniors from the Residential Life office on March 27.

Students living at the Inn on the Green will receive a free parking pass, free laundry service through the student company Wash and Carry, assistance moving back to campus in the spring and priority in choosing spring housing.

“While we do not yet know the exact number of students in the incoming class or the number of students who plan to return after a pandemic-related leave, we are committed to providing the best possible academic and residential experience to our students and to minimizing any further disruption to their education,” McCauley wrote.

Correction 04/13/2023 3:09 p.m.: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the year in which the Middlebury-Copenhagen First-Year Program is slated to start. It will start with fall 2023 admits, not fall 2024. This error has been corrected.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Middlebury Campus delivered to your inbox