The total student population of Oklahoma Christian University has grown by 9.6% in the last year, resulting from a 10.5% increase in the undergraduate population and a 5% increase in the number of graduates.
“The numbers are in, and it’s good news on the enrollment front at Oklahoma Christian University,” Oklahoma Christian said on their website. “Despite the challenges higher education faces nationally when it comes to enrollment, OC’s undergraduate population increased.”
This was not the case for most colleges as, according to Forbes, college enrollment numbers have dropped substantially.
“Updated figures from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC) show that overall college enrollment fell to 16.9 million students this spring, down more than 600,000 students from a year ago,” Michal Nietzel wrote for Forbes. “That one-year decline of 3.5% is the largest spring semester enrollment decrease since 2011, according to the final  spring report by the NSCRC.”
Executive Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, Doug Shapiro, said COVID-19 likely played a part in causing the decline of enrollment.
“The final estimates for spring enrollment confirm the pandemic’s severe impact on students and colleges this year,” Shapiro said.
Nietzel’s article examined the data in the latest NSCRC report, including the year-to-year differences in student enrollment across the states and found that only seven states saw an overall increase, not including Oklahoma.
Oklahoma Christian appears to have beaten the odds against both a nationwide and statewide decrease in student population.
“While the focus remains to share the Oklahoma Christian experience with as many students as possible, it was refreshing to see that in the midst of a global pandemic, Oklahoma Christian grows,” Oklahoma Christian said on their website.
According to USAFacts, which has tracked enrollment numbers by ethnicity through 2019, the student populations for black students and white students have been declining since 2011, while the student populations for hispanic students and asian students have always increased.
Oklahoma Christian improved in this area too.
“Our emphasis on diversity has also been successful as well,” Oklahoma Christian wrote on their website. “We are seeing record numbers in our enrollment, as it relates to our domestic minority students. The Oklahoma Christian experience is blessed and enriched by bringing more and more students from diverse backgrounds and culture to this special place.”
Coleman Dillahunty, a student at Oklahoma Christian, said the culture is part of what attracts students.
“I think one of the biggest draws is, of course, that we’re a Christian university in a very nice, populated area; Oklahoma City is a big area,” Dillahunty said. “I also think what draws a lot of people is just the kind of culture here where everyone’s very friendly and outgoing. That’s what drew me here.”
According to Dillahunty, however, all the growth might cause housing problems in the future.
“I do think this is going to affect the housing population,” Dillahunty said. “Already in Phase 6, we’re kind of at capacity and so is Phase 3 and 4. So, it [will be] interesting to see what OC will do if we keep expanding our underclassmen that will eventually move up into these newer housing areas.”
Candace Bass, director of residence life, said housing is not currently a problem.
“Currently, Oklahoma Christian is at 70% housing capacity,” Bass said. “We have plenty of beds on campus to meet the needs of a growing student population. If the population continued to grow and housing was a concern, then we would proactively look for solutions to accommodate students.”
In light of the past year’s growth, Oklahoma Christian considers their future.
“It’s fun to stop and celebrate for just a moment the growth that occurred this fall,” Oklahoma Christian said on their website. “But, Oklahoma Christian must and will keep pressing on with the goal of bringing even more students into this Christ-centered higher learning community to transform lives for Christian faith, scholarship, and serve by being increasingly personal, innovative, challenging and missional.”
To learn more about Oklahoma Christian, visit oc.edu/about.