Mercer enrolls 951 new undergrad students amid pandemic

Friends+play+a+card+game+in+the+freshman+dorm+Legacy+Hall.

Image: Lauren Rich

Friends play a card game in the freshman dorm Legacy Hall.

Mercer University enrolled 951 new residential undergraduate students this year, according to a Mercer press release. Inside of that, administrators also reported continued growth in Mercer’s health sciences programming.

“We have a really strong enrollment within our health sciences area,” Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Management Kelly Holloway said. “In a time of a global pandemic, students are really interested in careers within the health sciences. Public health, for example, was something that we saw an increased interest in for this year.”

Students in Mercer’s class of 2024 have an average GPA of 3.95 and an average ACT score of 28, Holloway said. As a result of COVID-19, Mercer went test-optional, but only 7% of students applied without submitting test scores this year causing that to have a minimal impact on the student profile, Holloway said.

The admissions process for new students also underwent major changes during the summer due the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most significant changes was moving many on-campus events online, such as the annual “Make it Mercer!” event and summer orientation.

When they took things online, the admissions team found they had a lot more interaction with their students’ parents than with students.

“When safety was more of a concern than maybe it was in the past, parents were a lot more hands-on this year than what we had seen previously,” Holloway said. “We always communicate with parents, but I would say that this year was more than any other year that I have experienced. And it actually was really great. So much so that we said: ‘Why haven’t we been doing this all along? We need to do more of this.’”

However, this higher level of communication with parents evolved into a new problem, Holloway said. With parents being more hands on, students began to be more hands-off.

“We typically say we aren’t asking for our parents to be hands-off — we are asking our students to be hands-on,” Holloway said.

According to Holloway, one of Mercer’s main goals is to graduate successful students. Holloway explained that Mercer’s admissions team does its best to find the students that they believe will be successful at Mercer specifically and are not just already successful students.

“While we have seen continued growth and continued demand for a Mercer education, we are not sacrificing academic quality or diversity in doing so,” Holloway said.