The number of students enrolling at Utah State University this Fall is not significantly down, despite the swelling number of LDS missionaries leaving earlier to serve.
Last October, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints decided men could begin serving missions at age 18 instead of 19, and women at 19 instead of 21.
Because of this change, President Albrecht of Utah State University formulated a task force to research the effect the age change would have on Fall 2013 enrollment and develop recruitment strategies to offset the departures.
"We did lose over 1,300 students," said James Morales, Vice President of Student Services at Utah State University. "But the fact is, that because of our aggressive recruiting strategies, we have made up more than half of those students."
The task force has significantly combated low enrollment by acquiring funding for rigorous out-of-state recruitment. It is projected that enrollment at USU will be down 650 additional students the Fall 2014 semester, however USU hopes to significantly deplete that number with further recruitment strategies.
The student culture at Utah universities is also projected to change as a result of the missionary age modification. "So in two years, we're going to have a Freshman class that's made up now of two types of students," Morales said. "We're going to have students that are coming out of high school that never intend to go on a mission, and then we're going to have a freshmen class that's made up of these students who are coming back from these missionary experiences who are 20 years old."
Because of the age-change decision, the number of Mormon missionaries has surpassed 75,000 worldwide and is expected to swell to 85,000 by the year’s end.
Taylor Halversen is a senior at Utah State University, majoring in Communication Studies and Liberal Arts. She's from Sandy, Utah and is interested in discovering new and random things to try and attempting to live life wholly and healthily. She loves music and climbing anything from trees to mountains.