Laboratory Schools enrollment remains stable despite distance learning

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Despite a temporary withdrawal option, 630 high school students are currently enrolled in U-High compared to 621 students in the 2019-2020 school year.

Lucia Kouri, City Life Editor

Enrollment at the Laboratory Schools has remained relatively stable for the 2020-21 school year even with a temporary withdrawal option due to the coronavirus pandemic allowing students to return to Lab next year.

The temporary withdrawal option allows students to spend the year at another school with guaranteed enrollment for the 2021-22 school year. Very few high school students withdrew.

According to Brent LaRowe, director of registrar services and information management, administrators were initially concerned that enrollment numbers would drop significantly with this new program.

“We were concerned that offering this would result in a large number of people withdrawing from Lab for a year,” Mr. LaRowe said, “but we felt it was the right thing to do no matter what.”

Despite these initial concerns, 2,107 students ranging from nursery to high school are currently enrolled in Lab compared to 2,188 students in the 2019-20 school year, according to the Laboratory Schools website. 630 students are currently enrolled in U-High compared to 621 students in the 2019-20 school year. 

 “All things considered, it didn’t really negatively impact our enrollment as much as we were fearing it would,” Mr. LaRowe said.

The drop in enrollment includes 120 students who opted for the temporary withdrawal option, most of whom are in younger grade levels and especially in the nursery school. 

“We had a very small number of high school students take advantage of the temporary withdrawal,” Mr. LaRowe said. “Most of the students are in the nursery program.”

Lab’s enrollment numbers are far more stable than most public schools throughout Chicago, which have collectively dropped 15,000 students this year alone. 

We were able to offer admission to some kids that otherwise we probably wouldn’t have.”

— Brent LaRowe

On the other hand, other private schools across Chicago have also experienced steady enrollment numbers, with some smaller private schools, such as Solomon Schechter and North Shore Country Day School, even seeing an increased enrollment demand largely due to their offering fully in-person classroom options.

With Lab’s temporary withdrawal option, more new students were offered admission this year than previous years.

“We were able to offer admission to some kids that otherwise we probably wouldn’t have,” Mr. LaRowe said.

Looking back on enrollment this year, Mr. LaRowe said it’s no surprise that numbers remained stable, despite the addition of the temporary withdrawal option. 

“We all know that our community is invested, and they are just fantastic parents and students,” Mr. LaRowe said. “It’s not shocking that so many people would be committed to the Laboratory Schools.”