Area Higher Education Centers Enjoying Increased Enrollments

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

Sept. 29, 2006 – Total enrollment in Southeast Missouri State University’s higher education centers south of Cape Girardeau in Kennett, Malden and Sikeston, Mo., is up four percent for the fall 2006 semester, according to the official fourth-week census report issued last week.

Headcount is 1,180, up from 1,135 at this time last year. The current official census report includes 206 at the Harry L. Crisp Bootheel Education Center in Malden, Mo.; 668 at the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center (SAHEC); and 306 at the Kennett Area Higher Education Center (KAHEC). 

“Enrollments continue to grow at the centers, both in the number of students served and in the number of credit hours taken by students,” said Dr. Randy Shaw, assistant provost for Extended Learning and dean of the School of Polytechnic Studies.

He says Southeast also is seeing significant growth in the number of students pursuing four-year degrees offered at the area higher education centers.

Angela Bakhtiari of Charleston, Mo., is among those students, She’s pursuing an early childhood education degree at SAHEC.

“I can’t get the type of degree I need at a community college,” Bakhtiari said. “It’s easier to get all four years done at the same place. It just makes sense to be able to stay at the same location.”

Haley Pelts of Kennett, Mo., a senior elementary education major at KAHEC, echoed her comments, saying “A four-year degree will help me out a lot more in the long run.”

Nikki Ward of Dexter, Mo., a freshman this fall at the CBEC, said she chose the CBEC “because my teachers at Dexter (High School) said it was just phenomenal.”

“She plans to be a teacher and heard this was ‘the place’ for teacher education,” said Dr. Rick Hux, director of the CBEC.

Affordability, the three say, also is key to the reasons they are pursuing their degrees this fall at the area higher education centers.

Students taking freshman- and sophomore-level courses at the three centers, up to 57 credit hours, pay $119 per credit hour, which is lower than the fee for courses taught on the Cape Girardeau campus. These reduced fees, along with Southeast’s textbook rental program are making higher education very affordable for students at Southeast’s centers south of Cape Girardeau.

This semester, Southeast students can rent their textbooks for $17.75 a course. Pelts says that at other institutions, “you are out a lot of money” after buying textbooks.

“Being able to rent them helps a lot,” she said. “I can’t imagine having to pay for textbooks.”

She said Southeast students are fortunate to be able to pay less than $20 per book when compared to students at other schools who oftentimes pay more than $100 for each textbook.

“I can’t afford to spend that,” Bakhtiari said.

Ward says she is fortunate to be the recipient of the Regent’s and MAP scholarships. The MAP Scholarship covers the cost of her textbooks.

The three say they also are saving on gas expenses while taking classes close to home.

Pelts says the savings she has realized in gasoline costs is significant.

“It’s the difference in taking an extra class for me,” she said.

Bakhtiari agreed, saying, “I realize gas has gone down, but it’s still $2 a gallon.” So, not having to travel to the Cape Girardeau campus “is a big help,” she said.

Ward works part-time in Dexter and carpools with a fellow student to cut down on transportation costs.

And, since Southeast’s services, including academic and career advising, are available in the centers, the three students say they have little need to travel to the main campus in Cape Girardeau.

“It’s very important to me to be able to go into the office and say, ‘hey, I need to talk to Miss Helen (Steinmetz – coordinator of academic programs) or Judy (Buck – director of SAHEC). Usually, they can work me into their schedule in the most, a day’s time,” Bakhtiari said.

Ward says the staff at the CBEC “are incredibly helpful.”

Pelts said, “Having Karen (Tucker – academic advisor) here, is just amazing. She’s right here if you need her.”

Bakhtiari, who hopes to be a kindergarten teacher in the near future, said she also is enjoying SAHEC because “it’s a small place. It’s not overwhelming to go into.

“There are several hundred people here,” she said, “and I probably know 25 percent of them. It’s like a mini college. I love it.”

Ward says she appreciates the one-on-one time she’s been given with her instructors

Added Bakhtiari, “It just seems like the professors are very schooled in their subjects, and if we have a problem, they can help us with it.”

“It’s great being down here and being close to home,” said Pelts, who works in the KAHEC office. “I really appreciate the opportunities I’ve had.”