Beginning Freshman Class Exceeds Last Year’s Record-Setting Size

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

Aug. 26, 2008 – Beginning freshmen enrollment at Southeast Missouri State University is up .9 percent to 1, 842 from last year’s record setting beginning freshmen class which grew by 19 percent over the previous year, according to a preliminary report compiled after the first full day of classes of the fall 2008 semester.

Classes at Southeast began Aug. 25.

Beginning freshmen headcount stands at 1,842, up from 1,826 at this time last year.

Dr. Debbie Below, assistant vice president for enrollment management and director of admissions, says that, in addition to the size of the beginning freshman class, the quality of the freshman class has improved as well. The number of freshmen with ACT scores of 23 or higher is 797, up from 736 at this time last fall.

Opening day enrollment of students from the Southeast Missouri region grew from 676 in 2007 to 764 in 2008, an increase of 13 percent, she said. In addition, international student headcount increased from 191 in 2007 to 278 in 2008.

Below says Southeast’s River Campus, which opened last fall, also has contributed to Southeast’s enrollment growth.

“Enrollment for the Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts remains strong,” she said. “We have slightly more new majors this year, and the number of new majors has doubled in size in the last five years from 56 new first time majors in 2007 to 116 in 2008.”

Also contributing to Southeast’s enrollment growth is the number of new transfer students. Southeast had 594 new transfer students on opening day this week compared to 538 new transfer students in fall 2007. This represents a 10 percent increase in the enrollment of transfer students, she said.

Total combined undergraduate and graduate student headcount on opening day stood at 9,843, up .8 percent from 9,763 in fall 2007. Southeast’s enrollment reached 10,665 at the fourth week census last fall.

Dr. Dennis Holt, vice president for enrollment management and student success, said Southeast’s first day enrollments indicate “moderate growth at our official fourth week census.” He says this is in line with the University’s strategic enrollment plan goal of maintaining modest growth up to an optimal level of about 11,400 in 2014.

The numbers are also in keeping with enrollment planning, he said.

“The academic profile of the entering student body is improving and our expectation is that more students who come to Southeast will also graduate from Southeast,” he said.

Bruce Skinner, director of Residence Life at Southeast, says 2,750 students are housed in University-owned residence halls and housing spaces this fall.

“Last Thursday, we moved 1,214 students into the residence halls, beginning at 6 a.m.,” Skinner said. “This is a new high for us in terms of moving students into the halls in one day. Previous numbers were about 1,000. I am very proud of the new high of 303 students taking advantage of our early move-in process. All 303 of these students checked into the residence halls before 8 a.m. This is 105 more than the same time period last year.”

To house this large number of incoming students, 80 additional beds were added to Southeast’s residence hall system with the addition of Henderson Hall. This renovated apartment building is now home to upperclass and non-traditional students, he said. Southeast also is building a new residence hall to house students requesting on campus housing. This building, between Vandiver Hall and Houck, is set to open in fall 2009.

With the growth in traditional residence hall students and the increase in international students, the Office of Residence Life also made other changes to its housing options this fall, some of which have not been seen on the Southeast campus in decades, Skinner said. Multiple student lounges were converted into overflow housing for students. In addition, several residence hall advisors made arrangements for roommates in their staff rooms. Two floors in Greek Housing were converted to temporary housing for new students. Residence Life also converted two off-campus houses, owned by the University, to residence hall space and provided short-term housing for incoming students who needed traditional housing, he said.

“The off-campus houses and lounge space conversions are the first time I have seen this at Southeast since I have been with the Office beginning in 1991,” Skinner said.

Southeast’s strong enrollment is also evident in its online courses. Robin Grebing, director of Southeast Online, says Southeast’s duplicated online enrollment stands at 3,119 this fall, with 550 students completing their degree programs entirely online. She says Southeast is offering 150 online courses this fall and 10 complete online degree, degree completion and certificate programs. The MATESOL, ESOL and RN/BSN programs are being offered completely online for the first time this semester, Grebing said.

Today’s first-day enrollment report shows total undergraduate student headcount at 8,914, up 1.6 percent from 8,775 at this time last year. Total graduate student headcount stands at 929, down from 988 in fall 2007.

The official census report will be issued in four weeks. University officials say the enrollment typically grows between the first-day census and the final fourth-week census date.