Enrollment Continues to Grow at Southeast

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Aug 25, 2009 – Total enrollment after the first full day of classes of the fall 2009 semester at Southeast Missouri State University is 9,971, up 1.3 percent from this time last year.

Classes at Southeast began Aug. 24.

Beginning freshmen headcount stands at 1,811, and for the third consecutive year has surpassed 1,800. This year’s figure is nearly the same as last year’s record-setting beginning freshmen class of 1,842 recorded after the first day of classes in 2008.

“We are pleased to see that we have for the third year in a row exceeded 1,800 beginning freshmen on the opening day count,” said Dr. Dennis Holt, vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Success. “The fact that enrollments continue to be strong shows that Southeast remains an affordable option for a high quality education in a friendly environment.  The new residence hall, the River Campus, new parking on Broadway, and other improvements all contribute to a campus vitality that serves the community and the students well.”

Bruce Skinner, director of Residence Life, said 2,750 students are living in Southeast’s residence halls this fall. He said 1,146 students moved into Southeast’s residence halls on move-in day last Thursday, 251 of whom participated in early bird check-in and moved into their rooms before 8 a.m.

“The process went very smooth,” he said.

“Move in was a dream,” said Jim Craig, the father of Ellen Craig, a new Southeast freshman from Glen Carbon, Ill., who is living in Towers North.  “I would hug you and the hundreds of helpful student volunteers located all over campus, if I could.  It was raining like crazy during early move-in, but we had so much help the rain was not a problem.  Everyone from the policemen, to the faculty, to the students was so helpful.  I couldn’t believe Ellen was moved in and had her books and parking pass before we ate lunch. Hats off to SEMO. You all continue to exceed our expectations.”

Skinner said Southeast’s new residence hall near the corner of Broadway and Henderson, which houses 292 students and opened last week, is helping to accommodate a large on-campus population and alleviated the need to place students in overflow spaces such as lounges and in residence hall advisor rooms, as was the case last year.

“The new space helps in two ways,” he said. “First, the total number of beds allows us to better meet the requests of incoming and returning students for suite style residence hall rooms. This new space provides another option for our students when considering their on campus living arrangements.

“Second,” he said, “the new space allows us to provide private rooms to our returning student in higher numbers than in the previous two years. Each year, with the growing enrollment, we were unable to grant as many private rooms as students requested because we did not have sufficient space. The new residence hall allows us to now provide these private rooms to our upper-class students and thereby better meet their requests for on- campus living.”

“We have heard great things about the rooms that overlook the field, many compliments on the dining center (Olives), and a generally positive response to the level of amenities provided in the new residence hall,” Skinner added.

Dr. Debbie Below, assistant vice president of enrollment management and director of admissions, says today’s enrollment report also shows several other encouraging trends, including an increase in enrollment of students from Cape Girardeau County. The average ACT score of this year’s beginning freshmen class also has risen for the fifth consecutive year and now stands at an estimated 22.8. That score has steadily risen from 22 in 2005 and from 22.6 last year.

In addition, new, first-time African-American enrollment has grown from 146 in 2008 to 173 in 2009, an increase of 18.4 percent.

“The University’s success in retaining African American students from the previous year has proven that Southeast offers an environment that promotes student success,” she said. “We are extremely pleased to see a substantial increase in the number of African American students choosing Southeast.”

Below says retention is on the rise as well. She says Southeast’s official first-time, full-time fall-to-fall retention rate is on track to increase again in 2009.

“The rate was 70.1 percent in 2005, 69.2 percent in 2006, 70.53 percent in 2007, 71.6 percent in 2008 and on track, based on first day figures, to be at or above 73 percent in 2009,” she said. “The university is making steady progress toward its goal of a 75 percent first year retention rate. And this year, the number of African American students retained is mirroring the overall retention rate. This is attributed to the quality work of many faculty and staff who support students outside of the classroom through co-curricular activities.”

Below also commented that first-day enrollment of transfer students stands at 604, up from 594 at this time last year. She said the increase in transfer enrollments reflects an increase in domestic transfers by 40 and a drop in international transfers by 30.

“Interest among international students remains high,” she said, adding, “we anticipate an increase in international enrollment by the end of the fourth week census.”

Meanwhile, Robin Grebing, director of Southeast Online, says Southeast’s duplicated online enrollment stands at 3,202 this fall. Southeast is offering 158 online courses this fall and six complete online degree programs, two degree completion programs and two certificate programs.

Today’s first-day enrollment reports shows total undergraduate student headcount at 9,087, up 1.9 percent from this time last year. Total graduate student headcount is 884, down 4.8 percent from fall 2008.

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.