Southeast Beginning Freshman Class Surges by 21 Percent


Photo of Academic Hall

Beginning freshmen enrollment at Southeast Missouri State University is up 20.6 percent from this time last year.


Aug. 21, 2007 – Beginning freshmen enrollment at Southeast Missouri State University is up 20.6 percent from this time last year, according to a preliminary report compiled after the first full day of classes of the fall 2007 semester.

Classes at Southeast began Aug. 20.

Beginning freshmen headcount stands at 1,826 today, up from 1,514 at this time last year.

Dr. Debbie Below, director of admissions and enrollment management at Southeast, says that, in addition to the size of the beginning freshman class, the quality of the freshman class has improved significantly.

“We have enrolled approximately 25 percent more valedictorians and salutatorians, and the enrollment of students with an ACT in the 90th percentile (27 or higher) increased by 20 percent over last year,” Below said.

She said the percentage of beginning freshmen with an ACT score of 23 or higher is up 25 percent.

Total combined undergraduate and graduate student headcount on opening day stood at 9,763, up from 9,404 in fall 2006. Southeast surpassed the 10,000 enrollment mark at the fourth week census last fall.

Bruce Skinner, director of Residence Life at Southeast, says occupancy in Southeast’s residence halls is near capacity with 2,602 students housed on campus this fall, an increase of about 100 from this time last year. In early August, Southeast announced that admission was being deferred until spring 2008 for students applying for fall 2007 admission who also were requesting on-campus housing. The deferral was announced in light of a large anticipated beginning freshman class and because the University’s residence hall system was nearing its capacity.

Fortunately, Southeast needed to defer only about a dozen students for spring 2008 admission, said Dr. Dennis Holt, vice president for administration and enrollment management. In the meantime, University officials are currently exploring options for additional housing on the campus in anticipation of a growing need for additional residence hall space.

Below said beginning freshmen enrollment from the Greater St. Louis Region, including St. Louis City and St. Louis, St. Charles, Franklin and Jefferson counties, has increased by 50 percent from 469 in fall 2006 to 707 this year. Southeast has enrolled beginning freshmen students from 60 Missouri counties this fall, up from 48 counties at this time last year.

Below said she attributes the University’s enrollment growth to “a well-coordinated effort by so many students, faculty, staff and friends of the University to make Southeast a ‘University of First Choice.’  The fact that so many students from outside the region have chosen Southeast this year is also a testament to the quality of the larger Cape Girardeau community.”

Holt agreed, saying, “As we bring students and their parents to campus, they see a community on the move.

“Cape Girardeau is a growing community and a good place to live,” he said, adding that the addition of a new Aquatic Center on campus, the opening of the new River Campus downtown and the development of many retail businesses near Route K at I-55 has resonated with students and their parents.

“When we sell the University to prospective students, we are also selling Cape Girardeau as a good place to live,” Holt said.

He said the Admissions staff, headed by Below, is a solidified team.

“They are professional, bright and effective in delivering the message that Southeast is a university on the move where a lot is happening,” Holt said.

Below said families describe Southeast as a first-rate university with first-rate facilities.

“Families today will tour at least three to five colleges before making a final decision. Most of our visitors have described the visit experience at Southeast as impressive,” she said. “They are impressed with our students, our faculty, our facilities, our affordability and our community.”

Families regularly tell Admissions staff they chose Southeast because it offers “the best of both worlds,” Below said. “Many students aspire to attend a major, comprehensive university, yet they prefer small classes and personal attention. Southeast offers just that and is set in a great college town. The public has responded positively to Southeast’s genuine commitment to offering a first-rate undergraduate experience. Southeast has established a reputation for preparing students for the career of their choice,” she said.

Below added that the opening of River Campus has attracted arts students as well as many students in majors outside of the arts, who aspire to be a part of an artistic community.

“This year we will enroll a record number of new students in the fine arts, but this will also be a very good year for the College of Science and Mathematics and several other academic programs,” she said.

Today’s report shows total undergraduate student headcount at 8,775, up 3.9 percent from this time last year. Total graduate student headcount stands at 9,763, up 3.8 percent from fall 2006.

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.