Southeast Hits Retention Rate High, Freshman Class Swells


2016-EVT-MoveIn-0818-055AE_720x480_72_RGBWith the highest retention rate in school history and a flourishing beginning freshman class, Southeast Missouri State University begins the fall 2016 semester in robust fashion.


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Total enrollment stands at 11,536 today, a 1.1 percent increase from this time last year. Preliminary figures indicate Southeast will have its highest retention rate in recent history with  74.3 percent of its new students from last fall returning for the fall 2016 semester.

“We are coming together — faculty, staff and students — to help every student achieve his or her goal of earning a college degree,” said Dr. Debbie Below, vice president for enrollment management and student success and dean of students at Southeast.

Beginning Freshman Enrollment Grows by 10 Percent

2016-EVT-FreshmanConvocation-0819-11-JR_720x480_72_RGBWith a record retention rate this fall, Southeast also is bolstered by a 10.6 percent increase in beginning freshmen. Today’s beginning freshman numbers include nine percent enrollment growth among Missouri students along with an 11 percent increase among new students from Cape Girardeau County. Total beginning freshman enrollment has grown to 1,875 this fall, up from 1,695 at this time last year.

“A new university brand and marketing strategy, deployed in 2015, effectively drew attention to all that Southeast has to offer,” Below said. “There are so many talented faculty and staff to credit for this enrollment success, and the Admissions and University Communications and Marketing teams were flawless in their implementation of the new brand. The result has been an influx of talented high school graduates from both Missouri and Illinois. We can’t wait to see what they do!”

This year’s surging beginning freshman class includes a record number of Illinois students. First-day enrollment figures show 331 new first-time students from Illinois enrolled this fall, nearly a 50 percent increase from fall 2012. New first-time enrollments also have jumped by 22 percent over the past year among students from the Greater St. Louis Area.

The beginning freshman class this fall is also increasingly diverse, boasting a record number of African American and Hispanic students. New, first-time African American student headcount is up 24 percent from a year ago while new first-time Hispanic student enrollment has grown 33 percent from fall 2015.

“This diverse and talented group of students stepped up to our challenge of “What are you doing for the next four years?” said Lenell Hahn, director of admissions at Southeast.  “They have the will to do and are on course to launch extraordinary careers.”

Today’s enrollment report shows a substantial increase in new dual credit students — 905 — up from 643 in fall 2015. Below attributes the jump – a 40.7 percent increase — to some 2016-EVT-OpeningWeek-MoveInBashJM0818-022_720x480_72_RGBschool districts submitting registrations earlier than in previous years.

Also contributing to Southeast enrollment growth is the Cape College Center. Enrollment at that location stands at 176 today, up 11.4 percent from this time last year.

Southeast’s strong academic programs continue to attract new students. Undergraduate academic programs experiencing substantial new student growth this fall are cybersecurity and elementary education.

Southeast’s cybersecurity program piqued the interest of beginning freshman Tiara Nolden, a graduate of Kirkwood High School in St. Louis and an avid video gamer. Nolden said she’s interested in learning about interfaces and new computer languages.

“Southeast is the only college I looked at that had more than just computer programming; they have cybersecurity,” she said.

2016-EVT-IceCreamPigOutJM0819-016_720x480_72_RGBEventually, she hopes to land a job in Atlanta, Georgia, possibly with the government, as a tech analyst to help prevent hacking. For now, though, she says, “I’m really excited … to see what the world is like and meet some new friends … grow friendships and relationships and help me better myself with what I want to do.”

Southeast’s final census report will be issued in four weeks.

Mark Your Calendar for Oct. 15 Show Me Day

Building on its highest rate of returning students in school history and significant growth in beginning freshmen, Southeast encourages incoming students to begin planning now to attend a Show Me Day on campus this fall. Show Me Day is an opportunity to visit Southeast and learn about the variety of academic programs and services offered. The first fall 2016 Show Me Day is scheduled for Oct. 15 with additional dates planned throughout the fall and into 2017.

Southeast is now accepting applications for the fall 2017 semester and students are encouraged to apply in November to meet the Dec. 1 deadline for early scholarship consideration and on-campus housing.  Apply online at

For more information on becoming a Redhawk at Southeast Missouri State University, contact the Office of Admissions at (573) 651-2590 or