Southeast Missouri State University is expecting the largest beginning freshman class in the school's history this fall.
University officials estimate more than 1,700 freshmen will enroll for the 2007-08 semester, and possibly 1,800 first-time students will attend the university in all. Dr. Dennis Holt, vice president of administration and enrollment management, said Southeast's attempts to tell its story seem to be working. "We've made some specific efforts in the St. Louis region, and I think that has helped us quite a bit," Holt said. "While our numbers are going up overall, specifically I think the key here is our ability to maintain in our immediate region of St. Louis and Southern Illinois."
Holt also credits the university's recruiting staff and Southeast's growing respect in the region.
"The quality of our recruiting staff is excellent," Holt said. "They are sharp, experienced and represent the university well. I credit them for much of this. Add to that the university is getting a reputation as a university on the move, and that isn't just because of the River Campus."
Although freshman enrollment was down 9.6 percent at 1,518 in 2006-2007 from 2005-2005, the 1,679 freshmen who enrolled for 2005-2006 represented the previous high, up 12 percent from the 1,500 in 2004-2005.
The growing enrollment is forcing Southeast to prepare more housing. The university has plans to turn three of its five fraternity and sorority residence halls into freshman housing and construct a new complex for the Greek-letter organizations. Dearmont Hall, one of the few residence halls in Missouri without air conditioning, also could be updated. The update plans are tentative at this time, however, and would not open until fall of 2008.
Until then, the university is scaling down the number of private rooms to deal with the growing freshman population because some of those rooms will have to have double occupancy. This year's enrollment will allow for 90 single rooms.
"I think there are a few reasons why more students are choosing Southeast," said Trista Kurfman, student leader in the university admissions office. "Of course the River Campus comes to mind, but the university seems to be getting its name out there more, and cost of programs here also helps. But I think our university tours are our biggest selling point."
Holt said university officials will be able to better evaluate enrollment numbers once enrollment is complete Aug. 24.
"Until fall everything is speculative," Holt said. "But we've never seen anything like this. This will be a historic high [number] of freshmen for the university, over 200 more students than the previous high. There is still some room for growth in some areas, but we're doing well."
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