Editorial

Enrollment trends

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Population growth is not a steady climb. It grows faster some years than others. Remember the baby boomers? When they all started school in the early 1950s, classrooms were bulging.

Colleges and universitites keep close tabs on these trends, because they have an impact on enrollment. At Southeast Missouri State University, officials already are planning for the anticipated drop in the number of graduating high school seniors, which means maintaining or growing enrollment will take special effort.

That pool of students is expected to go down about 5 percent by 2011.

The dip in high school graduates comes on the heels of a period of strong enrollment growth at Southeast. This years freshman class was a 19 percent increase over the previous year.

What does this mean for future students? It could mean quite a bit as schools, through aggressive marketing and recruiting, compete for new enrollees.

Southeast cites things like the new River Campus for the arts and the university's historic preservation programs as magnets that will help maintain or increase enrollment.

For aggressive schools like Southeast, which has had significant success in attracting students from the St. Louis area, the expected trends are a challenge, but much of the groundwork is already in place to keep the numbers up.

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