Recruiting day: Hundreds of prospective students and their parents tour SEMO

Sunday, March 29, 2009
FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com
Prospective students and their parents take a walking tour Saturday on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University during the Show Me Day open house event.

Mary O'Connell is still uncertain about her area of study.

"I'm not sure, maybe education, maybe business," said O'Connell, a high school junior from St. Peters, Mo.

She's also unsure about which college to attend.

About 450 prospective students and their parents, including the O'Connells, came to Southeast Missouri State University on Saturday for tours and information sessions. More than 200 faculty, staff and students put on the event four times a year to introduce the university to potential students.

In the Student Recreation Center, Mary and her parents wandered around displays showcasing Southeast's academic programs.

FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com
Prospective students and their parents browse through displays at the Academic Fair Saturday during Show Me Day at the Student Recreation Center.

Mary O'Connell said she preferred the small-town atmosphere of places like Cape Girardeau but has two more college visits planned.

As university-bound high school seniors make their decisions in the next few months, another round of students is preparing for the transition to college. For university staff, the recruiting cycle continues.

After seeing a 20 percent increase in freshmen enrollment in 2007, university officials said they expect class sizes to stabilize at about 1,800 each year. Dr. Deborah Below, director of admissions and enrollment management, said with total enrollment at about 10,800, the university is content with its size and so are parents.

"They like our size," she said. "They feel like it's a major university with smaller classes."

She said the university is changing little about its recruiting strategy.

Below said she wants to increase the number of visiting students by 1 to 2 percent every year. Because students are applying to more schools, it is necessary to bring in more visitors to maintain enrollment numbers, she said.

The university is also increasing recruiting efforts in Illinois, where the student pool is growing, contrary to trends throughout the rest of the Midwest, said Danielle Alspaugh, associate director of admissions. She said the desire to move farther away from home helps balance the higher cost for those students.

"People still have that need to go out of state," she said.

Alspaugh said the university offers about 250 scholarships each year to offset the cost of out-of-state tuition.

Below said financial aid has been a bigger concern for all students this year. She said they are waiting longer to enroll so they can base their decision on their financial aid package.

Admissions counselor Alisa McFerron said many students are exploring the option of attending a community college to ease the cost of education.

McFerron is one of eight admissions counselors who make contact with high school guidance counselors and potential students. Each counselor focuses on specific regions, including Missouri and parts of Kentucky, Illinois, Arkansas and Tennessee. McFerron recruits students in the eastern part of Missouri between Cape Girardeau and St. Louis.

She said phone calls with parents and students focus on funding and scholarships.

"They want to know, 'Am I going to be offered financial aid?'" she said.

abusch@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

One University Plaza Cape Girardeau, MO

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