Enrollment is rising or steady at two metro-east universities this spring, with enrollment remaining the same or dropping at community colleges.
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has the largest spring enrollment in the university’s history this year. Spring semester enrollment is 13,346 undergraduate and graduate students, of which 10,214 are full-time students. That’s the highest total and the highest number of full-time students ever enrolled in the spring in SIUE’s history.
McKendree University in Lebanon shows student enrollment about the same as spring 2015, at 2,867, but it anticipates a record-breaking freshman class in the fall semester.
Lindenwood University-Belleville also has increased slightly to 1,486 students, up from 1,460 in the fall semester. Another 607 were enrolled in the accelerated degree program, which is offered at Lindenwood’s Collinsville location.
Meanwhile, Southwestern Illinois College, with 10,812 students, has 515 fewer students enrolled this spring semester than last spring. And Lewis & Clark Community College in Godfrey will not have its final enrollment numbers for a few more weeks. But spokeswoman Lori Artis said the early prediction is that enrollment will be “pretty flat” from last spring, when enrollment was 7,612 students.
At SIUE, traditional undergraduate enrollment is up 281 students or 2.6 percent over last spring’s enrollment. All undergraduate schools have seen increases individually:
• College of Arts and Sciences is up 197 students, or 8 percent.
• School of Education, Health and Human Behavior is up 83 students, or 7 percent.
• School of Business is up 70 students, or 6 percent.
• School of Engineering is up 40 students, or 3 percent.
• School of Nursing is up 201 students, or 17 percent.
• International enrollment stands at 425 students — a 5 percent increase over last spring and the highest since spring 2004.
Considering the highly competitive higher education marketplace, I’m proud of the tireless effort by the enrollment, advising and marketing staffs working cooperatively with the faculty and entire campus community to achieve our recruitment goals.
SIUE interim chancellor Stephen Hansen.
“Considering the highly competitive higher education marketplace, I’m proud of the tireless effort by the enrollment, advising and marketing staffs working cooperatively with the faculty and entire campus community to achieve our recruitment goals,” said SIUE interim chancellor Stephen Hansen. “It reflects the fact that SIUE provides an excellent environment that enables students to learn and grow.”
Last spring’s enrollment was another record-breaker: 10,153 full-time and 13,178 total students enrolled in spring 2015, the highest number to that point.
In addition, online enrollment is up 35 percent, which officials attributed to the recognition of SIUE’s online “RN to BS” program for nursing students. Overall, nearly 12 percent of SIUE’s credit hours will be in online classes, compared with 8 percent last spring.
SIUE has had steady enrollment growth for many years, and the fall 2015 class was another record-breaker. “It appears that our retention efforts as well as initiatives to expand international student recruitment and offer online programs are being successful,” said Scott Belobrajdic, associate vice chancellor for enrollment management.
The fall-to-spring retention rate for freshmen was 90 percent, Belobrajdic said.
McKendree University has 2,249 undergraduate students and 618 graduate students this spring. Chris Hall, vice president for admission and financial aid, said that is similar to previous years, and considering they had a large class graduate midyear after the fall semester, “we feel good about that.”
“We don’t traditionally have a large enrollment increase in the spring semester,” Hall said. “It’s often transfer students coming from two- and four-year schools.”
However, Hall said McKendree is anticipating its largest freshman class ever in the fall 2016 semester. First-year applications are 30 percent higher than their highest year ever, and international student applications are up 150 percent over last year. In addition, there are hundreds more students visiting McKendree now than in previous years, Hall said.
13,346 Total spring enrollment at SIUE
10,812 Total spring enrollment at SWIC
2,867 McKendree University’s spring enrollment
1,486 Lindenwood University-Belleville’s spring enrollment
“I’m almost certain it will be the largest class we’ve ever had in the school’s history,” Hall said. There is a larger regional attraction than a decade ago, Hall said. There are more students applying to McKendree from Wisconsin, Indiana and other Midwestern states, though there is still plenty of interest nationwide.
McKendree is a private university and does not cap its enrollment, though it aims for smaller class sizes, Hall said. “We’ve looked at the projections and classroom space, and we feel pretty good for the coming fall. We’re prepared for the growth,” he said. “But in subsequent years, we will be adapting and evolving to keep up.”
SWIC numbers down
Southwestern Illinois College has seen a decline in enrollment. As of now, there are 10,812 students enrolled in the community college — 515 fewer than last spring’s enrollment of 11,327.
Colleges also measure “full-time equivalent” enrollment, as in the number of credit hours being taken divided by a full-time schedule, so that two half-time students would count as one full-time equivalent. That number has also dropped, from 6,677 last spring to 6,279 this year.
“Though SWIC has experienced a decline in enrollment, attributable partially to declining high school populations and a declining unemployment rate in Illinois, which means more adults are returning to the workforce, SWIC remains the sixth-largest institution of higher education in the bi-state area,” said SWIC spokesman Jim Haverstick.
I’m almost certain it will be the largest (freshman) class we’ve ever had in the school’s history.
Chris Hall, McKendree vice president for admission and financial aid
Haverstick cited a ranking compiled by the St. Louis Business Journal that listed schools on their full-time equivalent enrollment. That ranking placed Washington University with the most full-time equivalent students at more than 13,000, followed by St. Louis University and Lindenwood University-Belleville.
SWIC also saw a decrease in the fall. The college, which has campuses in Belleville, Granite City and Red Bud, dropped from 10,545 students in fall 2014 to 9,943 in fall 2015.