University faces many problems in attracting new students

T.J. Gerlach - Senior Editor

T.J. Gerlach – Senior Editor

T.J. Gerlach

Even though I have enjoyed the two-and-a-half years I have spent at Missouri Southern, I have noticed some major problems with this place.

The Board of Governors and the administration set a goal of having 10,000 students enrolled here. That is a wonderful goal, however, if it is to be made a reality, a few things must happen.

First, having the “lowest tuition in the state” has been a selling point for too long, and it has become overused. Prospective students look for colleges that have the facilities and extracurricular activities in which they are interested. The “low-cost” point is pushed at the start of selling prospective students, instead of as the final closing point. It has been Southern’s crutch for attracting students, and the crutch is developing cracks.

Why? The campus has been falling behind other colleges in the area. Our facilities are getting older with few facelifts; many of the computer labs have comparatively ancient computers; the residence halls get older with few improvements. East Hall is nice; however its capacity is limited making attracting potential residential students more difficult.

As Southern continues to lag behind other institutions, that low price does not hold as much clout.

Furthering the recreation center project quickly would be a major step for the University in attracting new students. The Board should be applauded for continuing this project, but the primary argument against the project, having students pay for it through fees but not wanting to raise fees, frankly, does not hold water. Students will pay the fees – especially when they go to something so beneficial.

There need to be real reasons for students to choose Southern, not just selling points to hopefully attract them.

And just last week, the Governors lowered tuition and admissions requirements. Lowering tuition was a bad idea; it should have just been frozen for the next year. Now, whenever it is increased it, will need to be a larger increase than if the Board kept the cost the same next year. And lowering admissions standards? I realize this will help bring in those 5,000 or so additional students needed to reach the goal, but does Southern really want to be seen as the discount center for colleges?

Another problem in attracting some high school juniors and seniors is they may feel repelled by seeing that about one in every five or six students is non-traditional. Though non-traditional students should be acknowledged for continuing or completing their educations, it is not an attractive feature to those touring campus. The University should not stop accepting so many non-traditionals, but it should focus more attention on filling that 10,000 goal with a larger percentage of traditional-aged students.

The administration and Board of Governors are not the only groups to take the blame on not bringing students in; most of the student body unfortunately does not make Southern a welcoming place to enroll.

The Campus Activities Board and other groups plan so many activities, and it is unfortunate to see many of those attending these events are members of the community instead of students and their friends. Home games are also largely attended by more community members than students.

All these events build traditions, and traditions are part of every college. Unfortunately, these traditions are lacking at Southern, and it is reflected throughout campus in many ways.