Total enrollment in spring declines

Allison Rosewicz

Spring has not sprung for this semester’s enrollment figures.

The spring 2003 enrollment figures have suffered a decrease after two record spring semesters. The figures have dropped to the levels of three and four years ago.

“Who would have thought a year ago we would be in this situation,” said Dr. Delores Honey, assistant vice president for assessment and institutional research.

Total enrollment for this semester is 5,188. In spring 2002, enrollment reached a record high of 5,504. The previous record in 2001 was 5,340.

“What we had was two unusual springs,” Honey said. “We’re sort of back in line where we were.”

In 2000, total enrollment was 5,093. In 1999, it was 5,191. This spring’s enrollment has sunk back to those levels.

“After two record enrollments, there’s always going to be a leveling out,” Honey said. “It has to happen.”

Honey believes the nation’s economic crisis and the threat of war are affecting enrollment.

“Normally, enrollment would go up,” she said. “But we’re living in such unusual times. The economics don’t explain these situations.”

But some students think the College itself is at fault.

“I was thinking of switching schools because I had problems with financial aid,” said Christie Searle, sophomore accounting major.

She also thinks the tuition increases in past semesters have caused the decrease in this semester’s enrollment.

“That’s probably a big factor,” she said.

Donald Gage, junior accounting major, believes Missouri Southern’s enrollment has declined because area high schools are experiencing increased drop out rates, and this is carrying over to the College.

“There is a lack of will to succeed,” he said.

Honey said the enrollment has decreased this semester because people are dropping out for financial reasons. She said personal decisions are hard right now.

“The uncertainty is what’s making difficult decisions inevitable,” she said.

She said the College is doing what it can to bring enrollment back up.

“We’ve all been made aware retention is very important,” Honey said. “We’re trying to make the best of a bad situation.”

She said she cannot accurately predict what will happen to fall enrollment, but she thinks it will stay about the same as fall 2002’s enrollment.

“There’s always a drop from fall to spring,” Honey said. “That’s just a general rule of thumb throughout higher education.”

She said the short-term figures are not good indicators of what will happen in the future.

“Trends give full insight,” she said.

Although enrollment has gone down, Honey believes students still value their education at Southern.

“A lot of people, 5,200, think Missouri Southern is worth the investment this semester,” she said. “We’ve always done more with less. That’s what we’re good at, and I guess we’ll continue doing it.”