Beep, Beep, Beep

It seems to be a recurring theme here at Missouri Southern that while neighboring institutions move forward, we hear the little beep, beep, beep of enrollment going in reverse.

This year’s numbers are disturbing. While administrators say we are in the midst of a financial crisis, we are losing students and therefore losing their dollars.

In the past, we have heard the same tired excuses about the declining high school population and other such nonsense. Don’t pee on our legs and tell us it’s raining.

This University has not seemed to have a coordinated, well-executed and effective recruitment plan. Others do. Pittsburg State University boosted enrollment by concentrating on minority groups with 10 extra curricular groups dedicated to ethnic minorities.

Now, part of the University’s plan to dig us out of the red involves increasing enrollment. Derek Skaggs, director of enrollment, hopes that new “branding” for the University will do the trick. However, we – with our international mission – have cut funding for the Institute of International Studies. Yet the person charged with putting butts in the seats suggests those cuts have something to do with the declining student population.

“There are a lot of prospective students who come to visit and they are attracted by the study abroad opportunities,” Skaggs said.

Students and faculty have begged the University to reinstate funding for the Institute, yet no one has been able to give a straight answer about the future of the program’s budget.

The new payment policy has also left it’s sticky fingerprints on the dwindling enrollment.

“I think there’s an economic issue, especially with our students who are part time,” Skaggs said. “They may not have the funds available to get on the payment plan.”

Crowder College, Missouri State University and PSU are all increasing in numbers. PSU’s enrollment has gone up by 40 students, Crowder’s by 218 and MSU’s by 281. Southern has lost 329 students.

“It’s a combination of quality, cost and convenience,” said Jim Riggs, director of enrollment for Crowder.

You said it, Jim.

More students mean more money and greater opportunities for those students. Southern, we need to start coming up with solutions instead of excuses.