August 20, 2013
More than 4300 students were enrolled in classes at Shawnee State University on the first day of the new academic year, which began on Monday, August 19. The official fall enrollment figure for SSU will be taken on the 15th day of the semester and often varies from the first-day snapshot, however, this initial count indicates a 6.4% decrease in enrollment over last year. This represents a decrease of 298 students.
"We anticipated a decrease this semester due to a larger than usual graduating class last year, a leveling of the number of traditional-aged students within the region, the state and the nation, and a national trend of declining enrollment in institutions similar to SSU," Dr. Rita Rice Morris, SSU President, said. "We delayed finalizing our budget for the current year until we knew our final numbers so that we could maximize our resources."
While there is a decline in overall numbers, SSU has more new students this fall, with a 4.6% increase in the number of first-time freshmen this year over last year. The decrease was in the number of returning students and transfer students. SSU has taken several steps to break out of this enrollment decline. In addition to making budget adjustments to reflect actual enrollment numbers, the university put in place programming to help students continue to succeed and graduate, and has enhanced recruitment efforts for Fall 2014.
Since 2000, Shawnee State has grown by more than 32%, an increase of more than 1,000 students.
"We continue to attract more students from throughout the state, nation, and world and are expanding programs and facilities to meet the needs of these students – today and well into the future," Morris said. "We are also implementing programs this fall, including a new Success Curriculum, aimed at helping to retain new students by providing the extra support that they may need to succeed in college and persist to graduation."
Morris explained that the Success Curriculum is being piloted this year with an initial group of 120 students identified as needing support as they enter college. The program provides these students will advising, tutoring, and specialized courses designed to help them overcome barriers to success.
"We have built momentum over the past several years and plan to continue building upon that momentum as we move forward and continue to attract future Bears," Morris said.