Spring enrollment drops to 5,718

Enrollment has gradually increased at 3.5 percent over the last three years, yet spring enrollment went down slightly to 5,718 students and has failed to keep up with the rest of Texas schools’ growth rates. Nevertheless, officials predict 6,100 students to enroll this fall, despite consistently falling short of expectations.

“This past fall, we brought in 18 more students, and though we saw a dip in the spring, we still held a high number. In fact, it was our second largest spring in the past six years,” Keith Lamb, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, said.

The university has not been able to reach the amount of students it did in 2003, the peak year for enrollment with 6,480 students.

“We have experienced a decline overall for the last 10 years, but since 2013, our numbers have increased. It’s a slow and steady growth,” Lamb said. “We are in the bottom half when compared to the other schools in our conference, but we are also experiencing some overall growth that will hopefully keep bringing our numbers up.”

When comparing it to the other nine universities in the Lone Star Conference, MSU remains the third smallest school in enrollment, with 5,718 students this spring and 6,064 in the fall.

Recruitment and expansion

More programs have been added to assure the recruitment of a larger number of students for this fall and the upcoming years. According to Lamb, more students from the Dallas-Fort Worth area are interested in coming to MSU.

“We are reaching out more. We have a robust tour program and we are doing college visits in the Dallas-Fort Worth area where students from the area can come to us,” Lamb said.

In addition to the tour programs, the MSU partnership with North Central Texas College will continue the school’s expansion into the Dallas-Fort Worth area according to Admissions Associate Director Leah Hickman.

“Instead of just sending out notifications, we are on the move trying to implement programs that will hopefully attract more students to our university and get our name out there which is what the Flower Mound campus will do,” Hickman said.

The expansion to Flower Mound is part of University President Suzanne Shipley’s goal to increase the enrollment in the university by 2,000 students in time for the university’s 100th anniversary in 2022. She said she hopes to have an additional 1,500 students at off-campus locations and at least 500 more on campus.

“The development at Flower Mound will, without a doubt, help us expand along with our new texting software we will be implementing to recruit students,” Lamb said.

University officials purchased the names of 100,000 high school seniors to send notifications of the Midwestern State programs via text message in addition to the emails that have been used when reaching out to high-schoolers and building relationships with them.

Retention through academics

Students continue to find the quality programs and majors along with the interesting and marketable minors MSU offers attractive, according to James Johnston, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs.

“We hold true to our commitment to excellence academically which will keep students coming to our school,” Johnston said.

Mica Schneider, mass communication freshman, said she believes her education is of high quality and she finds herself challenged by the rigorous courses.

“I came to MSU not only for the opportunity to play sports, but also because I knew the extremely good academic programs it offers,” Schneider said. “All my teachers put a lot of effort into their lessons and do the best they can to teach us the material we actually need to know. I think that more students are coming here for the great education we get for such a great cost, and without a doubt, will continue to bring students to our school from everywhere.”

Failing to meet the quota

With this spring’s decline in enrollment, MSU will have about $100,000 less income.

“$100,000 doesn’t seem like that much when looking at the $110 million budget,” Lamb said.

And Lamb attributed the decline in enrollment to a high graduation rate.

“We graduated 26 more students, which greatly impacts our spring semester,” he said.

Nevertheless, he expects an increase in enrollment this fall, expecting 6,100 students partly due to an increased acceptance rate.

According to Hickman, more applications are being received.

“We have received more applications this year than before, so we were able to accept more students,” Hickman said.

According to Johnston, the acceptance rate has nothing to do with academic excellence.

“If students need help to be college ready we work hard to provide those services, but we expect the same level of excellence that we’ve always expected,” Johnston said.