A new school year brings a plethora of new opportunities as well as challenges. This year as MSUM sees a decrease in enrollment, staff is looking to this challenge as an opportunity.
Diane Solinger, the vice president for enrollment management, said although the enrollment is lower than last year – about 5.9 percent – a lot of factors play into that data. Compared to last year, MSUM’s freshmen enrollment has stayed about the same, the number of international students has risen and transfer student enrollment is up about 7 percent. It’s the number of returning students that has dropped.
“We had roughly 200 more students graduate in the spring compared to the previous year,” Solinger said. “A lot of the reason why we have less returning students this fall is because we had so many graduate.”
Solinger explained that the numbers from this year are from the first day of classes and a second count of enrolled students will be administered sometime after the tenth day of classes. A rise in numbers is expected.
The decrease in enrollment is an opportunity to understand why some students have left, and this will hopefully prevent more from leaving in the future.
MSUM recently bought a new computer program called Map Works, that allows administration to track retention of students by providing a view of what’s really going on with a student through different aspects of their college life. These aspects include: the student’s adviser, whether they live on campus and if they are a student athlete. The hope is that this program will not only allow administration to figure out why students decide to leave but to hopefully intervene and help the student.
“I think students leave for a lot of different reasons,” Solinger said. “Sometimes it’s financial, sometimes it’s because a student is really homesick, sometimes it’s because a student figures out what they really want to do and we don’t have that program. It could be that some students don’t feel like they have a good sense of direction about what their goals are.
“Those are the things that we want to be able to help them figure out,” Solinger continued. “We want them to know that they don’t have to drop out to figure it out. They can stay and we can help them figure that out.”
There are many places on campus that are provided to help students along their way. The career development center and the academic support center are just two options, both located in Flora Frick.
As far as student admissions go, Sarah Nissen, interim director of admissions, is satisfied with the number of incoming freshmen.
“We are very happy with our numbers for this year,” Nissen said. “We will keep encouraging students and communicating with them to enroll in classes.”
BY KRISTIN KIRTZ