Freshmen enrollment on the rise

By Gus Bode

Chancellor Rita Cheng said there is a connection between enrollment and the campus budget.

“Over the course of 18 years, we’ve got $10 million lost to the campus each year based on the enrollment decline,” she said.

At the SIU Board of Trustees meeting Aug. 17 Cheng said freshmen enrollment is up 149 students, or 7 percent, from 2010. While official enrollment numbers have not been released, Cheng said recruitment and marketing efforts directed toward prospective students might have influenced an increase in incoming students.


“Social media is huge,” Cheng said. “We are doing everything from translating our web pages into Chinese for our international recruitment as well as making sure that we have a Facebook linked in and all those other presences that are familiar to young people.”

About 400,000 prospective students were sent SIUC advertising materials and 27,000 phone calls were a part of the “largest campaign in SIU history” this summer, Cheng said.

In addition, increased marketing adjustments were made in the admissions department in order to recruit high school students.

Previously, high schools were visited by different admissions counselors during the school year. Now, Cheng said, admissions counselors work with students based on location.

This change may be partially responsible for the enrollment increase, said Katherine Johnson Suski, interim director of undergraduate admissions.

“I think it helps because it gives possible students a chance to develop relationships with their counselor,” Suski said.

Suski said the admissions department held a recruiting event during the summer in Chicago for incoming students who applied or were admitted in order to secure the retention of these students in person.


While recruiting efforts have been partially credited for the possible increase in freshmen enrollment, some freshmen on campus said it was by the recommendation of someone they know that led them to SIUC.

Megan James, a freshmen from Deerfield studying animal science, said she chose SIUC because she has several friends who attend the university and recommended the university and because she received information from the admissions department.

“I got a bunch of stuff in the mail, because I signed on for the e-mail list, but I chose SIU because I have friends down here,” she said.

Gina Perez, a freshman from Waukegan studying psychology, said her decision to attend came after she noticed a trend of students from her high school choose SIUC.

“I heard it was really nice down here, and it is,” she said. “It’s not like the city.”

Freshmen students may account for the bulk of new students on campus, but a portion of new students have transferred from junior colleges. From 2001 to 2010, the number of enrolled undergraduate transfers decreased steadily by 10 percent according to the Institutional Research and Studies fact book.

Cheng also said at the board of trustees meeting that transfer enrollment was up by 1 percent.

Lucas Veach, a junior from Quincy studying hospitality and tourism administration, said he transferred to SIUC in 2010 because he knew a student who attended the university.

He said he has noticed an increase in marketing toward students.

Assistant to the Chancellor for Media Relations Rod Sievers said the numbers of enrolled freshmen are subject to change as an official count will be announced 10 days after the semester begins.