Since I started at SIU Carbondale in July 2020, we have made strides to increase our visibility through marketing and outreach in many places, including the Southern Illinois region. We are proud to call this area home, and we want students from this region to imagine themselves achieving their goals on our beautiful campus.
We have cultivated – and sometimes repaired – relationships with local schools and organizations. We held virtual meetings and personal visits, including congratulating Chancellor’s Scholars in person at their schools.
On the 10th day of fall classes, we learned our efforts paid off. Enrollment of new students from this region increased almost 34% from 2020 and is nearly double what it was in 2019. While we are pleased with the result, this is no time to rest.
As we continue to respond to COVID-19, we understand there is nothing like seeing our campus for yourself, even if you live in this area. This often seals the deal for students. In recent weeks, our university has safely hosted in-person events for future students, especially those in the Southern Illinois region, to get to know us better.
In July and October, we welcomed hundreds of students to our open houses based in Banterra Center. Activities included games, a student panel, campus tours, housing tours, academic showcases and a resource fair. University leaders, faculty and staff were on site to answer questions.
On Oct. 20, we held our first in-person SIU Day since 2019. About 430 students from 11 area high schools toured of the campus, met faculty and got a close look at academic programs at various locales around campus.
We are planning to hold our final admissions open house of the fall semester on Nov. 6, and we’re planning more events for spring.
While the fall 2022 recruitment cycle is well underway, we need to think further into the future, guided by our new strategic plan Imagine 2030. The plan’s five pillars include student success and engagement as well as branding and partnerships.
That means we must go beyond marketing, advertising and visits to our campus. The partnerships we made this year with Carbondale School District 95 and Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois will allow us to plant the seeds of an SIU education early.
We are also making connections with community colleges. Our agreements with Shawnee Community College will allow students to seamlessly continue their education with us, whether they do it on our campus or remain in their hometowns.
As we move ahead, our capable marketing and admissions staff will keep promoting what we have to offer future students throughout Illinois, the nation and the world. And we will continue to forge partnerships in Southern Illinois, St. Louis and the Metro East, Chicago and other communities.
Yet we also want students in our own neighborhood to know they are welcome and wanted at SIU Carbondale. They can get a world-class education, personal attention and unique opportunities close to home.