Official spring enrollment totals bring more good news related to retention. Nearly 91 percent of the first-time freshmen who enrolled at SIU Carbondale in the fall returned to continue their education in the spring semester. This is the highest fall-to-spring-retention rate for new students in at least 10 years and reflects an increase of 5 percentage points in just four years.
Thanks to all of our faculty and staff who have focused on engaging students even before they arrive on campus to make sure they become a part of the Saluki community. Efforts to connect students to their academic homes early and the continued commitment to making sure all students have the tools they need to succeed are paying off.
More positive signals
Fall to spring retention rates are just one positive signal for future enrollment. You’ll recall that our fall freshman to sophomore retention rates also reflected significant growth, and the ACT scores of freshmen reached a high of at least 20 years.
In December, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs advised trustees that fall 2020 applications for first-time freshmen and the number of admitted first-time students were up more than 20 percent each. Transfer student applications and admissions were also up. Currently, while graduate applications are down, admissions are steady.
While the numbers and percentages will continue to fluctuate right up until we announce our official fall enrollment, we have very good reasons to be optimistic.
Understanding the numbers
Beyond helping us track the fall-to-spring retention rates of first-time freshmen, spring enrollment figures do not typically offer any new insights into future enrollment trends. That’s because new and transfer students almost always enroll in the summer or fall rather than the spring. Typically, the percentage change in year-to-year spring enrollment closely aligns with fall, and this year is no different.
Total enrollment for spring semester is 10,779, an 8.61 percent decrease over spring 2019. The percentage decline correlates with the 8.75 percent decline for fall 2019, when 11,695 students were enrolled. More than 1,100 students graduated in December, largely accounting for the difference between fall and spring.
A community effort
SIU has launched a range of new initiatives to increase student engagement and success that are making a positive difference. From additional outreach to new strategies to the increased engagement of our faculty and staff, we are making a difference. I have often said that recruitment and retention is everyone’s responsibility, and I thank you for taking that responsibility seriously.