Although it’s too early to make specific projections for fall 2021, the numbers so far are promising, thanks to the efforts of Salukis across campus, in our community and across the nation.
I am really excited to see so many people have made enrollment a top priority and are working very hard to encourage prospective and admitted students to become future Salukis. I am also grateful for the efforts to help students become graduates and set them on a path for success as alumni.
Spring is a critical time for admitted students – they are making their final decisions. We want them to choose SIU Carbondale.
As you are likely aware, this process takes months and months of work from all across campus. Targeted advertising for specific academic programs showcase SIU’s offerings, and we have seen a positive correlation between the ads and the number of applications. As part of a strategy to attract and intentionally engage future students, professionals in Admissions follow up with students who apply to ensure their submissions are complete and answer any questions.
We discuss the hands-on learning and personal attention SIU provides. We talk about unique opportunities, including research projects available only to grad students elsewhere.
We communicate how we are doing everything we can to improve access to higher education. We have launched the Saluki Commitment and the Saluki Transfer Commitment for eligible new Illinois students – our pledge to close the gap for tuition and mandatory fees after students receive financial aid. And students who live outside Illinois pay the same tuition as in-state families. Children of alumni may also qualify for a 20% tuition discount.
Because many students want to see where they will study and socialize in person, we found a safe way to allow future students and their families to see our beautiful campus for themselves. The groups are small, and they follow the health and safety protocols of the Restore Illinois plan.
Still, the pandemic forced us to refrain from many in-person gatherings, and we have found innovative ways to connect. Students can visit campus virtually. Colleges have held webinars for future Salukis. And I am pleased to see our faculty have gotten more involved. Throughout campus, faculty have made many phone calls to admitted students and sent them hundreds of handwritten postcards.
Our professors are crucial to this partnership and can help seal the deal. Advertising can pique students’ interests, and recruiters can bring in students. But the people behind these efforts are not experts in specific academic disciplines. Faculty can articulate better than anyone else about the subjects they teach, the research they conduct and answer students’ questions about creativity, science or other fields they hope to pursue.
Every week, the university leadership team discusses enrollment. We take nothing for granted in our own region, the state or Saluki Nation. It’s why I made a personal visit to Carbondale Community High School to congratulate a recipient of the Chancellor’s Scholarship. It’s why in March we announced our plans for in-person classes this fall, based on the information we have now.
Equally important to recruitment is retention. We have made several investments to help our students succeed from the moment they arrive on our campus.
We opened the First Saluki Center as a resource for the 40% of students who are the first in their families to attend college. For all students, we have invested in software to better track their progress, improved advising, revamped a course introducing students to university life and revised the University Core Curriculum. We also implemented an early warning system to reach out to students who might be struggling during those critical first few weeks of the semester.
Growing enrollment is a collective endeavor. Working together, we can reach a bright future.