Spring enrollment increases; officials look forward to fall

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Spring enrollment is up, but Dixie State University officials are on the edge of their seats for fall.

According to the “Spring 2015 Third Week Headcount Enrollment Report” from the Utah System of Higher Education, there is no consistent growth between institutions throughout the state, but total headcount at DSU has risen 1.4 percent since last spring. 

The total headcount at DSU is 7,532, which is an increase of just over 100 students. 

Full-time equivalent enrollment is also up 1.7 percent, which means if every student at DSU was enrolled in 15 credits, there would be 5,639.8 students attending.

Andrea Brown, director of institutional research, said DSU’s competitors gave it a run for its money.

“There were some heavy hitters,” she said.

In terms of headcount, Southern Utah University is up almost 6 percent, Snow College is up just over 7.5 percent, and Utah Valley University is up 6.2 percent. Enrollment at the University of Utah fell .6 percent, and Salt Lake Community College saw a 4 percent decrease. Utah State University and Weber Sate University both saw incremental increases.

Brown said enrollment at DSU has improved slightly this semester because the institution is making big changes that look more attractive to incoming freshmen and seniors who DSU are keeping longer.

“In general, our enrollment is set to grow as we add programs and expand degree offerings at [DSU],” Brown said. “As we continue to work on things like our quality and specialized accreditations, we will continue to see growth.”

Although spring enrollment is looking up, headcount in fall 2014 was 8,570, which is a decrease of just over 1,000 students.

Brown said next fall is the real big question. She said enrollment at institutions across the state fell in 2012 when a large portion of students who belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints went on missions.

“We all took hits when the missionaries left, and we’re expecting to grow 6.8 percent next fall (when they come home),” Brown said.

Despite the optimistic projections, Brown said the institution is always in a position to enroll more students. 

“More students mean more money,” she said. “You always have to bring more students in regardless of where growth is. It’s too competitive.” 

David Roos, executive director of enrollment management, said although there are early indicators of an influx next fall, he still plans to have strong recruitment marketing techniques. He said recruiting for the spring class is tricky. 

“[Enrollment] wasn’t as good as we were hoping in the spring,” he said. 

However, Roos said officials were pleased with fall 2014 enrollment because some administrators weren’t expecting much.

“Our former President [Stephen] Nadauld said we would be lucky to break even,” Roos said. “We were happy in the fall.”

There is going to be a struggle over the next several years as the institution continues to grow, Brown said. Departments are going to see a push and pull in terms of upper and lower-division courses, and she said DSU is going to have to work to balance what courses are being offered so it fits each level of its students. 

Brown said DSU must become more strategic and work on prioritization in departmental enrollment issues to manage the projected growth. 

“Our job is to try and help [departments] predict how many students will be enrolled in their program in the fall and help decide how many sections of each course should be offered to meet that demand,” she said. 

Campus officials are optimistic for fall, Brown said. Seeing that enrollment is up slightly this spring gives hope those projections will hold true.

“All of us here in Utah are on pins and needles waiting to see how fall enrollment looks,” she said.