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Delta State University announced today a slight increase in its official enrollment for the fall 2013 semester after statewide numbers were released by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.
Overall enrollment rose by 0.5 percent at Delta State with an increase of 22 students this year. The total enrollment currently amounts to 4,785, up from 4,763 during the fall 2012 semester.
The 4,785 total enrollment figure reflects the number of students regularly enrolled at Delta State, plus those enrolled through the Teach For America (TFA) program. Teach For America brings students from across the nation to campus for courses that prepare them for teaching in Delta schools and beyond. Due to the success of the program, the number of TFA students attending Delta State has doubled since its initial year in 2010.
An increase of 116 TFA students offsets a decline of 94 regularly enrolled students, believed to be caused by changes in the Pell Grant program and by other factors such as marketing, recruitment, and retention challenges that are being aggressively addressed under the leadership of Delta State University President William N. LaForge.
Across the state’s eight public universities, preliminary fall 2013 enrollment figures show a decrease of 506 students from fall 2012 numbers. However, more than 80,000 Mississippi students are working toward building a successful career and brighter future by pursuing a college degree.
“While the decrease system-wide is small, it does demonstrate that the changes in the Pell Grant program are having an impact on the decisions students are making,” said Dr. Hank M. Bounds, Commissioner of Higher Education.
Delta State has also experienced an increase in a variety of on-campus functions. Julie Jackson, director of Housing and Residence Life, said the number of students living on campus has increased steadily over the past few years.
“This year we have 954 students living in the residence halls and campus apartments, as opposed to 933 in 2012,” said Jackson. “We are thrilled about another increase and hope to continue down this path.”
Christy Riddle, executive director of the Student Success Center, said the international student population has expanded since last year. In the fall of 2012, the program had 64 students from 21 countries. This year’s totals are 82 students from 32 countries. The university is also developing strategies to recruit international students much more aggressively going forward.
Elsie Lynn Ervin and Michael Lipford, staff advisors for the university’s Greek system, also reported significant growth in sorority and fraternity membership.
The most encouraging numbers for Delta State were in the area of first time students. Delta State saw an increase of six percent in the combined total of first time freshmen and first time transfer students. “I am encouraged by the increase of first time students,” commented LaForge. “It demonstrates that we are successfully attracting new students to campus. We are redoubling our recruiting efforts this year to include a new information management system, more targeted recruiting strategies, a new focus on international and out-of-state students, increased marketing in select recruitment areas, and more engagement with faculty and alumni in recruiting students.”
The one area that showed a decrease was in the retention numbers for undergraduate students. “I am disappointed in our retention numbers, and we are focusing major attention on curing this problem. The addition of a Student Success Center, more and better faculty advisement and mentoring, and new strategies to help guide students through to graduation should all help improve our retention rates in the year ahead,” added LaForge.
Despite decreases at some fellow Mississippi institutions, Bounds remains hopeful that commitment from the schools will help lead to future enrollment surges.
“Our universities have worked hard to keep costs down and increase efficiencies,” said Bounds. “However, the numbers show that we must do all we can to help our students attain a college degree.
“The investment made today will provide a tremendous return to the state as these students graduate, enter the workforce and become the innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders of tomorrow.”
For additional information on enrollment at Delta State, or to learn more about the application process, contact the Office of Admissions and Recruiting at 662-846-4020.
Interested students can apply online at www.deltastate.edu.