Has the bleeding stopped for SIU Carbondale?

Southern Illinois University Carbondale has released its figures on Wednesday showing declining enrollment again this fall. However, there is good news according to a top university official who says that the pace of decline has slowed and has positioned the campus for a comeback. Chancellor John Dunn said, “We are gaining traction and moving in the right direction.”

Last year’s enrollment was 12,817 and this year’s enrollment is 11,695 indicating an 8.75 percent decline. The figure may look bad but it is a positive one as last year’s enrollment was down 12 percent from the 14,554 the previous year. The Chancellor has said that the slow declining is due to the hard work of the faculty and staff as it was fear that the drop would be more than the actual one.

Dunn has shared some details of the figure as he says that the number of graduate and transfer students has remained at the same level as last year’s fall. The drop-in students are in first-time students. They have dropped by less than 100 to 1,037 students which shows a declination of 8.5 percent. Dunn, along with a news release, said in a statement that “We graduated a relatively large class of nearly 2,600 students in the spring.”

He has credited the growing enrollment of transfer students to “outstanding efforts to connect with our community-college partners and identify pathways for our transfer students.” There is another good news as the incoming freshmen are delivering good results as the average ACT score of them has risen to 24.4 while last year’s average was 23.7. This is the best average SIUC has registered in 20 years.

The good news doesn’t stop there as the freshman-to-sophomore retention rate has risen from 71 to 75 percent this fall. This means that 75 percent of last year’s freshmen have returned to the institution this year to continue their course. Dunn added that “Enrollment is as much about retaining students as it is about attracting new students.”

Senior writer at the Chicago Morning Star

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