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SHSU Fall '98 Enrollment DropsEnrollment at Sam Houston State University for the 1998 fall semester is 12,208, down by 505 students from the 1997 fall semester figure of 12,713.
SHSU officials said a decrease had been anticipated because the university discontinued a conditional admissions program that did not work well. They speculated that other factors may have also contributed, including growth of nearby Montgomery College.
"We do not like having fewer students," said Bobby K. Marks, Sam Houston president, "but the policy change was the right thing to do for our academic programs."
Under the discontinued admissions program, freshmen students who did not meet SHSU's admission requirements were allowed to enter during the fall and spring semesters on the condition that they pass 12 semester hours. That policy was changed in February, requiring students to qualify by attending two summer semesters at SHSU or to transfer work from a community college.
"Encouraging this work to be done during summers and at area community colleges promotes more efficient use of SHSU's limited financial resources for remediation programs," said Marks. "Of the 456 students who attempted to qualify for admission in the 1996 and 1997 fall semesters, less than one in four were successful."
An official at Montgomery College, which is centered in one of SHSU's top recruiting areas -- Montgomery and north Harris counties -- said they had not yet tabulated a final fall enrollment figure, but were expecting to be up by more than 300 students, to about 4,700. That increase was lower than the college's previous fall semesters.
A check with other Texas higher education institutions showed small enrollment increases at Angelo State, Lamar, and Stephen F. Austin, and a decrease at Sul Ross. The SFA increase was less than 100, giving them an enrollment of 12,132.
Another possible factor given by SHSU officials for the decline in SHSU numbers involved a law enacted this fall allowing students in the top 10 percent of their graduating class to enroll in any state university.
"I believe that we lost some students who might not have qualified for schools like Texas A&M and Texas, but did so under the new law," said Joey Chandler, director of admissions/recruiting.
Also cited as a possible affect on enrollment was a change in the Texas Academic Skills Program (TASP) requirements. Under the TASP change, students could not enroll if they had not taken the TASP test. In previous years they were allowed to enroll and take the exam during their first semester. Chandler's office administered "quick TASPs" to 88 students, but she said there may have been others who were not aware of the change until too late.
Marks said that the SHSU enrollment picture reminds him somewhat of the stock market -- hard to predict in the short term but healthy overall over the long term.
"In the past 30 years, we've had 20 fall increases and 10 decreases," he said. "But over that period we've grown by almost 60 percent, and we're confident that we'll continue this steady long term growth in the future."
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