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Slight increase in SHSU's fall enrollment

By Michelle C. Lyons/The Huntsville Item

It may not be a significant increase, but it's an increase nonetheless - after a dramatic drop in fall enrollment numbers last year, Sam Houston State University is looking at a small climb in student enrollment this year.

SHSU's fall 1999 enrollment as of Wednesday was 12,215 - up seven students from fall 1998.

"After last fall's decrease, we are happy to show an increase this year," said SHSU President Bobby K. Marks. "We are looking hard to improve the quality of Sam Houston State University's academic product and educational experience, and we believe students are responding."

Marks said while he knows the increase wasn't much, it's an improvement over the significant decrease in enrollment the university saw between the fall of 1997 and 1998, when enrollment was down by 501 students.

Marks speculates there are a number of reasons why SHSU's enrollment took a dive in the last few years, including last year's tightening of admissions standards. He also cites the recent opening of Montgomery College only about 30 miles south.

Many underclassmen are choosing to attend Montgomery College to get basic courses out of the way, he said, adding that immediately before Montgomery College first opened, SHSU's enrollment was about to surpass the 13,000 mark.

After Montgomery College's opening, SHSU began to see a decline, Marks said.

He points out that, aside from the fact that Montgomery College's tuition and fees are about half those at SHSU, most of SHSU's student population - about 20 percent - commute into Huntsville, and most of those commuters are coming from the south.

"Most of the students that commute into Sam Houston are coming from that area," he said. "So if they have the opportunity to take freshman and sophomore courses down there, that saves them the expense and time and effort of having to commute here.

"I hope we've turned the corner on the impact of Montgomery College," he continued.

In the meantime, SHSU officials are continuing to work to raise enrollment numbers by stepping up their recruitment efforts.

Joey Chandler, director of undergraduate admissions, said SHSU has been advertising during the movie previews at several Texas movie cinemas, including one in The Woodlands, Mesquite, Grapevine and three other Houston-area locations.

"It's hard to gauge (the success of the advertisements)," she said. "but we've had a lot of good, positive response from faculty and current students who've seen them."

Chandler adds that this was the second year SHSU advertised in "Texas Monthly," and the first year the university advertised in "Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education" and "Our Texas."

Plus, only a week ago, Chandler hired a new South Texas admissions representative - a former SHSU graduate who will concentrate not only on boosting the recruitment of students from the San Antonio and South Texas area, but who also will focus on raising minority enrollment.

Other Texas universities of comparable size are giving varied reports of their fall 1999 enrollment.

While Southwest Texas State University is reporting a slight increase, Stephen F. Austin State University's fall enrollment is down by about 1.76 percent, or 213 students, for a total of 11,919.

Lamar University officials said Lamar's enrollment seems to be almost the same as last year's, although no figures were available.

- END -

SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
September 16, 1999
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