September 25, 2015 12:45PM
Mirroring a trend across the state of Kansas this fall, Pittsburg State University reported today a 3.1 percent decrease in total headcount for the fall semester. The official enrollment as of the 20th day of classes is 7,244, compared to 7,479 last year.
“It’s disappointing, especially in light of five straight years of record fall enrollment,” said PSU President Steve Scott, “but it wasn’t unexpected. Even so, we’re not content with the results and are working on new initiatives to help us move forward.”
It was a similar story across Kansas where most state universities reported declines or flat enrollments. Kansas State University reported the biggest drop of 620 students. Wichita State was down 508 and Emporia State off 20.
Many of the state’s 19 community colleges also reported declining enrollment with the total number of community college students in Kansas down by 2,165. In Southeast Kansas, Coffeyville Community College, Independence Community College and Fort Scott Community College were up by 132, 33, and 36 respectively, but Allen Community College, Neosho County Community College and Labette Community College were down, ranging from 391 at Allen to 12 at Labette.
At PSU, officials said there was some encouraging news in the report, including another large freshman class this year of 1,049.
“It’s a strong number,” said Lee Young, associate vice president for enrollment management and student success. “Because of our retention efforts we’ll likely see more of these students stay in Pittsburg to graduate as Gorillas. In fact, more than 1,700 students last year earned their degrees from Pittsburg State, a new record for our university.”
Young said there are a number of factors that may have affected the numbers in addition to a record number of recent graduates. Those include challenging demographics, particularly in the rural counties of Kansas; the first year of new, more stringent statewide admission requirements; and an improving economy, which may affect graduate enrollment.
“There is encouraging data in the report,” said Young. “Our Gorilla Advantage and Gorilla Edge enrollment continues to increase, international enrollment remains strong and our new freshman numbers are good. We are also very happy to see our retention efforts paying off.”
University officials believe the combination of recent campus improvements and thoughtful planning will help attract the attention of new students and families well into the future.
“The recent completion of our three new facilities has us well positioned to attract the attention of students and families well into the future,” Scott said. “It’s also important to note that our new strategic plan embraces a future focused on student success and well-managed growth.”
Young said high school students studying the new federal college scorecard will find lots of reasons to choose Pittsburg State in addition to nationally accredited and several highly ranked academic programs.
“Pitt State looks very good on the scorecard,” Young said, “with well below-average costs, and graduation rates and salaries for graduates that exceed the national average.”
Young said the university is still studying the fall data and will use the information to target areas of potential growth.
“Historically, enrollment at PSU has trended upward over the past 20 years, but it’s not a straight line,” Young said. “There are years when we fall back a little. The goal, over time, is to continue that trajectory and we’re going to work harder than ever to do just that.”
For more information, including a spreadsheet detailing enrollments across the Kansas Regents’ system.