Registration up, freshmen numbers may vary

Preliminary data from the Enrollment Management Department at Murray State shows increases in transfer and freshman applications, undergraduate acceptance and summer orientation registration as compared to this time last year.

Fall 2012 freshmen and transfer undergraduate applications for admission are up 4.15 percent over this time last year, while fall 2012 freshmen and transfer acceptances are up 5 percent. Freshmen registered to participate in summer orientation is up 4 percent.

Fred Dietz, executive director of Enrollment Management, said early indications in registration looked promising for University enrollment and high school students are taking advantage of early scheduling by registering ahead for summer orientation.

The first summer orientation for next year’s freshman was held this past weekend and was one of the largest orientations to date with 434 students completing registration.

“Students like to take advantage of early scheduling,” Dietz said. “The remaining summer O dates are in June and July and are filling up nicely.”

Although Dietz is optimistic, the University could see enrollment flat-line or decline for the 2012-13 school year as early estimates project the student population nearing but not exceeding 11,000.

After the Council for Postsecondary Education released enrollment trends last September, President Randy Dunn amended his goal of 12,000 students by 2012 to 11,000 by 2012.

Murray State, which boasts an average 72 percent first-year retention rate, recorded final enrollment numbers for fall 2011 at 10,623. An increase of 3.6 percent in enrollment is required to push the school population above 11,000 for next year.

On April 20, the CPE set a 5 percent cap on tuition increases for comprehensive universities, meaning tuition increases cannot exceed this levee.

This benchmark comes on the heels of a 6.4 percent budget cut to education, removing more than $3 million in funding over the next two years for the University.

The Board of Regents will meet today in special session to discuss the issues surrounding tuition.

CPE President Bob King said while the economy is still in a difficult position, the CPE could not sit by allowing the quality of academic programs and services to deteriorate.

“These are difficult economic times all around,” King said.

He said they understood that raising tuition, even at moderate levels, causes concern for students.

Paul Naberezny, lecturer-coordinator in the Counseling and Testing Center, said analysis after the fall semester showed a possible 20 percent loss in freshman retention, an 8 percent increase from the University average. He said the statistics for the spring will be available at the end of the semester.

Bonnie Higginson, vice president of Academic Affairs, said heavier losses occur during the winter holiday.

Said Higginson: “Many students for whatever reason, sometimes academic but often for personal reasons, don’t come back in the spring.”