Preliminary enrollment numbers show that Murray State may increase to 11,000 students by the end of October with the potential to grow even more in the next few years.
While numbers will continue to fluctuate due to students enrolling in and withdrawing from classes, universities are not required to submit confirmed figures to the Commonwealth of Kentucky until Oct. 25.
Along with the incoming freshmen, transfer students have also increased the numbers.
Brianna Willis, junior from Memphis, Tenn., transferred to Murray State from Webster University for the history program after changing her majors from English and Creative Writing.
“The only thing I would want to change is the First Year Leaders,” she said. “Yes, I’m new but at the same time I’m not new to college.”
Willis said the enrollment process was not complicated overall. She said the ease of the process only made coming to Murray State more pleasing for her.
Fred Dietz, associate vice president of enrollment management, said enrollment has been consistently grown in the past year and Murray State is already approximately 3 percent above last year’s enrollment at this point in the semester.
“It’s always a good thing to be ahead of last year rather than looking at where those students went,” Dietz said. “That’s encouraging.”
Dietz said student numbers vary particularly during the first few weeks of classes because of the drop or add period.
During this time, some students realize they no longer see Murray State as a good fit for them and will transfer to a new university.
On the other hand, some students from other colleges will transfer to Murray State.
However, Dietz said an additional factor to the change in preliminary enrollment numbers is the purging of students who have not paid their tuition bills below $200 or have not enrolled in a payment plan to pay their tuition.
“Those students are not in the count,” he said. “So, what we do for the next two months is try to get them back in. There’s a lot that happens in the first 10 days of school (regarding enrollment).”
The preliminary numbers show that the University has a high chance of going over the 11,000 mark of total students enrolled, which is a number of students the University has never had before.
The freshman class is expected to total more than 1,500 students.
In 2012, the University saw its largest confirmed growth in the freshmen class.
There was a 6.5 percent increase of freshmen in 2012 compared to 2011.
It is unclear at this time how many students the University can hold. Further testing by University administration will be done to confirm totals.
While numbers increase, University officials feel confident that growth won’t reach total capacity for a few more years.
The residential colleges have a capacity of approximately 3,000 students and a new Franklin Residential College is set to begin construction March 2015, which will add more space.
As the numbers increase, University officials and President Bob Davies will have to evaluate when and what measures to take when the school comes closer to its overall capacity.
“Dr. Davies is looking at what is a strategic plan and what is the right fit for Murray State,” Dietz said. “That’s something that we’re probably going back to tackling in the course of the next year.”
Dietz said he believes the University has the facilities to accept more students, but there needs to be more personnel to appropriately handle such growth.
Dietz said 12,000 students might be the total amount the University can handle. There is no official number for the University’s capacity.
Enrollment management and administration have remained optimistic regarding the 11,000-student milestone and a growing campus.
Story by Mary Bradley, Assistant News Editor