September 04, 2019

SIU Carbondale enrollment reflects increase in retention

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s fall 2019 enrollment data shows a strong freshman class and an increase in the freshman to sophomore retention rate.

Overall, total enrollment is 11,695, down 8.75 percent from fall 2018.

The decline was less than anticipated thanks to the hard work of faculty and staff, according to Chancellor John M. Dunn.

“We graduated a relatively large class of nearly 2,600 students in the spring,” he said. “We knew we were starting from a significant deficit at the same time we are reengineering our recruitment and retention efforts.”

Dunn said the number of transfer and graduate students stayed relatively flat, while the number of new, first-time students decreased by fewer than 100 to 1,037, an 8.47 percent decline. He added that new programs in nursing, business analytics and other areas will help close this gap in the future.

He attributed the steady transfer enrollment to “outstanding efforts to connect with our community college partners and identify pathways for our transfer students.”

“The picture for first-time students and graduate students is significantly improved over the last two years, signaling that we are gaining traction and moving in the right direction,” he added.

Dunn said an increase in the average ACT scores for new students, as well as growth in the freshman to sophomore retention rate, are other bright spots in SIU’s enrollment picture. The average ACT score for the new incoming class was 24.40, up from last year’s more than 20-year record of 23.65. The freshman to sophomore retention rate is 75 percent, compared to 71 percent in fall 2018.

“Enrollment is as much about retaining students as it is about attracting new students,” Dunn said. “We are working hard at both. We are focusing on giving students professional-level, hands-on experience to complement their coursework, and we are adding new, high-demand programs in fields like nursing and business analytics.

“We’re also continuing our focus on support services such as academic advising,” he added, “and this fall we’ve opened the First Saluki Center to support first-generation students.”

Other enrollment related facts:

  • New freshman and transfer students represent 42 states and 20 countries.
  • The top 10 majors of new freshmen and transfer students are animal science, automotive technology, aviation flight, biological sciences, business, criminology and criminal justice, mechanical engineering, psychology, radiologic sciences and zoology.
  • About 25 percent of all students are minority, and about 8 percent are international.