Largest freshman class in 5-years enrolled at SIU

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 9:58 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2021 at 5:32 PM CDT
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CARBONDALE, Ill. (KFVS) - Southern Illinois University is seeing the largest number of freshman enrolled on campus for the first time in five years.

According to the university, 1,422 Salukis are starting their college career for the 2021 fall semester.

This is an increase of 4.5 percent.

”We think we’re on to something and we’d like to get even better with the fall 2022 incoming class,” said SIU Carbondale Chancellor Austin Lane.

It’s Lane’s second fall semester leading Southern Illinois University. He said he was focused on enrollment during his first year.

“Hats off to our faculty, our staff, our students, our alums even chipped in,” Lane said.

Lane said he’s proud this team effort stopped what he called the downward spiral of enrollment numbers over the past five years.

And freshman Anthony Stanczak-Rajcok is excited to see so many new faces joining him on campus.

“It makes me feel good because I did hear that enrollment was going down so I figured that classes would start getting smaller but so far every event I’ve been to has been packed so its pretty incredible,” Stanczak-Rajcok said.

That feeling’s echoed by upperclassmen as well.

“Last year campus was really dead so I’m excited to see it alive, I’m excited to see more people,” Jayla Butler said.

“It’s good that the enrollment is high, higher now, I think that’s really good for the school and I hope it continues to be that way,” Kyra Dickerson said.

Lane wants these new students to take advantage of everything the campus has to offer.

“Making sure that they know what it means to be a saluki and having that pride goes a long way with retaining students from one semester to the next,” he said.

Lane said the increase and other trends show the college is moving in the right direction:

  • For the first time since 2014, the university has increased its freshman class for two consecutive years, and it did that during a pandemic. COVID-19 prevented recruiters from visiting high schools and community colleges in-person.
  • About three-fourths of last year’s freshmen, 75.5 percent, returned this fall.
  • The number of new transfers increased 3.5 percent over last year to 1,175 students.
  • The student population is diverse with about 36 percent identifying as a minority, which is almost evenly divided among men and women.
  • Enrollment from the southern Illinois region increased nearly 34 percent from the previous year.

“Our faculty, staff, students and alums have gone above and beyond to change the downward trajectory of the declines we have experienced since 2016,” said Lane. “I want to personally thank each of them for rallying around enrollment and working tirelessly to show the unique opportunities future Salukis have. Today’s news is the result of all that effort.”

SIU credits the positive results with creating an enrollment task force, partnering with local and statewide schools and colleges, restructuring scholarships and offering financial aid programs earlier.

“We will analyze the data further and see where we can improve, especially as the recruitment cycle for fall 2022 gets underway,” Lane said. “Today, Salukis everywhere have good reason to be proud.”

Since 2016, SIU Carbondale reported steep declines in enrollment of 8 percent, 9 percent, 12 percent, 9 percent and 2.8 percent.

The overall enrollment for the fall 2021 semester is reportedly flat compared to last year at 11,266 students. This is 0.9 percent or 100 students less than fall 2020.

Lane said the figures indicate enrollment is stabilizing.

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