Dixie State University has a decreased enrollment as expected; however, more diverse, out-of-town students are shaping the campus.
Colleges and universities across the state have been seeing a downward trend in freshman enrollment, including DSU.
Meanwhile, out-of-state enrollment is steadily increasing.
David Roos, executive director of enrollment, named some key reasons why the freshman enrollment is down. He said the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints missionary age change has been the biggest factor.
Roos said the ratio between males and females is offset this year.
“It’s usually pretty much 50/50 with females in the lead,” he said.
Laralee Davenport, assistant director of admissions, also said the LDS missionary age change was a huge result in the enrollment decrease.
“When that was announced, we knew (enrollment would decrease),” Davenport said. “Another reason is because the economy is bouncing back, which causes fewer students to come because they can get a job.”
The shift to university status helped offset the drop that was expected.
“The shift to ‘university’ did help,” Roos said. “We might have been even lower without that.”
The fact students can attend a university at such an affordable rate is one of the big reasons why so many out-of-state and international students are attracted to DSU, Roos said.
DSU is also offering many new degree programs and new minors that are becoming more well-known.
“There is more expertise,” Roos said. “More programs are gaining notoriety.”
Roos mentioned a specific campaign created by students in the Center for Media Innovation called the A to Zion campaign to promote southern Utah.
“You can’t beat the location,” Roos said. “We have also been rated one of the safest communities in the nation.”
The recruitment office has specifically targeted larger cities with higher crime rates like Las Vegas and Los Angeles. In comparison to these places, St. George offers a safe, “small-town” feel.
Roos explained that the proximity to large cities, outdoor recreation and national parks make it a wonderful place tailored for college students of all ages.
According to Forbes, St. George is also No. 1 in the nation for employment after graduation, and it also houses the happiest graduates.
Although there isn’t much the admissions department can do about the missionary age change, Roos said expanding the recruitment market is going to increase diversity and enrollment. The market for international student recruitment is also growing.
“Affordability and availability to get financial aid are the keys to higher enrollment,” Roos said.