Dixie State University has reported the highest enrollment increase of nearly 7.4 percent in Utah, but it’s not as high as the institution’s goal is.
Andrea Brown, director of institutional research, said the institution’s goal is to be at 12,500 students by 2020. DSU’s enrollment increase for the 2015-2016 year is the highest over all colleges in Utah with the institution having the largest percentage increase of full-time students and total headcount.
“We’re probably lagging around a little bit right now,” Brown said. “That would mean at this point, we’re 3,500 short. We would need to be growing just over 875 students every year for the next four years in order to meet that goal.”
Brown said this goal will be a lot more obtainable if the institution focuses on retaining students instead of consistently trying to replace new students. She said spring enrollment usually dwindles due to students running out of money and needing to work more.
“I think here in Utah, there’s a mentality that [students] should never take out loans,” Brown said.
Students shouldn’t go overboard on loans, Brown said. But it might be “worth getting into some debt” if it allows students to continue going to school.
High school students in the Concurrent Enrollment Program have also added to this enrollment boost by growing 25 percent, Brown said.
“The sooner we can get high school students thinking seriously about a college education, the better,” said Michael Lacourse, vice president of student affairs and provost, in a press release.
Brown said there’s some new incentives to try and retain students such as the new app Ellucian Go. It allows students to prepare their spring schedule ahead of time. When students’ time frame opens to register, they can register all of their classes “with a push of a button,” she said.
A spokesman from the Utah System of Higher Education did not respond to Dixie Sun News’ request for comments.
Brett Schwartz, director of new student programs, said this enrollment growth has to do with DSU’s largest freshman class in history, where new freshman enrollment increased by 27 percent compared to last year.
“The enrollment growth means that students are realizing that DSU is a premier open-enrollment institution that offers one of the lowest tuition costs in the Western United States,” Schwartz said. “It’s a clear sign that DSU is trending upward.”