Enrollment Management

The SMSU System enrollment consists of students taking courses on the Springfield Campus, through the Extended Campus administered by the Springfield Campus, and at or through SMSU-West Plains.

Over the period covered by this plan, it is anticipated that the combined enrollment on the Springfield Campus and the Extended Campus will remain stable, with modest declines on the Springfield Campus offset by growth in the Extended Campus. Enrollment on the West Plains Campus is expected to increase to 1,750 by the fall of 2005. As Chart H (below) shows, enrollment for the SMSU System is expected to approach 20,000 students by fall 2005.

Chart H: Projected fall semester enrollments for the SMSU system, 2000-05

Total 1
West Plains
Total 2
2000 16,425 1,800 17,625 1,450 19,000
2001 16,350 1,950 17,700 1,515 19,135
2002 16,285 2,140 17,825 1,570 19,310
2003 16,230 2,275 17,905 1,630 19,430
2004 16,130 2,375 17,905 1,690 19,485
2005 16,030 2,475 17,905 1,750 19,540

1 Because students may be enrolled both on-campus and through the Extended Campus, the unduplicated total is less than the sum of the two columns (SMSU-Springfield plus Extended Campus).

2 Because students may enroll on both campuses, the unduplicated total for the SMSU System is less than the numeric sum of the two campuses.

It should be noted that these enrollment totals and goals do not include the noncredit enrollments through SMSU-Springfield's Continuing Education Program offerings, Management Development Institute professional development courses, Small Business Development Center training programs, and Institute for School Improvement, nor students served through the Center for Business and Industry Training at SMSU-West Plains. Over the next six years, these enrollments are expected to grow - from about 10,000 to 12,000 at SMSU-Springfield and from 450 to more than 1,900 at SMSU-West Plains.

The following is a description of the enrollment management plan for each component of the SMSU system enrollment.

Springfield campus

Primary enrollment management objectives for SMSU-Springfield include: 1) increasing freshman admission requirements, and 2) increasing graduate enrollment as a percent of the total on the Springfield Campus. The net result is expected to be a reasonably stable enrollment, with modest declines over the six years of the plan. With a stable enrollment, the university should be able to sustain and improve the quality of its programs and services, ensure efficient utilization of existing facilities, and contain costs for students, assuming that the university's state appropriation is adjusted annually for inflation (on the basis of total budget, not state appropriations alone).

Undergraduate enrollment

In Welcoming the 21st Century the university outlined its plan to implement a selective admission standard for first-time freshmen. The selective admission standard is based on a selection index (sum of a student's high school class rank percentile and ACT or SAT percentile) of 120. Phased implementation of that standard began in fall 1995 with a selection index of 80. Chart I (below) shows progression of the selection index and the associated freshman enrollments. Freshmen applying for the fall 2000 semester are required to have a selection index of 100 or higher.

As Chart I shows, enrollment of degree-seeking undergraduate students remained fairly stable between 1995-97, ranging from a low of 13,396 to a high of 13,776. During the fall semesters from 2000-05, the primary enrollment management objective is to maintain this stability, with a total undergraduate enrollment between 13,000-14,000 students.

Chart I: Change in selection index, freshman enrollment, average freshman ACT, and total undergraduate enrollment, 1994 to 1999

Fall Selection Index Number of First Time Freshman Average Freshman ACT Total Enrollment of Undergraduate Degree-Seeking Students
1994 NA 2841 21.7 14,778
1995 80 2512 22.4 13,776
1996 88 2507 22.4 13,473
1997 88 2782 23.1 13,396
1998 92 2785 23.5 13,498
1999 96 2657 23.4 13,766

Within that overall objective, the university also has the following objectives:

Continue progress toward selection index of 120 - A major objective is to continue to move the selection index toward the target of 120. This will be accomplished in progressive steps as it was during the last five-year plan. The number of high school graduates in Missouri is projected to increase by nearly 9 percent from 1999 to 2008. If the percentage of graduates enrolling at four-year institutions remains stable or increases, and if the university maintains or increases its market share of those graduates, then these factors will help to offset the loss of freshman enrollment due to the increased standards.

Consistent with the overall objective of maintaining undergraduate enrollment at 13,000 to 14,000, the university will annually assess enrollment trends and other variables that may impact future enrollments. Other factors, such as residence hall occupancy, also will be considered. Based on this review, a recommendation will be submitted to the Board of Governors each April regarding the selection index for the fall semester of the following calendar year.

Increased enrollment of transfer students from Missouri community colleges - The university will continue to seek modest increases in enrollment of transfer students from Missouri community colleges. The number of potential transfer students is expected to increase primarily due to the full implementation of the A+ Program (as the program is currently configured). Similarly, as the university raises its freshman admission requirements, an increasing number of potential students will be referred to community colleges. The university will continue to formulate and honor articulation agreements and develop cooperative programs with selected community colleges. In its continuing effort to make the transfer process as student-oriented as possible, SMSU is preparing program articulation agreements with community colleges and other two-year colleges from which it receives reasonable numbers of transfer students. This effort complements General Education articulation agreements distributed to all Missouri two-year institutions. By spring 2000, program agreements had been completed and delivered to SMSU-West Plains, Ozarks Technical Community College, and Crowder College; final articulation sheets for St. Louis Community College (all three campuses) were being finalized; and work was beginning on articulation sheets for the Kansas City Metropolitan College System.

Increased retention and graduation rates - As admission requirements are increased, the university expects to see increases in student retention and graduation rates. Retention initiatives included in Welcoming the 21st Century will be sustained and enhanced. A new initiative also will be launched to provide sophomores with more opportunities to focus on selection of a major and career exploration. This will be a cooperative effort between the staff of the office of career services, faculty advisors, and campus advisement centers. A primary goal of this initiative will be to enhance retention and graduation rates.

Increased minority enrollment as a percent of total enrollment - The university will continue to work toward the goal of increasing minority enrollment to 7 percent of total enrollment.

Services for disabled students - SMSU will continue to provide a positive environment and appropriate accommodations for the growing number of students with disabilities who are choosing to attend the university.

Graduate, postbaccalaureate, and post-master's Enrollment

Graduate student enrollment increased dramatically from 1995-2000 and the university firmly established its position as the graduate education center of southwest Missouri. The increase in graduate enrollment was fueled by addition of new programs and an increased demand for master's education across major sectors of the job market. Over the next few years, strong demand for graduate education is expected to continue. However, the rate of growth in student numbers is projected to be much slower than the last few years, averaging about 2 percent per year. Graduate students (Springfield Campus plus Extended Campus) are expected to account for 17 to 18 percent of the enrollment.

During this period, competition for meeting the needs of prospective graduate students will be intense from other higher education institutions and corporate learning venues. Sustaining on-campus enrollment and enrollment patterns of current graduate programs is a major goal. This will be facilitated, in part, by expansion of accelerated master's programming that provides a direct and seamless transition of high ability SMSU undergraduates into graduate education. SMSU also is establishing partnerships and collaborations with other institutions that facilitate students' entrance into selected graduate programs (e.g., joint M.B.A. with the Madras School of Social Work in India). The vision is that graduate education will increasingly demand more partnerships, but these are more focused on increasing student access than enhancing enrollment.

While some new degree programs will be added, a greater diversification of graduate opportunities for students will be from development of for-credit postbaccalaureate and post-master's graduate certificates that focus on specific market demands. The university's projection is that much of the graduate enrollment growth will result from expansion of distance learning opportunities, including both off-campus and Internet offerings (SMSU Online). Increasing graduate program availability to Joplin- and West Plains-area residents will occur both by expanding on-site programs and establishing better linkages to the main campus. SMSU will position itself to offer a select group of Internet-based graduate programs that draw from beyond southwest Missouri. Expanding Internet offerings are projected as the largest area of enrollment growth, albeit this market has tremendous uncertainty.

Nondegree undergraduate enrollment

This category includes individuals taking courses for personal or professional interest, visiting students from other colleges and universities, and high school students taking courses under the precollege classification. No significant change in enrollment in this category is anticipated.

Chart J: Anticipated freshmen selection index and fall semester enrollment for SMSU-Springfield, 1999-2005

Year Selection Index First-Time Freshman Degree-Seeking Undergraduates NonDegree Undergraduates Graduate and Post Total
2000 100 2,550 13,600 300 2,505 16,425
2001 102-106 2,500 13,500 300 2,550 16,350
2002 104-108 2,450 13,400 300 2,585 16,285
2003 106-112 2,400 13,300 300 2,630 16,230
2004 108-116 2,350 13,200 300 2,630 16,130
2005 110-120 2,300 13,100 300 2,630 16,030

Chart J (above) illustrates anticipated enrollments based on: 1) modest declines in undergraduate, degree-seeking enrollment resulting from increases in the selection index that will be partially offset through demographics, increased retention rates, and increased enrollment of transfer students; and 2) modest increases in graduate enrollments. Given the dynamic nature of enrollment, actual enrollments may reasonably be expected to vary between 5 and 10 percent from those shown.

The data presented here are based on fall semester headcount enrollment as of the official reporting date (20th day of classes). While this is the traditional benchmark for enrollment reporting, the number of students who enroll over the period of a year is actually far higher. For example, the unduplicated total headcount enrollment for SMSU-Springfield and the Extended Campus for the fall 1999 semester was 17,565. The total number of individuals who actually enrolled in credit courses during the 1999 calendar year (spring, summer, and fall combined), however, was 23,739.

Extended campus

As part of the university's Enrollment Management Plan, enrollment projections for the Extended Campus include enrollments in credit courses delivered via distance learning technologies, as well as more traditional courses offered at off-campus sites. Included, therefore, are distance-learning courses offered via interactive video (BearNet), the Internet (SMSU Online), and telecourses, as well as dual credit courses in area high schools and conventional off-campus courses at the West Plains Campus, the Graduate Center in Joplin, and other sites throughout the university's 24-county service area. For example, the number of students in bachelor's degree completion programs on the West Plains Campus is expected to grow to 250 by the fall 2005 semester. In addition, beginning with the fall 2000 semester, the university anticipates having enrollments at a new SMSU Branch Campus at Liaoning Teachers University of the People's Republic of China.

With Extended Campus programs, it is not easy to accurately predict future enrollments. Programs of these kinds enroll many adult and part-time students, and their participation may last only a semester or two. In addition, technology-based delivery systems are changing rapidly. Although these programs increase student access and are experiencing significant growth at the present time, it is difficult to know how much "drawing power" they will have in the future. This is especially true in light of the fact that some of these programs are designed to attract students throughout the nation (and, indeed, internationally) where there will be stiff competition from other educational providers.

Even with these uncertainties about the future, however, it is anticipated that during the university's six-year plan, overall enrollments through Extended Campus programs will experience significant growth. This is especially anticipated with off-campus dual credit courses and distance learning courses offered via the Internet and interactive video. Although the off-campus dual credit program has already experienced impressive growth over the past couple of years, the market potential remains quite large for several years to come, and it is expected that participation in that program will increase by approximately 100 percent during the current planning cycle. The BearNet interactive video network is expected to have steady growth with participation increasing by approximately 50 percent. The use of Internet-based instruction is growing rapidly throughout the nation, and SMSU is steadily adding to the curricular offerings available through the SMSU Online Program. During the current planning cycle, participation in this program is expected to increase by more than 250 percent.

It should be understood that a variety of developments could occur which would force changed assumptions and, thus, adjusted projections. For example, if the new SMSU Branch Campus at Liaoning Teachers University of the People's Republic of China, located in the City of Dalian, is successful in accomplishing its objectives, that center will enroll 50 new students each year for several years, totaling 200 enrollments or more by fall 2003. If this project is not as successful as anticipated, those numbers will need to be adjusted or eliminated from the projections. Likewise, the SMSU Online program could potentially enroll several hundred new students for the university during the next six years if the university is successful in reaching some special target population groups outside the current service area. If the university cannot compete successfully for these target markets, then the projections will need to be adjusted accordingly.

West Plains campus

Enrollment projections at SMSU-West Plains for the next six years are based upon four primary factors:

Continued population growth of Howell County - Studies project the annual growth rate of Howell County to be 2.2 percent until 2008, spurred, in part, by a predicted net increase of nearly 5,000 local jobs. Elementary school enrollments in the seven-county area already reflect the potential for a larger market pool, while new incentive programs such as the A+ Program, as currently configured, will serve to interest students in a college education available in their area.

Growing interest in the availability of bachelor's and master's degree programs offered by SMSU-Springfield - The initial offering of completion programs by SMSU-Springfield has been met with great enthusiasm, prompting program officials to consider bringing additional bachelor's and master's degree programs to the West Plains Campus. SMSU-West Plains planners anticipate that as a result of these offerings West Plains students will have an increased interest in and commitment to fulfilling their associate degree requirements at West Plains.

The offering of several new degree, certificate and noncredit programs - SMSU-West Plains anticipates added degree programs to meet the educational needs of the service area during the next six years. (See Chart G.)

The university's ongoing efforts to facilitate student academic success - While the Committee for Student Success will help guide the university's efforts to improve student academic persistence (retention) and graduation rates, care will be taken to ensure that student success is viewed throughout the campus as "everybody's business." Efforts will be organized, integrated and purposeful. Strategic data collection and assessment will occur every step of the way. The University Life course, one of the university's major student success projects, has been restructured to better fit the needs of students.


In achieving its planned enrollment goals, SMSU-West Plains will face intense market pressures, limited fiscal resources, and changes in student approaches to selecting a college. These challenges mandate that the West Plains Campus's method of student recruitment and instructional delivery must evolve to a higher state of efficiency and effectiveness. In preparation, SMSU-West Plains will create an office of enrollment services by realigning the offices of admissions and registration and records. The intent is to position the unit for optimal service to students, prospective students, faculty, and staff; to pursue an aggressive student recruitment program; and to focus on the academic success (retention) of current students.