Currently, 11,846 students are enrolled at SFA, 189 fewer students than last spring. This is a 1.6% loss as compared to the 12,035 students enrolled in spring of 2019.
“Spring enrollment is always less than fall,” Erma Brecht, executive director of enrollment management in the Office of Admissions, said. “We just had a December graduation. So, we had a significant number of students graduate, but not a lot of students start college in spring. There are some, by all means, but not at that same level. That’s why you’re always going to see spring being less then where it was in the fall.”
According to the Census Report of the Office of Institutional Research, there are 2,547 freshmen, 2,177 sophomores, 2,699 juniors, 2,985 seniors, 105 Post-baccalaureate, 1,272 students getting master’s and 61 doctoral students.
“For enrollment numbers, we look at which groups make up that enrollment,” Brecht said. “Is it new freshman? Is it new transfers? Is it continuing undergrad? Is it continuing graduate? Is it new graduate? Is it Dual Credit? We really watch all of those trends. This past fall, we came in with a little under the enrollment from the previous fall, because there was a really large change in the market demand for graduate master’s students in educational leadership. In Fall 2018, the state of Texas required superintendents and principals to go back and get these particular graduate level courses, so our graduate masters was really high. After they completed what they needed for their professions in Fall 2019, the number dropped quite a lot. The other pocket of students that contributed to that number was dual credit. The university has made a commitment to serving East Texas high schools.”
In Fall 2019, there were 12,969 students enrolled. 1,475 were graduate students, as compared to Fall 2018, when there were 1,746 graduate students enrolled. The largest number of students SFA has ever had was in Fall 2018. There were 13,144 students.
“This past May was one of the larger graduating classes SFA has seen,” Brecht said. “I think we’ll start continuing to see larger classes graduate. For different reasons, some students may not always return. So, to increase enrollment, we have to replace the students who graduate, and those who weren’t able to return, as well as add.”
According to Tierney Twigg, assistant to the dean of the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, the total number of graduate applications for Spring 2020 are 397, 260 for Summer 2020 and 206 for Fall 2020.
“All of the graduate programs have a coordinator,” Dr. Pauline Sampson, dean of research and graduate studies, said. “There’s 39 different programs, so there’s 39 different coordinators. Weekly, we send out an email to them, and it lists any applicants that have applied for graduate school here. We encourage them to reach out to those potential students.”
In July, SFA graduate school did a campaign with five different online graduate programs to inform people the programs existed. They also now have brochures listing all the different programs, created six months ago, and are working on brochures that list the graduate studies for each of the colleges.
“Another thing we did as far as recruitment [was realize] our website was not very student friendly,” Sampson said. “It had some faculty friendliness. But if you were a potential student, I don’t think it had a look that said, ‘Yeah, this is where I want to come.’ So, we had it redesigned, and it went live [Feb. 4]. We’re also trying to get a better sense of providing things that students need, in the manner that they need it. Not everyone can come to campus. They have jobs. They have families. They have commitments. They need the flexibility of online, or maybe shorter term tries at the programs. We’re starting to look at what parts of our programs could be more online or more flexible.”
Besides just looking at enrollment numbers, Brecht said the university wants to focus on student success as a whole.
“I think what SFA is looking for is to serve all of our students,” Brecht said. “Not just new freshman or new transfers, but [the] continuing students and graduates too. We have to really make sure we’re being mindful of the needs of every student. The university is committed, yes to growing the enrollment, but more importantly the focus is on students’ success. If we can make changes, enhance initiatives towards helping our students be successful, that in itself is going to enhance enrollment. We want to see our students graduate in a timely fashion, with less debt and successfully, in that they’re going to secure employment or get into graduate school.”