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At Missouri State University, fall enrollment is just shy of a record set a year ago.
Photo provided by Missouri State University
At Missouri State University, fall enrollment is just shy of a record set a year ago.

Higher education enrollment healthy in Springfield area

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As the first week of the fall semester winds down, enrollment is up at most of the area’s higher education institutions.

At Missouri State University, the largest college in the Springfield area, opening day enrollment on Aug. 20 came in at its second-highest level to date. Enrollment was 21,309 to start the semester at the Springfield campus, according to a news release.

Fall classes launched with 42 fewer students than last year, when the university’s record was set. A key figure this year was a 5.5 percent increase in graduate student enrollment to 3,635 students compared with last fall.

“We’re happy to see increases in graduate student and out-of-state enrollment,” MSU President Clif Smart said in the release. “In the next few years, we’ll be adding new graduate and doctoral programs to meet workforce demands.”

Enrollment also is up at Drury University, College of the Ozarks, Evangel University and Cox College, officials with the schools say. Ozarks Technical Community College, the second-largest higher education institution in the area, recorded a slight dip.

OTC spokesman Mark Miller said opening day enrollment decreased 3 percent to 11,979 students.

“The decline was not unexpected,” he said via email. “We attribute the decline in enrollment to full employment in the Ozarks.”

The school’s official census will be taken on Sept. 17, Miller said.

At Drury University — the fourth-largest local higher education institution, according to Springfield Business Journal list research — traditional undergraduate enrollment was 1,476 students.

That’s up from 1,425 last fall and a 12 percent increase over the last three years, according to a news release.

“We’ve put a lot of stock in telling the story that a Drury education truly blends preparation for both a student’s career and their life. That story is connecting,” said Kevin Kropf, executive vice president for enrollment management at Drury, in the release.

C of O spokeswoman Valorie Coleman said the Point Lookout school’s unofficial fall enrollment tally is 1,550. She said there are 344 new students at the college, including 313 first-time students and 23 transfer students.

Enrollment for the 2017-18 academic year was 1,512, according to the college’s profile at USNews.com.

Declining to estimate initial counts, Evangel Vice President of Enrollment Management Chris Belcher said “total enrollment is slightly up.”

“We won’t know a final number until census day in September,” Belcher said via email.

At Cox College, Vice President of Student Affairs and College Advancement Sonya Hayter said enrollment hit a new record.

Total students at the school for the fall are 919, she said via email.

Reached via email, Vatterott College’s Springfield campus director, Cheryl Tilley, said fall enrollment started at 117. That's up from 110 a year earlier.

“Our fall enrollment finishes fully next week,” she said.

Other higher education institutions in the area — Southwest Baptist University, Bryan College and Midwest Technical Institute Inc. — either did not have initial enrollment figures or could not be reached by deadline.

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