Fall 2008 enrollment up, ACT scores continue to increase
Contact: Rene Abadie
HAMMOND – There is a greater number of students enrolled at Southeastern Louisiana University this fall compared to last year. Among them is a freshman class that represents a19 percent increase in the number of new students who have ACT scores of 24 or higher.
Fall enrollment increased more than three percent over last year, while composite ACT scores of entering freshmen also continued a strong upward trend, university officials announced today. The number of students with ACT scores of 24 and above – those considered highly qualified – increased from 535 students last year to 634 this year.
According to official figures released on Monday, the total head count at Southeastern numbered 15,224, which included a new freshmen enrollment of 3,320. The average ACT composite score for new freshmen also increased again, rising to 21.4. Southeastern’s average ACT score exceeds averages for both the state (20.3) and the nation (21.1) by an even greater margin this year.
“We are pleased our enrollment continues to be strong, even after increasing admission standards and despite declining numbers of high school graduates in Louisiana,” said Interim President John L. Crain. “What is even more encouraging is the increasing ACT scores among our new freshmen. High school students are getting the message that in order to succeed at a university, they need to be well prepared academically, especially in the areas of math and English.
“We have seen our freshman ACT scores increase steadily since we began to implement admission standards in 2000,” Crain added. “This is an important factor that impacts the success and eventual graduation of college students.”
Crain noted that freshman-to-sophomore retention increased slightly, and the percentage of those who completed at least 25 percent of their degrees during the first year is up almost six percent. He attributed this in part to Southeastern’s introduction this year of its Progression Scholarship Program, which provides a scholarship of 10 percent of a sophomore’s tuition and fees if the student makes satisfactory progress toward his or her degree after their first year. The value of the scholarship increases each year as the student continues to progress toward completing a four-year degree on time. By the student’s senior year, the scholarship will cover half of the student’s tuition and fees for their fourth and final year. More than 800 Southeastern sophomores qualified to receive the scholarship this fall.
“We marketed the university and its programs heavily in our region, and we saw a record number of applications and participation in this year’s summer orientation programs,” said Stephen Soutullo, assistant vice president for enrollment management.
The increase in new students also is due in part to a record number of “Early Start” students, explained Soutullo. Early Start is a Louisiana Board of Regents-sponsored program that allows qualified high school juniors and seniors at participating schools to earn both high school and college credit for certain courses.
“We worked closely with our partner high school teachers to provide them with professional development opportunities that enhance the content and teaching methodologies in these courses,” Soutullo said. “Students appear to be eager to gain a start on their college careers by taking these courses.”
The fall semester also saw the introduction of a new, completely online program designed to assist registered nurses who hold either diplomas or associate degrees obtain a bachelor’s degree. The program, offered through the state-sponsored Center for Adult Learning in Louisiana (CALL), enrolled an initial 18 students and is expected to grow steadily as the healthcare community becomes more aware of this innovative opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science degree.
The number of TOPS students now enrolled at Southeastern – more than 3,850 – was also up compared to last year’s figure of 3,600, Soutullo said.
Southeastern’s enrollment also includes 1,349 graduate students and approximately 600 transfer students. This year’s top feeder parishes and their enrollment numbers include: St. Tammany, 3,230; Tangipahoa, 2,586; East Baton Rouge, 2,227; Livingston, 1,968, Jefferson, 1,102; and Ascension, 781.