The Maneater

Increase in applications could lead to higher enrollment

MU’s increase in applications this year has led to a better outlook for the university.

Graphic by Madi Winfield | Visuals Director

Freshman applications at MU have risen 16.8 percent in comparison with last year’s numbers at this time, according to an MU News Bureau press release.

Christian Basi, director of the MU News Bureau, said increased recruitment and new affordability initiatives could have played a factor in encouraging more students to apply. MU has sent representatives to more high schools in Missouri and has tried to maintain greater contact with prospective students this year. The university’s new affordability initiatives, such as lower housing costs and scholarships for low-income and out-of-state students, have also made MU more attractive to some students, Basi said.

When asked if fading memory of the 2015 protests could have had an effect, Basi said it was hard to tell but that “we certainly feel we’ve done a lot of work to overcome those perceptions.”

As for the effects of the application increase, Basi said this will most likely lead to an increase in enrollment this coming fall. While it’s still unsure as to the size of this increase, the university will be working until the end of May to boost the percentage of accepted students who enroll at MU by keeping in touch with students and offering more help in the matriculation process.

In response to the likelihood of higher enrollment, MU announced in a UM System Board of Curators meeting that next year it will reopen six of the seven residence halls that were closed this academic year. Some of these closed residence halls were used by fans during football games, and next year the university plans to rent out the remaining closed hall, Responsibility, to MU Health Care as an administrative building.

The possible increase in enrollment would have a positive impact on MU’s current budget woes, but challenges unrelated to low enrollment, such as Gov. Eric Greitens’ proposed cuts in state funding to the UM System, are expected to persist, Basi said. These cuts are part of Greitens’ budget proposal, and while this proposal is by no means destined to be law, the governor would like to cut $43 million from the UM System’s funding for the 2019 fiscal year.

Students on campus are excited about the likelihood of increased enrollment, but they have their hesitations, most of which revolving around access to classes. Freshman Molly Stawinoga is worried because of the difficulty she already has trying to enroll in certain classes. While she is happy about the positives of a higher enrollment, she wanted to know whether MU could accommodate such an increase.

During a UM System Board of Curators meeting on Feb. 2, university officials discussed the issue of waitlists for classes. Although not in the context of the increase in applications, one possible solution given to this issue was greater access to online classes, which could allow more flexibility in the schedules of students and professors.

While many of the effects look promising, at this point officials of the Enrollment Management & Strategic Development advisory council said it’s too early to be certain about the causes and effects of this increase in applications. The council is holding off on drawing conclusions until it has more information about the situation, said Chrissy Kintner, assistant to the vice provost of EMS Development.

Edited by Stephi Smith | ssmith@themaneater.com

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