The final fall enrollment count of 7,638 is just slightly above the 2016 enrollment of 7,626 but McNeese President Dr. Daryl Burckel says the numbers are moving in the right direction.
“Enrollment, both recruiting new students and retaining current students, is my top priority,” Burckel said.
While McNeese continues to be nationally recognized for faculty and student accomplishments, including high passage rates on national licensure exams, acceptance into medical and professional schools and career return on investment, enrollment has declined since 2010.
With approximately 70 percent of the university’s operating budget coming from self-generated funds and only 30 percent from state appropriations, enrollment is the single most important source of revenue.
“Everyone plays a role in enrollment and retention,” Burckel said. “We are looking for opportunities to engage students early, for opportunities to invest in our freshmen and ways to improve campus facilities and grounds.”
The College of Nursing and Health Professions leads all areas with nearly 1,000 undergraduate majors. The health systems management and biological science programs and the department of electrical engineering and computer science also had strong enrollment increases.
The dual admissions program that allows academically qualified high school students to enroll in selective freshman level college courses increased by more than 150 students and enrollment in online undergraduate and graduate programs grew.
“Our first-time freshman enrollment is up by almost 100 students and that is very positive,” Burckel said.
However, he cautioned that high school seniors are not the only target market that McNeese is working to connect with.
“Future potential students have many different ages, ethnicities and faces and conceivably live all around the globe. No group should be considered automatic nor should any group be automatically excluded. However, once we get students to our campus, we need to make sure we implement proven and innovative strategies to help reduce the level of attrition that takes place. We do not want to lose one student that we have recruited and convinced to join our community,” Burckel said.
“Our students must be actively engaged on campus and with their learning process. We need the quality of our programs to be so strong that students cannot imagine themselves leaving McNeese without first obtaining a degree,” added Burckel.