Tag Archive for: Enrollment

Fall term enrollment continues rebound at SOU

SOU fall enrollment expands on recent upturn

(Ashland, Ore.) — Fall term admission numbers suggest the continuation of a strong rebound in enrollment at Southern Oregon University, led by the institution’s largest freshman class since 2018. The number of new freshmen at SOU increased this fall by 15.1% compared to a year ago, while the number of incoming transfer students is up by 10.6%.

Overall, student headcount for the traditional yardstick at the fourth week of fall term is 162 higher than that of last fall – a 3.4% gain to a total of 4,889. The increases among freshmen and transfers account for 84 and 30 students, respectively.

“These numbers tell me that prospective students and their families are hearing our message,” SOU President Rick Bailey said. “We offer remarkable academic and student experience opportunities in an environment that is second to none, with a heart-centered approach from faculty and staff who are unparalleled in their commitment to helping students achieve their educational goals. It’s a perfect recipe.

“Our scholarship and financial aid programs, and our dedicated admissions staff, bring our broad spectrum of educational programs within reach of all who wish to take this transformative, positive step.”

SOU experienced a double-digit percentage decline in enrollment during the years following the COVID-19 pandemic and regional wildfires of September 2020. The university’s turnaround began with small increases in headcount for both the 2021-22 and 2022-23 academic years, and has picked up momentum with encouraging overall numbers this fall.

Headcount is expected to settle at a year-over-year increase of about 2% by the end of fall term, while full-time equivalent figures – a more accurate reflection of students’ total credit hours – is projected to end the term about 1% higher than those of fall 2022. That would mark the first uptick in full-time equivalent enrollment in several years.

Student retention plays a significant role in this fall’s positive enrollment picture. Last year’s freshman cohort returned this year at a rate of 66.3%, compared to 65.6% for the previous cohort, while total undergraduate retention is at 78% this fall, compared to 76.2% in 2022.

Another positive note comes from SOU’s Advanced Southern Credit, a dual-enrollment program with local high schools, which is showing an increase of about 7% this fall.

“Our university has faced recent obstacles that are common among public universities across the country, along with others that are particular to our state and even our region,” said Matt Stillman, Ph.D., SOU’s registrar and assistant vice president for enrollment management.

“We have taken a leading role in adapting, innovating and getting back on track to serve our communities and prepare our students for purposeful, rewarding lives.”

SOU’s enrollment has been negatively affected in recent years by not only the pandemic and the southern Oregon wildfires of three years ago, but also by factors such as changing attitudes toward higher education and a long-anticipated national decline in the traditional, college-age demographic.

The university has responded with investments to modernized enrollment management efforts and increase its pool of prospective students, and with groundbreaking initiatives to establish intergovernmental agreements with school districts across the state of Oregon and transfer agreements with several community colleges in Oregon and California.

Under the intergovernmental agreements, school districts share their students’ basic directory information with SOU, which then promotes college attendance and provides timely enrollment guidance. The arrangement improves  college access, especially among traditionally underserved students.


About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University is a medium-sized campus that provides comprehensive educational opportunities with a strong focus on student success and intellectual creativity. Located in vibrant Ashland, Oregon, SOU remains committed to diversity and inclusion for all students on its environmentally sustainable campus. Connected learning programs taught by a host of exceptional faculty provide quality, innovative experiences for students. Visit sou.edu.

SOU's cohort of first-year students is diverse and smart

SOU’s first-year cohort: diverse, smart and persistent

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s 2020 cohort of first-year students is fairly evenly split between Oregon and out-of-state residents, much more diverse than either Jackson county or the state as a whole and has a wide variety of scholarly interests, with students in 19 academic majors.

The freshman class of 570 – not including transfer students – is also smart, with an average high school grade point average of 3.34. Another 380 first-year transfer students have enrolled at SOU this fall, along with nearly 3,000 continuing, returning and non-admitted students.

“We have a really good group of first-year students this fall, and great students who are continuing their educational journeys with us,” said Neil Woolf, SOU’s vice president for enrollment management and student affairs. “The COVID-19 pandemic, the recent wildfires and other external events have been huge distractions. All of our students this year have persevered. They want to learn and succeed.”

The pandemic and a resulting shift to mostly remote classes at SOU and most other universities resulted in dire predictions of enrollment declines in the 10 to 20 percent range for higher education institutions across the country. Official enrollment figures for Oregon’s public universities won’t be available until about halfway through fall term, but preliminary data suggest that SOU’s losses will be under 10 percent.

“We certainly would have preferred to hold steady on enrollment or even gain some students,” Woolf said. “But given this year’s realities and obstacles, this is far from a worst-case scenario. The dedication of our faculty, staff and the students themselves has been phenomenal.”

SOU’s freshman cohort is 56.6 percent female, 41 percent male and 2.4 percent non-binary. About 56 percent identify as white, just under 16 percent as Hispanic or Latinx and 28 percent as multi-racial, unknown or other people of color. By contrast, the most recent demographic data from the county and state suggest a white population of nearly 89 percent in Jackson County and 85 percent statewide – although Hispanic or Latinx residents are not separated from those figures.

Oregon residents make up 56.6 percent of SOU’s freshman class, with non-residents at 43.4 percent – led by California at 25.9 percent. Students from a total of 16 other states or territories are included in the cohort. More than 73 percent are living in SOU residence halls or other campus housing, and just under 27 percent are living off-campus.

One in five SOU freshmen have not yet declared an academic major. For those who have decided on majors, the top choices are psychology, theatre arts, biology, creative arts, pre-nursing, business, and criminology and criminal justice.


SOU bucks national trend by increasing 2017 enrollment

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/EkCqH3)
(Ashland, Ore.) — Official fall term enrollment figures released by the state this week paint Southern Oregon University as an institution on the rise and an exception among universities nationwide.
SOU posted gains in both the number of full-time equivalent students and actual headcount of students this fall, compared to fall term of 2016. Figures on full-time equivalent students are considered the most critical, because they indicate enrollment in terms of the credit hours and tuition revenue generated by students.
SOU’s full-time equivalent enrollment increased by just over 2 percent this fall, to 4,383 students – 90 more than a year ago. The university’s actual headcount – the total number of full- and part-time students enrolled – rose by just under 1 percent, to 6,139. That represents an increase of 51 students.
“These enrollment figures are a reflection of the upward trajectory SOU is experiencing,” said Linda Schott, the university’s president. “The trend across the country is for declining college enrollment. We are focused on preparing our students for a changing future, and on providing the knowledge and skills that will help them succeed.
“We are seeing increases this fall in the number of new, first-year students, retention of last year’s first-year students and overall retention of returning students. That indicates our efforts to attract students and provide the services they need are producing results.”
SOU has increased its institutional aid budget – financial aid for students who are the least able to afford higher education costs – to $4 million, from the $3.5 million that was budgeted previously. The university has also focused on its student success programs and expanded efforts to steer eligible students toward cost-saving options such as those that enable students to attain a college degree in three years.
“Our enrollment increase is due in large part to the strategic directions we put into place a couple years ago, regarding recruitment and retention,” SOU Provost Susan Walsh said. “We created several programs and initiatives that are intended to appeal to resident and nontraditional students. I really credit our enrollment and admissions team for the good work they’ve done.”
Data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center showed that college enrollment across the U.S. fell by 1.4 percent in 2016, continuing a slide that began four years earlier. The nonprofit research center projected earlier this year that the nationwide enrollment decline would continue in 2017.
Total enrollment at Oregon’s seven public universities declined this year by six-tenths of 1 percent in full-time equivalent students and increased by less than one-tenth of 1 percent in total headcount of full- and part-time students. (Enrollment figures for the individual universities are available online.)
About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University provides outstanding student experiences, valued degrees, and successful graduates. SOU is known for excellence in faculty, intellectual creativity and rigor, quality and innovation in connected learning programs, and the educational benefits of its unique geographic location. SOU was the first university in Oregon—and one of the first in the nation—to offset 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power. It is the first university in the nation to balance 100 percent of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.

SOU Sees Second-Largest Enrollment in its History

FTE Dips, Overall Retention Up, Record Number of Californians

(Ashland, Ore.) – Southern Oregon University’s 40% growth spurt over the last four years has paused to take a breath. Headcount that reached a record 6,744 in fall 2011 dipped to 6,481 this fall, a 3.9% decrease. Although down compared to fall 2011, fall 2012 represents the second-largest enrollment in institutional history. The numbers declined in most categories with the noticeable exception of California students, who reached a new record headcount of 969, a 4.4% increase over last fall.
“Enrollment growth has not been a straight line,” says SOU President Mary Cullinan. “Although this year’s numbers show a decrease, our numbers two years ago were the largest increase in the Oregon University System. The state economy has been on a bumpy road the last four years, and enrollment numbers are bouncing as well. We look forward to stability in state revenue and funding for higher education, as well as more predictability in the enrollment pipeline.”

The following are highlights from fall term 2012 enrollment figures:

  • Headcount is 6,481, a 3.9% decrease from fall 2011, and similar to fall 2010 enrollment of 6,444.
  • Full-time Equivalent (FTE) enrollment is 4,573, 2.2% less than the record in fall 2011.
  • Overall retention of continuing students, who comprise 73% of the undergraduate student body, is up 0.9%.
  • Latino enrollment, which had leaped 82% in the last two years, dipped 0.9% this fall.
  • Transfers from community colleges and other universities were down 19.2%. New freshmen were down 10.3%. New graduate students were down 13.8%.
  • California student enrollment is up 4.4% over last fall, hitting another record. Total non-resident enrollment is up 1.5%.
  • On-campus housing is again close to capacity this fall.
  • International student enrollment dropped 2.9% this fall, but will increase over the remainder of the school year

Looking ahead, construction continues on the new North Campus Village, a 700-bed student residential project that replaces the aging Cascades Housing and Dining Complex. Opening is anticipated in fall 2013. Recruiting has begun for the new Honors College at Southern Oregon University, also scheduled for a fall 2013 launch. The renovation of the Churchill Hall administration building is complete, and offices are being reoccupied. The SOU Science Building is scheduled for a major remodel beginning in the spring.
“We just celebrated SOU’s 140th birthday on November 4,” says President Cullinan, “and we look ahead to a bright future. Certainly, there will be challenges but this is a wonderful university with strong local support, a dedicated faculty, and engaged students eager to learn. Great things are still to come.”

SOU Sets Another Enrollment Record

RCC Transfers, Californians and Hispanic Students Lead Growth

(Ashland, Ore.) –Southern Oregon University is experiencing the largest and most diverse fall enrollment in its history. Headcount has reached 6,744, a 4.7 percent increase over last fall’s figure that was up a dramatic 26 percent over fall 2009. The categories showing the strongest growth were transfers – especially from Rogue Community College, Hispanic students, Californians and international students. Read more

SOU Breaks All Enrollment Records – Most Students Ever

Rate of Growth is the Highest of All Oregon Public Universities
(Ashland, Ore.) –Californians have discovered Southern Oregon University (SOU). So have Oregonians, Hispanics, foreign students, transfer students and graduate students. SOU experienced record growth this fall in every category the university measures.
SOU President Mary Cullinan notes, “All of Oregon’s public universities grew this fall. We’re an affordable option in a difficult economy. But SOU’s growth is exceptional. We’re the only university of its kind on the West Coast. We’re a public university with a focus on connecting students with faculty and with the region. We’re committed to powerful programs in the arts and the sciences—but also to professional programs in education and business that educate the professional workforce of this region. We’ve worked hard to get the news out about SOU. And now we’ve been discovered.”

  • The following are highlights from fall term 2010 enrollment figures: • Headcount is 6,443, a 26.2% increase over fall 2009, and the highest enrollment for any term in the university’s history.
  • Full Time Equivalent (FTE) enrollment is 4,524, 15.1% more than fall 2009, and also an all time record.
  • Hispanic enrollment saw a dramatic increase, up 46.3% this fall, helping to raise minority student enrollment to 12.5%. This is the most diverse fall term in SOU history.
  • Fall 2010 represents SOU’s largest new transfer class ever – 674 students, an increase of 36% over fall 2009.
  • Fall term 2010 includes SOU’s largest new graduate class in the institution’s history, a 3.9% increase over fall 2009.
  • California student enrollment is up 37.9% over last fall, the largest number of California students in institutional history. Total non‐resident enrollment is up 22.6%. In total, 37.4% of the new class this fall is non‐resident.
  • Resident first time freshmen enrollment is up 15.5%. Campus housing is filled to capacity this fall.
  • Freshmen retention increased to 70.4%, reflecting a continuing trend of improved retention rates. By comparison, SOU retained 62.8% of new students in 2003.
  • Foreign student enrollment increased 22.2% from fall 2009. Even with the dramatic growth, SOU still has capacity and is busily recruiting more students. Applications for fall 2011 are already well ahead of this time last year.

SOU is also developing new programs. Agreements were recently signed with several Chinese campuses to send business students to SOU. The university’s Emerging Media and Digital Art program is expanding this fall and has a new program director. On‐line course offerings have increased 144% over 2008 offerings. The National Science Foundation has recently awarded close to a million dollars in grants for equipment and expansion of laboratories.
“No other undergraduate liberal arts campus in the West can top SOU for quality, affordability, accessibility, and location,” says President Cullinan. “SOU’s inspiring faculty, connected learning, creative spirit, and beautiful location make this campus a magnet for motivated students. I couldn’t be happier about that.”