Southern Oregon University saw its highest enrolling and most diverse fall term in its 140-year history thanks to a combination of different factors, including location, affordability, and contributions from the local community.
“I believe that, thanks to the Internet, social media, news coverage, and word of mouth, the story about SOU is reaching prospective students across the west,” said Jim Beaver, the director of Interactive Marketing and Media Relations. “This is a beautiful campus, in a beautiful place, where you can get a very personalized education for an affordable rate, and become successful.”
Not only did SOU have its highest enrollment of students, but it has also seen record-breaking enrollment in the population of international students, Rogue Community College transfers, California transfers, and Hispanic students.
The 25.7 percent increase in Hispanic students at SOU follows national trends of an increasing Hispanic population, with the school expected to have 46 percent more Hispanic students by 2020. The admissions department made a conscious effort to have bilingual counselors to improve communication with students whose primary language is Spanish, and a new partnership between the university and Talent Middle School called Pirates to Raiders is also expected to increase admission rates for Hispanic students applying to SOU.
Even students from countries as far as Belarus and Malaysia are choosing to come to SOU. The university has had a 17.4 percent increase in International students since fall of last year, and the university now has students from 22 different countries.
SOU’s Multicultural Resource Center also provides support and services for these students that have a different ethnic or cultural background.
“Once minority students arrive here, the MRC provides support to help them succeed and enjoy student life,” said Beaver.
SOU has also become an appealing choice for California residents, seeing a 15.2 percent increase in students from California, the largest number of California students in the history of the institution. The tuition to attend a California school versus SOU is comparable for California residents, and the large class sizes at the California universities are making smaller schools like SOU more attractive.
Scholarship programs such as the Western Undergraduate Exchange or WUE are also leveling the playing field for California applicants, by offsetting the increased tuition cost for out-of-state residents.
“SOU has been more effectively recruiting outside of the surrounding area, particularly in California where students are finding it difficult to get in to schools and get the classes they need in a timely manner,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Jon Eldridge. “SOU is now also as affordable for California students as studying at a UC school because of the Western Undergraduate Exchange.”
The university already has more applicants for fall term of next year than they did at the same time last year. The college has been planning ahead for the growth and has a 700-bed student residential village as well as an honors college, both anticipated to be open in fall of 2013.