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NEIU Enrollment Yields To Sluggish Economy

By Patrick McIntyre - Staff Writer
On February 25, 2012


In a trend that has everyone involved apprehensive, faculty and students alike, enrollment is down at Northeastern Illinois University.  Despite tax-breaks and national support to encourage an amplified level of college graduates in the U.S., NEIU has succumbed to the ramifications of a slow economy, when compared to recent years.

At the beginning of the 2011 fall semester, NEIU had 11,580 students enrolled, down 1.4 percent from the previous year. The most disturbing decrease is in the number of new freshman, which dropped by a significant 8.8 percent from fall 2010 to fall 2011. However, total enrollment over the past five years is down only 0.5 percent, allaying fears of the most vacillating data. These numbers still do show uncertainty. The recession has prevented some people from pursuing college education; conversely, attendance should be up, if only stagnant, with so many people out of work and the job market so resolutely demanding college degrees.

Anxious feelings have been commonplace throughout many facets of the nation, such as Wall Street and the banking industry. This has resulted in fears of lost jobs, an exhaustion of savings and an overall state of distress for almost all citizens. In a time when college enrollment should be through the roof, NEIU is experiencing an odd and disconcerting trend of lower attendance. 

Blase Masini, of NEIU's Office of Institutional Research, believes this is a development we must avoid; he is optimistic, though. "We need to learn from the past," says Masini, "and be smarter and more efficient with recruiting strategies; find the areas and schools where we're not recruiting."

Executive Director of Enrollment Services Janice Harring-Hendon is firmly confident NEIU will keep up equilibrium with enrollment levels and said, "We've had some challenges we're looking at and monitoring." Harring-Hendon believes a grass-roots approach is most effective when enticing new students. Community outreach programs and hosting internal recruitment is very important.

The first reactions to these numbers have yet to be determined. Obvious effects to ease cost would be budget cuts. Cuts in courses available, disposal of certain amenities and faculty lay-offs are simply a few of the tough decisions that colleges often face in light of a lethargic economy.

The consequences on students are also a primary concern. Like a trickle-down effect, decisions made will shape the daily lives of all attendees, directly or indirectly. Valued resources, such as the library, computer labs and student clubs, may all face difficulties with budgets if certain measures are taken. Slighter advantages, such as the revered U-Pass, may disappear entirely. Luckily, there is "no discussion at this point" on budget cuts, according to Harring-Hendon.

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