Matthew Murphy –
In the past few years, Illinois College has been on the upward trend for attendance with a current rate of slightly over one thousand, the classes of 2016 and 2017 being the largest in the school’s history.
As of now, Illinois College’s long-term goal is to reach a student population of 1200 within the next couple of years. Drawing in a larger number of students and maintaining retention rates presents a new challenge to staff working in admissions and advertising, as well as faculty members.
According to Vice President of Enrollment and Marketing Stephanie Chipman, IC has been looking to focus on gaining more and different groups of students in the upcoming years.
The first area of growth that IC would like to improve is the number of female student athletes. Despite a highly-athletic student body, male athletes outnumber female athletes greatly and the College wants to decrease the size of this gap.
Another area that IC wants to focus on is international students. Next year, IC is looking at 270 freshman students, with 20 of them being international. IC wants to double, even triple the number of international students in each class.
A third area IC would like to see an increase in is the number of transfer students.
With plans to add more students, new issues arise. One of the major issues is updating facilities to accommodate these new students.
The biggest academic department on campus is the Biology Department. To provide more opportunities to the growing student body, IC has begun to expand with the addition of new professors. Unfortunately, Parker Science Building is running out of room to house these new professors. According to Chipman, “IC is aware of these issues. What IC is doing now is making a master plan that will be worked on over the summer and the fall according to the students’ needs.” Some things that the master plan may call for is improving dormitories, expanding Parker Science Building, and updating Memorial Gym into a student center.
With IC being a private college, another issue that arises is retention rates, or keeping these new students at the college for all four years. Compared to a state school, IC is a bit more pricey, but according to Stephanie Chipman, cost is not the biggest reason why students transfer out of IC. “Students use cost as an excuse, but it is not the main cause. There are many underlying reasons.”
Chipman also stated that retention rate for Illinois College is on an upward trend. “We have invested in resources for improving student graduation. Center for Academic Excellence is entering its eighth year, which has caused more students to persist to graduation than in previous years.”
A lot of changes are in store along with the addition of new students. Be prepared to see many new faces, as well as changes in the scenery on campus in the coming years!
Matthew Murphy, from Girard, Illinois, is a junior majoring in Biology with a Mathematics minor. Matthew is the president of Parker After Dark, and participates in Cross Country and Track and Field.