- Associated Press - Sunday, April 23, 2017

CHARLESTON, Ill. (AP) - Eastern Illinois University has boosted its marketing campaigns, social media outreach and events for admitted students in an attempt to reverse a recent trend of declining enrollment.

The university’s figures show that total enrollment has declined from more than 8,500 in the fall of 2015 to fewer than 6,700 this spring. Enrollment numbers usually drop a bit each spring due to December graduations.

Josh Norman, associate vice president for enrollment management, told the Journal Gazette and Times-Courier (https://bit.ly/2pNRokQ ) the university is facing statewide economic and political issues that have resulted in Illinois being the second biggest exporter of students among the 50 states.

“You are dealing with an increasingly competitive environment when it comes to recruiting college-bound students,” Norman said.

The university’s efforts to be more competitive also include offering new courses to meet student demand. For example, the university plans to expand its criminology minor into a new criminology/criminal justice major this fall.

“It really opens new opportunities for them to continue their education,” said Vicki Shaw Woodard, a university spokeswoman. “They are traditionally the courses that fill up the fastest because the students don’t have to fit them into their schedule.”

Norman said the university holds open houses for incoming, transfer and undecided students to help connect them with their academic and extracurricular interests.

“We have some really specialized events designed for those students so they can learn more about those academic interests here,” Norman said. “It is that personal connection we are really trying to drive home.”

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