ST. CLOUD (AP) -- The 34 schools in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system have intensified their student retention efforts even though at least some schools are showing enrollment increases.
St. Cloud State's priority, for example, is to better distribute its 16,000-strong student population, said Michael Spitzer, provost and vice president for academic affairs.
"If we can increase retention rates, we can reduce enrollment numbers among freshmen," Spitzer said. "The goal should be to graduate as many students as we enroll."
Enrollment information released Wednesday shows 5.5 percent more students are taking credit-based courses systemwide than at the same time last year. There are 165,915 students taking such courses, an 8,673-student increase. Numbers were tallied on the 30th day of fall semester.
MnSCU schools have a retention rate of about 70 percent, said Nancy Conner, director of publications and media relations at MnSCU. That means about 70 percent of first-year students return to school the next fall.
"We're really not wanting to grow for growth's sake," St. Cloud State President Roy Saigo said.
Some students leave campus because they transfer to another school or take a job. They are not who the system wants to help. Instead, it will reach out to students who would leave because they're unhappy or they can't cope with college classes.
To that end, MnSCU is asking the Legislature for $5.3 million to fund access and diversity initiatives. The money is part of the system's overall $107.6 million requested increase. MnSCU typically receives a base appropriation of about $1.3 billion.
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