By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
With a new fall semester just over a month away, Missouri Western State University officials are doing what they can to get as many new students enrolled as they can.
Throughout the summer, MWSU has held on-campus Griffon Orientation, starting on June 15 and ending July 14.
Online orientation was available on July 20-21, and on-campus orientation will be offered for transfer students August 6 and non-traditional students August 7.
University president Elizabeth Kennedy says the on-campus orientation days were overall successful.
"We've been bringing students and we've allowed them to come with one parent or family member," Kennedy said on KFEQ's The Hotline. "It's been amazing to see the excitement."
Missouri Western also held a walk-in registration event on July 15 and has another one scheduled for August 24 from 10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Classes for Missouri Western begin August 30.
The University held two walk-in enrollment events last year despite the pandemic, and were able to enroll 75 total students from both events. Kennedy says students waiting until August to make their final college decision is becoming a more common trend.
"We have a fair number of students who wait until August, so we're trying to encourage them," Kennedy said. "Having these open (walk-in) days, particularly if some was thinking about going to Mizzou or something and decided to stay here in St. Joseph, having that last opportunity for them to come in and get enrolled, we make it super easy."
Kennedy is also seeing an increase in transfer students as well as those who grew up in and around St. Joseph.
"The other piece I'm so glad to see is we have more and more students who were thinking about taking a year off last year due to COVID but have decided to come back," she said. "We're seeing a lot more transfer students coming especially from community colleges, which is wonderful. We're also seeing more St. Joseph students coming."
As of late June, over 600 students attended Griffon Orientation. Last fall, there were 4,902 students enrolled at MWSU - 690 of whom were new.
MWSU saw a 9.44 percent decrease in enrollment last fall compared to that of 2019. Because of this, University staff want to focus on student retention and making new students feel welcome.
Missouri Western automatically enrolls new students into Griffon Edge - a four-day, one credit orientation that happens the week before classes start.
According to the University's website, Griffon Edge "equips new students with comprehensive information about Missouri Western and its services to ease students' transition."
MWSU also offers a University Experience Course, UNV 101, designed to help new students make the transition to college and garner the skills necessary to succeed.
After a tough fall of 2020 for new students navigating through a pandemic and virtual learning, Kennedy is hopeful that this fall will be a very welcoming and enjoyable experience for newcomers.
"This formal (University Experience) program will deal with not only academics, but the whole collegiate experience," Kennedy said. "One of the things we're really focusing on this year is creating that sense of community and belonging for our students."
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