Continued Growth in Enrollment Causes Changes at SHSU

Sam Houston State University was founded in 1876 and hasn’t stopped growing since. With 160 degree programs and over 20,000 students, it is no surprise Sam has been ranked the 14th Fastest Growing College by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Director of Admissions Angie Taylor has been working at the university for the past 13 years and said that it is amazing how much the school has grown.

“I have enjoyed seeing the university grow over the years that I have been here,” Taylor said. “We are continuing to meet the needs of the wonderful students who want to attend Sam Houston. This is an amazing place to work and attend school.”

According to the 2015-2016 SHSU Common Data Set, Sam’s population is made up of over 17,500 undergraduates and over 2,360 graduate students.

Although some may think there has been an influx of students, Taylor aims to clear the misconception.

“We’ve been growing for the past fourteen years and we’ve been steadily increasing at about a 2 percent rate,” Taylor said. “It’s not necessarily that we’ve had more students just this year; we’ve been growing pretty consistently.”

According to Taylor, campus expansion is no surprise and is right on schedule for the constructed state plans. These strategic plans map out enrollment and graduation goals for the next 15 years.

“The state of Texas has set some goals for our colleges and universities to continually increase enrollment, so we had a plan called ‘Closing the Gaps’ from 2000 to 2015,” Taylor said. “One of the was primary goals was enrollment and increased participation, so we’ve been consistently meeting the goals and standards of the state.”

No sooner than did we meet the goal, Texas’ higher education was given new criteria.

“This new plan we have called ‘60 by 30 Texas’ continues to focus on those goals, but also keeps student’s success at the heart of the goals,” Taylor said. “So, the goal is to get more students with a credential or degree to enter the Texas workforce to meet the demands of the work force.”

SHSU seems to already be one step ahead as Sam is ranked first in placing students in the Texas workforce within twelve months of graduation.

Taylor believes that our international advertising team that uses everything from social media to abroad faculty visitation contributes to Sam’s enrollment.

“We have an entire department just for advertising to new students coming in and they do a great job of getting students to come to Sam,” Taylor said. “They’ve won awards at different associations across campus, so we do a great job of advertising to high schools and community colleges, and different programs at other universities to recruit graduate students as well.”

According to the Texas Higher Education Strategic Plan, by 2030 at least 60 percent of Texans ages 25-34 (about 550,000 students) will earn a certificate or degree. For Sam, this plan means that 15 years from now, our school population could easily be over 30,000.

An abundance of students calls for more resources, such as buildings, and parking which seem to have already been stretched thin. However, SHSU is more than prepared to handle this expansion according to Vice President of Finances and Operations Carlos Hernandez.

“We are now in the midst of significant improvements that will address facilities needs in academics (the Pirkle Engineering Technology Center and the new biology building); student life (the new South Residential Complex, dining hall, and the Lowman Student Center expansion); and infrastructure and support (new parking lots and upgraded utilities),” Hernandez said.

For more information on new buildings and construction, the public is encouraged to view the 2020 Master Plan available on the SHSU website.

Although Sam welcomes and adjusts for all eager learners, the SAT, ACT, and overall GPA requirements will be raised for Fall of 2017 to ensure SHSU stays elite. The top 10 percent high school graduate rate will still guarantee automatic admission.

Luckily, with or without the raise of admission standards, future enrollment is not expected to negatively affect our 55 percent graduation rate according to the College Measure’s four year’s data tool. Sam’s current graduation rate means on annual average; 4,432 Sam students earn their degree each year according to the SHSU Accountability Report.

“Enrollment has steadily grown over the past 10 years, which has provided the added resources needed to improve our students’ educational experience,” Hernandez said. “As a result, we’ve seen performance gains in student success metrics, including retention and graduation rates.”

However, Sam’s community engagement and individualized teachings is what makes the campus special. Therefore, regardless of academic statistics, or student population, SHSU’s faculty will stay true to student’s needs to thrive in a college environment.

“At the same time, we are committed to maintaining a low student-to-faculty ratio and small classroom number so that our students will get a more personalized education,” Hernandez said. “In fact, only 1 percent of our classes have more than 100 students.”

SHSU’s record-breaking enrollment is a testament to embracing growth and welcoming new opportunities.

There is one comment

  1. symphonic1

    I see what you did there, saying you are building new parking lots and academic buildings. However, the new academic buildings that are being constructed are where older parking lots used to be, so as minute as the parking situation seems on paper, it is without a doubt the largest stain on the school.

Leave a Reply