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Columbia Missourian

Stephens College enrollment up

By KELSEY ALLEN
August 27, 2008 | 4:55 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA - Although Stephens College's final enrollment numbers will not be in until mid-September, there are already more than 75 more undergraduate students than there were last fall. But with freshmen enrollment flat for the third year in a row, other factors are contributing to the increase.

"A lot of the growth that we have seen this year has been attributed to retention," said Amy Gipson, vice president of marketing and public relations at Stephens College. "We brought in the same number of new students, but we are doing more to retain students."

Last fall, Stephens had a total of 676 undergraduate students. This fall, the number rose to 755.

The number of first-year students, which includes transfer students, has remained at 280 for the past two years. In 2006, the number was 281.

Gipson attributes the higher retention rate not only to their marketing efforts, but also to their philosophy toward handling student problems.

"You'll find Stephens to be a fairly student-centered place," Gipson said. Whether the student is struggling with financial or personal problems, "we really work with them to stay through their program and graduate from Stephens," she said.

For freshman Amanda Kiel, it's not the worries of a new school, new classes and new people that keep her up at night.

"I have mad insomnia," Kiel said.

For Kiel, Stephens was an easy choice.

"I came for a campus visit, and I walked into the fashion design classroom and they said that you could come in late at night and work on projects," she said.

That did it for her.

The graduate and continuing study program has also seen an increase in course enrollment.

"Enrollment is up 12 percent over last year," said Suzanne Sharp, dean of the graduate and continuing studies program. "This is one of our smaller increases. We are looking for a big jump in the spring."