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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Fall online enrollment at Minnesota State more than doubles

Online enrollment has more than doubled at Minnesota State this fall.

By Robb Murray, The Free Press [published in The Free Press,Mankato, MN, 9/16/2005]

Mankato — The bottom line is this: Minnesota State University's enrollment will be about the same as last year, and that's just fine with admissions officials.

But a closer look at the numbers reveal big changes are occurring in the way a big chunk of students receive their education.

On paper, it looks as though off-campus courses at both the graduate and undergraduate level are way down. Statistics available from MSU's institutional research Web site show head counts for off-campus enrollments are down 31 percent.

Online enrollments, however, are skyrocketing. Last fall, 309 students enrolled in online courses. This fall, 675 students are enrolled so far. That number could go a little higher, though, as some off-campus courses don't record enrollment until later in the semester.

"We've been through a small building process and paid a lot of attention to it," said Patricia Lipetzky, MSU's dean of extended learning. "It takes time for development. But I would like to see us double that again. We've taken a big leap as far as our skill development.

"Most online classes are in graduate studies. Of the 44 classes offered online so far, 27 are graduate level. Lipetzky said that's not surprising since graduate classes traditionally have been more likely to cater to people with careers or who must travel long distances to campus.

The colleges of education, nursing, nonprofit leadership and social work, Lipetzky said, have been particularly successful so far in offering online classes.

Elsewhere on campus, freshmen enrollment is up just over 4 percent compared to last year, making this year's class of 2,237 the third largest since 1989.

New transfers are up 2.5 percent. Walt Wolff, MSU's admissions director, said transfer numbers may be up because of facilities. With a new student union, new student recreation facilities opening this year and the Taylor Center still just a few years old, Wolff said they may be playing a large role in luring transfers from two-year colleges.

And there may be other factors. MSU is working with other schools to clarify and streamline the transfer process.

"This is the highest we've been on campus for at least five years," Wolff said. Total enrollment, including off-campus, is down slightly to 14,085 from 14,151 last year.

Unknown at this point, however, is how other four-year schools in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities systems are faring in terms of transfers. For example, if St. Cloud State University is seeing a 10 percent bump in transfers, MSU's 2.5 percent may not look so good.

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