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Speed Scholarship Causes Influx In Fall 2023 Incoming Class Numbers
MC is the first institution of higher education in the state to provide full tuition scholarships to all qualified Mississippi students.
With the new Leland Speed Scholarship, Mississippi high school graduates and transfers can attend MC tuition-free as undergraduates. Leland Speed and his family created the Speed Scholarship to make education possible at a school committed to assisting students in developing their intellectual, spiritual, and emotional selves.
All federal, state, and institutional grants and scholarships will be applied to the outstanding amount for eligible in-state students who are awarded the Leland Speed Scholarship beginning with those who enroll at MC for the fall 2023 semester. This makes Mississippi College the first institution of higher education that will provide full scholarships for tuition to all qualified Mississippi students. The Speed Scholarship impacts every aspect of the recruitment funnel of applicants, admits, housing deposits, and enrollment.
These admittance numbers will be tracked until the campus census date, which is the last day of the semester to withdraw and get a full refund. This date falls about two weeks after students move in for the fall semester. Campus officials won't know the final class number until a census of the university is taken on that date.
Visits to campus have increased in terms of freshman engagement. Last year, 363 potential students had visited campus by February; this year campus had 618 potential students visit, nearly doubling the number of visits. Both preview days in the fall were the biggest that campus has had since before COVID-19 hit.
The biggest predictor of a student coming to MC is if they have visited campus. The second biggest predictor is if they have filed their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If both of these factors align, the student will end up attending MC about 70% of the time.
MC is returning to the way it was pre-pandemic and returning to full capacity after being down in numbers. There will be more students for resident assistants to mentor, sports experiences will be fuller, classes will grow, and the campus will have a sense of full capacity. The estimated number of total students for Fall 2023 is 4200 including undergraduate, graduate, and law students. In 2015, the campus was at 5200 students, so the campus has not yet hit record enrollments with this new scholarship.
The large flood of incoming students will change the average first-class size slightly but not much that hasn't been done in previous years with high numbers. “We want to make sure our distinctions of small class sizes and professors knowing your name still apply even in a record freshman class,” said Dr. Michael Wright, Dean of Enrollment at Mississippi College.
There has not yet been an influx of faculty and staff hiring in order to meet the instructional needs of the growing campus population. “There is a cautious optimism and patience as we wait on what our retention rates and melt percentages are for this incoming class and trying to navigate how to predict those numbers as we have never had the factor of a scholarship like this before.” said Wright. “There is certainly an appetite to resource offices that need help in order to handle this influx of students, but we just have to be patient to see what those final census numbers will be before we hire more faculty and staff.”
The largest impact of the scholarship is seen in the influx of students from the Mississippi Delta and parts of east Mississippi. Rural parts of Mississippi are taking advantage of the scholarship that now provides them access to an MC education.
One objection to the full tuition scholarship has been that the quality of students will decrease. However, the academic metric has stayed flat through the course of this cycle of applications.
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