Missouri Southern State University saw a smaller-than-expected decline in enrollment this fall while experiencing a significant increase in the number of high-school students looking to get a jump-start on their higher education careers.

Overall enrollment dropped by 2.7 percent from Fall 2017 – 6,006 students compared to 6,174 last fall. The total number of credit hours dropped by 3.4 percent, from 72,234 to 69,771.

Due to a recent tuition increase, university officials had previously anticipated a drop of up to 5 percent.

“Students are viewing Missouri Southern as an attractive, valuable option when they’re making a decision about their educational investment,” said Admissions Dean Michael Sanders.

A total of 908 freshman students enrolled for the fall semester. While down by 104 from last year, the number still represents one of the largest classes welcomed by the university, according to Sanders.

The number of graduate students saw a slight increase, while the number of freshman international students was up 16 percent.

Enrollment in the university’s dual credit program, which allows students to earn college credit while still in high school, rose by an impressive 30 percent. A total of 607 students enrolled in the program, up from 479 in 2017.

“One of our greatest areas for growth is in this ‘pre-college’ sector – we’re finding more and more students want to make earlier progress on their college course requirements,” Sanders said. “We’re working hard to keep these numbers moving in the right direction.”