Southern Miss heads back to class - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Southern Miss heads back to class

By Mike McDaniel - bio | email | Twitter

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Southern Miss is once again being invaded by a rush of students as the first day of classes ushers in a new fall semester.

"We've spent the last four or five days helping students get settled in," said Honors College Dean Dave Davies, "working out last minute schedule changes, that sort of thing."

"Oh it's been exciting, one of my favorite days of the year," said Vice President of Student Affairs Joe Paul, who added even with economic concerns across the nation, student enrollment is looking better than last year.

"Enrollment looks great, one indicator I can tell you is that virtually every residence hall room is full," said Paul.

It means about 3,700 on campus residents. Total enrollment numbers won't be released by IHL until 10 days into the semester. But already, it's the same story at the honors college where Davies says in the last five years, enrollment has doubled.

"This year we have our largest freshman class ever of 160 students," said Davies.

Freshman Annie Ellis is one of those students, majoring in special and elementary education.

"I have some really good teachers that I think are going to give me a lot of insight," said Ellis.

She is one of the lucky ones, not having to worry about how to pay for school.

"I have a full ride because I'm a presidential scholar so I don't have to pay for housing, or tuition, or meal plan, or anything like that," said Ellis.

But like most students, it's the cost of her textbooks that can drain a college budget.

"I got used textbooks this year, so they don't cost as much," said Ellis.

As students watch their budget, so is the university. Cuts of around $12 million have already been proposed and a watchful eye on the shaky job market just may have an up side.

"In particular, our graduate enrollment is up by about 6 percent, and I think that may have to do with students with bachelor's degrees finding a slow job market and saying 'well this is a time to go ahead and get that graduate degree,'" said Paul.

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