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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The state of higher education

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One area college is completing its best-ever academic year with record enrollment, new majors and increased facility investments. Just over a mile away another college’s board must decide if there is enough expected revenue to continue operating.

This tale of two colleges is set in Jacksonville, where Illinois College, founded in 1829, and MacMurray College, started in 1846, are navigating the ever-changing seas of higher education that have sunk two other central Illinois institutions in recent years.          

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Illinois College set records this academic year for its largest first-year class and highest enrollment. A total of 375 new students enrolled in the fall of 2019, a 12% increase over the previous year, and 1,048 total students is a 10% increase from 2017.

“Recruiting and retaining students is a campus-wide effort,” said Illinois College vice president of external relations Stephanie Chipman.

Illinois College has added new majors including agribusiness, health sciences and sports management and several new online degrees, including a popular RN to BSN nursing program. The school awards an average of $19.3 million annually in scholarships and financial aid, and its “Finish in 4” guarantee gives students a plan to graduate in four years or the college will cover the extra cost.

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