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Ole Miss Growth Thanks Most to Out-of-State Students

The Grove on football game day vs. Auburn. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Communications

Take a walk through The Grove on a game day at Ole Miss and you might notice something unusual. Beneath the large oak trees that fill the famous acreage are signs on red and blue tents boasting the names of the cities and states of their occupants’ residence, including “Atlanta Rebels,” “Shreveport Hotty Toddy” and “Texas Lonestar Rebels.”
The signs showcase the many different places from which Ole Miss students come and creates a new kind of atmosphere for Mississippi natives.
“It’s always been just a Mississippi thing,” said Anne Overton Waller, a senior at Ole Miss from Jackson, Mississippi. “I grew up cheering on the Rebels, coming up to Oxford every weekend with my family. My parents went here, their parents went here, it’s a family tradition.”
As the University of Mississippi continues to grow in size, its population of students grows in diversity as well.
“This year we welcomed the largest freshman class in our history. Our total enrollment for this year hit a record 24,250. Enrollment at Ole Miss has grown by 38% in the last decade and 14% in the last five years,” said Shelby Rae Hamel, an admissions counselor for the university.
Student population at Ole Miss has been rising steadily and consecutively over the past 22 years, according to Hamel.

 

The population of undergraduate students on campus in Oxford has risen to over 20,000 in 2016, an all time high for the university. Of those 20,000 57.6% are from Mississippi, the other 42.4% are non-Mississippi residents.

 

Non-Mississippi residents enrolled at Ole Miss come from all 50 states as well as 90 different countries. The largest group of non-residents comes from Texas, making up 6.4% of the student population. Georgia and Tennessee rank closely behind, tying for third place at 6%.

 

Trey Carroll, an admissions counselor at the university said, “The student population has increased significantly over the years. We have a higher retention rate of students from freshman to sophomore year than any other university in the state, 86%, as well as the largest freshman class both this year and last- bare minimum.”
Statistics from the University of Mississippi Office of Admissions show that the proportion of out-of-state students attending Ole Miss grew significantly from 2009 to 2013.
“It’s so weird to me seeing these people from California and Texas and all these other places coming here,” said Waller. “It’s great, don’t get me wrong, I love meeting people from different places, but it’s just so shocking to me that people from out of Mississippi would come here.”
When asked what the Mississippi legislature was doing to keep Mississippi high school graduates in state for college, Rep. Jay Hughes, D-Oxford, answered simply, “not enough.”
Hughes, who ran his campaign with the slogan, “It all starts with education,” said, “You know, as hard as I have thought about this question, I simply have no greater answer. The state legislature is doing nothing to keep Mississippi students in Mississippi after graduation, and that is a travesty.”
Part of the reason may be a lack of funding from either state or federal sources.
“I inquired with the Institution of Higher Learning and the Winter Institute and the answer I received is that there is no known federal funding designed to keep students in state, any more than federal funds are earmarked in other states are designed to keep those students there,” said Hughes.
Story contributed by Meek School of Journalism Student Amy Rosenthal, acrosent@go.olemiss.edu.

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