By: Manuel Almanza
Eastern Illinois University’s student to faculty ratio is 15:1. Students benefit from smaller classroom sizes but smaller departments are concerned with student enrollment.
EIU seniors Patrick Manselle and Steven Oldham are two of 13 geology majors at EIU. Like most students in small majors, they have formed strong relationships with professors and students in their department.
“Besides the intro courses, our classes are typically less than 17,” said Manselle. “It means we have really gotten to know each other over the years.”
This has given Manselle and other students a strong network of support and a tight knit community.
“We go out together, study together, we even car pool sometimes,” said Oldham.
While the small size of EIU’s classes has helped in fortifying student interaction. It also draws some concern for the future of small departments.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love that my professors and classmates know me so well” said Oldham “But a lot of us are seniors and I’m not sure how many incoming freshmen are going to join the department.”
With undergraduate enrollment down 34% in the last five years, EIU’s student body is significantly reduced. This means that smaller departments like Geology must push themselves to obtain new students.
The department has seen a lot of progress despite this. They continue to take students on trips, conduct research, and promote themselves in a variety of different ways.
“We went on a trip last semester to Colorado,” Said Oldham “We’re really working on showing off the fun side of geology. Showing students what great things there are to discover out there.”
While the enrollment numbers may be down, its clear that EIU students are optimistic about the future of the school and are using their smaller size to increase the quality of their student body.