ERIC Number: EJ847204
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-May-29
Reference Count: 0
This Year, Colleges Recruited Students in a "Hall of Mirrors"
Hoover, Eric; Supiano, Beckie
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n38 pA1 May 2009
Admissions deans everywhere shared concerns about recruiting students during a recession as they tried to discern how, or if, the economy would affect demand for their institutions. Amid this uncertainty, colleges used many different strategies. Some recruited more here and less there. Some offered more merit aid, while others scaled back. Some created big waiting lists, yet others went without them. But several common themes emerged in a new "Chronicle" survey of senior enrollment officers, and in interviews with two dozen admissions professionals, who recruited during this especially difficult cycle. The survey of a cross section of 142 four-year institutions revealed that while private colleges had planned to increase their freshman class by 2 percent on average, they admitted 8.7 percent more students. The public institutions surveyed had planned to increase their freshman classes by 2.4 percent on average, and they admitted just 3.1 percent more students. Conventional wisdom held that private colleges would struggle to fill their classes this year, while public ones would have to turn away droves of students chasing lower sticker prices. Although record waves of applications hit some state universities, generalizations are tricky, as Molly Arnold can attest. Ms. Arnold, director of admissions at Illinois State University, saw that applications were up significantly as of November 15, the deadline for priority consideration. Monica C. Inzer, Hamilton College's dean of admission and financial aid, heard from parents who said that uncertainty about jobs and savings had persuaded them to seek less-expensive options. Currently, focus is on the "summer melt," the handfuls of applicants who send deposits but do not end up enrolling. Some colleges would welcome the melt. Warren Wilson College, in North Carolina, was down in visits until April, when 300 students showed up--100 more than the year before. Warren Wilson offers an attractive arrangement in a bad economy: it is a work college, where students spend 15 hours a week laboring--electrical work, cleaning toilets--as a way to keep tuition low. The future likely holds more volatility for admissions. Building a freshman class has become more complicated as students apply to more colleges. The demographics of college-going populations are changing. And some deans suspect that the recession will weigh even heavier on next year's applicants.
Descriptors: High School Freshmen, Deans, Administrator Attitudes, School Surveys, Enrollment Management, Enrollment Trends, Student Recruitment, Social Influences
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A