When MU announced record enrollment on the first day of class last month, the news was familiar: The number of students enrolled at MU was at an all-time high.
The steady climb in enrollment in recent years is not a coincidence. MU has a target growth of 2 percent each year, said Ann Korschgen, vice provost for enrollment management.
“Continuing to grow at a moderated pace is beneficial for the institution,” said Korschgen.
But, she said, “We must monitor the learning environment to be sure that growth doesn’t compromise the quality of that environment.”
Total enrollment for the first day of classes increased by 1.1 percent from 2003 to 2004. First day figures for 2004 put MU enrollment at 27,088. (Official figures for this semester are due out soon.)
To meet an eventual enrollment goal of 30,000 students — including online and extension students — MU will have many factors to take into account, in particular tuition costs and recruitment strategies.
Tuition costs are rising
Rising tuition costs deter some students seeking to attend MU. Korschgen said the university saw a 25 percent increase in the number of cancellations of enrollment among students who had already paid a deposit to attend MU. Without those cancellations, this year’s freshman class would have been much larger.
With the increase in cancellations, the freshman class saw a 0.1 percent increase from 2003 — seven more students.
“We continue to be the institution of choice in Missouri,” Korschgen said. “But price does matter.”
MU is making efforts to recruit more students. Chuck May, associate director of admissions and student recruitment, said MU has hired admissions evaluators to process applications for admission.
“We’re increasing communication and the speed with which we get back to students,” May said.
Recruiting minority students at MU
In addition to the MU recruiters who travel to high schools and college fairs across the state, May said, MU has instituted programs to increase access to the university for minorities and for students from St. Louis.
Alpachino Hogue, MU’s new minority recruitment coordinator, is responsible for working with minority groups when they visit campus. MU also buses students from St. Louis and Kansas City several times a year for special information sessions.
In 2004, according to the unofficial figures, first-time minority enrollment increased by 2.7 percent to 530 students.
MU is paying particular attention to prospective students from the St. Louis area, which sends thousands of students to the campus every year. For three years, the university has stationed an admissions representative in St. Louis full time, May said.
Recruitment literature also plays a role in attracting students to MU. In addition to “view books” introducing students to the MU campus, MU also prints some literature aimed at parents, said Kate Gray, assistant director of alumni communication and publications.
Gray’s office redesigns the literature every four to five years. She said the office is in a “redesign period” now.
That literature will gain a new dimension this year, Korschgen said. In addition to efforts to recruit African American students, MU is also adopting tactics for recruiting Hispanic students. Because parents of many of these students speak English as a second language, MU is beginning to publish recruitment literature in Spanish. This new literature will target the parents of prospective Hispanic students, Korschgen said.
May said the Office of Admissions offers special sessions for high school guidance counselors on specific topics throughout the year. It also offers college planning workshops at high schools throughout the state to educate students and parents about the college admissions process.
“We’re really doing a lot more outreach,” May said.
At these college planning workshops this fall, MU will offer Spanish language interpreters for parents of prospective students, Korschgen said.