Last week, the Kansas Board of Regents released the current enrollment figures for the six regent universities. Emporia State experienced the first new student increase of freshmen, transfer, and graduate students since 2007.
But the university has not seen an overall increase in enrollment numbers since 2008 and remains the regent school with lowest student population. This year, ESU’s overall enrollment is down 1.8 percent – 109 students, according to KBOR’s documents.
“I would much rather look at how rates are increasing for incoming students,” said Brooke Schmidt, Associated Student Government president and senior Spanish major. “Clearly, we are doing something right if we are increasing our incoming population. This is a great opportunity for our campus to take note of things we are currently doing and also a chance for us to implement changes in the upcoming years.”
The number of new freshmen increased from 587 students in 2011, to 621 this year. New transfer students rose from a total of 409 to 455, increasing the total number of new freshmen and transfer students by 8 percent – 80 students. Schmidt said the enrollment numbers for this year are both challenging and exciting.
“We have a great group of freshmen students and a campus community that is yearning to hold their stingers high,” Schmidt said. “This is ESU’s opportunity to learn, assess and grow.”
According to an ESU press release sent to The Bulletin last week, one of the efforts taken to appeal to freshmen, transfer and graduate students was the launching of an “integrated marketing campaign that included billboard and television advertising in urban Kansas markets and high-energy events like Hornet Night in Overland Park and the Hornet Telethon on campus.”
The press release also stated that “scholarship opportunities for new and transfer students” were another factor that contributed to recruitment, which was due to a “$7.5 million commitment from the Emporia State University Foundation.”
“Our new recruiting strategies have been successful,” said Jim Williams, vice president of Student Affairs, in an email. “We need to continue this success and raise the bar on our efforts to retain those students we recruited.”
But Schmidt said that in the ASG campaign last year, she and Stuart Sneath, ASG vice president and senior sociology major, focused their platform on increasing school pride and support. This year, she said, they are focusing on current ESU students in particular and investing time in helping others support and foster a shared sense of pride for ESU.
“Most importantly, the campus has an understanding and a commitment to improve student retention,” Williams said.