Now that it’s fall, we’re particularly focused on recruiting next year’s freshman class.
While this year we experienced an overall decrease in enrollment – down just under 200 students compared to last year, mostly due to the number of nonreturning students – the number of new freshmen was up around 50 students, which is a trend we want to continue.
Also encouraging is the type of freshmen we’re attracting. These new first-year students are arriving with a higher academic profile than ever before. In fact, over 80 percent of our regular admit freshmen will have a freshman index at or greater than 2,500, with 25 percent having a freshman index of 3,000.
(Please visit this profile of David Chyan for a first-hand account of why this exceptional student chose GRU).
That’s very good news. It shows that our university has really begun to make an impact in the minds of all Georgians, especially with those high-level students who have opportunities to attend other great schools. As these students move through our institution, they will serve as examples to those arriving behind them as well as advocates for the high-quality educational opportunities offered at Georgia Regents University, which will of course be renamed Augusta University on Dec. 1.
The name change brings with it unique and very specific challenges, and we’re working diligently to make sure prospective students are equipped with the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding the application process. We’re finding that certain codes used by some of the outside entities involved in the application and enrollment process have already switched to recognize the new name, while others have not and still others may lag behind. While these are short-lived issues that will resolve themselves relatively quickly, they are nevertheless real difficulties that will certainly require us to be on our game this recruitment season.
That said, we had begun restructuring our recruitment activities long before the name change, including implementing staff changes that have resulted in a new associate vice president for enrollment services, a new director of admissions, two new regional recruiters and a new director of financial aid.
This enhancement of our student recruitment represents a maturing that coincides with our new role as the state’s fourth comprehensive research university. Historically, recruitment was far less of a priority; now, we find ourselves shoulder to shoulder with other universities in an intensely competitive arena. We realize that the students we’re recruiting likely hold acceptances from other great schools, which means that we have to make the very best impression possible.
Obviously, one of the best recruitment tools we have is our physical campus, which is occupied by a first-rate faculty and staff. Getting students and their families on campus and interacting with our people always helps tip the scales, and we give students several great opportunities to see firsthand what we’re all about.
We’re also continuing the popular program of hand-delivered acceptances. Last year, it was Al E. Cat who went out into the community delivering acceptance letters, while this year it’s Augustus. Either way, the personal touch has certainly resonated with the students, who continue to post and share pictures of this proud moment.
Augustus won’t only be delivering acceptances in the CSRA, however. He’s also heading to the Atlanta area, which is the other major recruiting market beyond the immediate area. Particularly in November, we will be spending a lot of time in Atlanta, conducting two road shows as well as a counselor luncheon.
Regarding the immediate area, we are also recommitting to local recruitment. We realize just how many great students we have right here in our own backyard, and as we expand the scope of our recruiting, we want to make sure we’re not overlooking them.
And by doing more and more junior-year recruitment everywhere – starting the process earlier and earlier – we’re ensuring that we’re keeping the pipeline primed. The more people experience us, the more competitive we are.
Such a shift doesn’t happen overnight, of course, and though we’re encouraged by our initial progress, we want people close to the university to understand that gaining momentum takes time. It takes resources, which we continue to commit to the cause, and it requires a very focused and intentional effort, which our dedicated staff never fails to give.
We’re seeing definite signs that this approach is working, and I’m sure all of us will make sure that we do everything we can to build off of this momentum. Please remember that, even as we continue to strengthen our dedicated recruitment staff, every one of us affiliated with Augusta University is a recruiter. The future we’re building for our institution is a bright one, and we’re getting there one great student at a time.