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Dec. 8, 2011 Volume 33, No. 15

Freshman class of 2012 taking shape

Honors Day

VISIT MIZZOU Admissions volunteer Zachary McGowan gives an information packet to high school senior Maddie Olmstead of Palmyra, Mo., at a Black and Gold Day event Oct. 25 in Reynolds Alumni Center. It is one of several events the Office of Admissions hosts for prospective students. McGowan, a sophomore journalism major at MU, is a member of Admissions’ United Ambassador Student Recruitment Team. Olmstead has been accepted to Mizzou and plans to study psychology when she starts classes next fall. Nicholas Benner photo


Recruiting efforts pay off

This fall marked the ninth consecutive year of recordbreaking enrollment at the University of Missouri, and the trend could continue in fall 2012. As of Dec. 1, applications have increased by 2,227 over last year, bringing the total number of applicants to 15,724. Freshman deposits (those who have paid the $150 enrollment fee) are up 332 over last year for a total of 2,153. This figure is down 233 from two years ago.

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions in the Division of Enrollment Management is at the forefront of a 32 percent increase in undergraduate students since 2002. All schools and colleges are reporting increases in applications. Staff work year-round to attract high school and junior college students to Columbia and to inform them about MU through a variety of means.

“Outreach is critical,” said Barbara Rupp, director of admissions. “I don’t think we can assume that if we open the door, students will just come in. We make many efforts to reach out to prospects and to guidance counselors. We work with them from 10th grade on to help them to know about Mizzou.”

Rupp and her colleagues contact students and their parents throughout the year via direct mail and email. Once prospective students become interested in attending MU, the Admissions office encourages them to visit the campus and meet with faculty and academic advisers.

To facilitate face-to-face communication with thousands of people across Missouri and around the United States, Admissions has a 13-member team of recruiters. Seven of these recruiters travel around Missouri, while each of the remaining six is responsible for a larger geographic area centered around a major city. These regional recruiters are located in Chicago (home to two recruiters), Dallas, Kansas City and St. Louis, plus a recruiter in Tulsa who spends most of her time in Minneapolis and Denver.

“The recruiters’ main duties are to visit high schools, attend college fairs and planning workshops, and meet with students and parents that visit Mizzou,” said Chuck May, senior associate director of admissions. “We have seen a major growth in interest about Mizzou from out-of-state students and families.”

Students’ knowledge about MU varies by region.

“In states that border Missouri, students know more about us simply because of proximity,” said recruitment coordinator Dusty Barker. “In Nebraska and also in the Memphis area, people know a lot about Mizzou because we’ve played against their teams in big football and basketball games.”

May said that they have seen an increase in out-of-state visitors to campus. The Admissions Office hosted 33,000 visitors last year, compared with 18,000 in 2002.

To meet increased demand for campus tours, the Office of Visitor Relations has added 15–20 student tour guides for a total of 55–60, said LeAnn Stroupe, director of visitor relations.

Admissions works closely with the MU Budget Office, the University Registrar, and the College of Arts and Science to project enrollment figures. The office also coordinates with the Department of Residential Life to try to ensure sufficient housing for incoming freshmen.

The Division of Enrollment Management reiterates that applications could be front-loaded this fall because more students appear to be applying early to secure on-campus housing. The housing selection process favors early applicants. Early December is also key to the admissions timeline because departmental scholarship applications are due Dec. 1.

Significant increases in out-of-state applications make it tough to predict the number of students who will actually show up next fall because out-of-state applicants have a lower yield (probability of enrolling) than in-state applicants. However, the continued decline of Missouri high school graduates makes recruiting out-of-state essential to maintaining enrollment goals.

MU also is expanding its recruiting globally. John Wilkerson joined Admissions as assistant director of international recruitment in September. He was previously study abroad director for the MU School of Journalism and director of admissions for Columbia College.

Rupp said MU is targeting countries with emerging middle classes, as well as nations where the government sponsors students. These countries include Brazil, Turkey and others in the Middle East and Central and Southeast Asia.

“We’re starting to work on targeted advertising,” Rupp said. “Most of our communication with international students is through email.”  

MU will now have greater opportunity to expand its recruitment within the U.S. with the Tigers set to join the Southeastern Conference in July 2012. Rupp said the closest metropolitan recruiting grounds for MU are Memphis, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky. She added that the university will use Chicago as a model for its recruitment efforts in Atlanta and other cities in the SEC footprint.

“Once you get beyond a 300-mile radius, it gets a little more difficult to convince students to come, unless they’re here for a signature program,” Rupp said.

“From Chicago, initially, students came for journalism, but as they got to know Mizzou better they came for other programs as well. That’s what we hope to see in these new markets beyond Missouri.”

Ryan Schmitz