The college received a record number of applications for the 2017-2018 school year after this year’s low enrollment.
As of April 11, exactly 2,309 students have applied to enroll at Franklin College in the fall. That’s about 100 more applications than the previous record in 2013 and about 700 more applications than last year.
Kate Coffman, vice president of enrollment, estimates that number will increase to 2,400 by August.
Coffman contributes the increase to four factors: a new enrollment database, more investments in prospective students, the college’s acceptance of the Common Application and a dedicated recruiting staff.
“We turned over almost the entire recruiting team, and the team that we have right now is really passionate and driven,” she said. “They’ve worked like dogs this year to get these applications and to get these deposits.”
Before hiring a new recruitment staff, the Admissions Office implemented a new database called TargetX. This system changes the way the college communicates with prospective students through digital marketing.
Coffman said the college also invested a “significant” amount of money in buying prospective students’ names from testing organizations in order to build the pipeline of rising sophomores, juniors and seniors who may be interested in the college.
“Historically, the college has always done that,” she said. “But due to budget problems, we had backed off in the past couple years. We think that is the main reason we came in short last year.”
The college was 25 students short of its 300-student goal for enrollment in the 2016-2017 school year.
Coffman said she is working with members of the college to prevent those spikes and dips in enrollment numbers with a goal of more stable enrollment.
“Stable enrollment creates resources that benefit students,” she said. “We’re not looking to change the size of the college or anything like that. We’re really just looking to stabilize where we want to be.”
This is the first year the college has accepted the Common Application, which allows high school students to apply to multiple schools with one single application.
Coffman attributes about 300 to 400 of this year’s applications to the Common Application and the rest to “strategic marketing.”
“The college is blessed, truthfully, to have Dr. Tim Gardner [interim provost and dean of the college],” Coffman said. “He’s done a lot of analysis of our incoming class over the last several years. He was able to create a lot of models that I’ve been able to use this year to determine who is the right student for Franklin.”
The college is being more selective about what exactly the “right student” is in an attempt to lower the college’s admission rate.
Although the number of admitted students is similar to recent years, the college’s admit rate is only about 60 percent — a significant drop from the 69 percent that has occurred in the past five years.
“The rationale behind [lowering the admission rate] is to help with retention to make sure we are bringing in students who are academically prepared to succeed here,” Coffman said. “Our driving factor truly is trying to make sure that we get the students here that are going to be most academically prepared.”