After falling short of its 2016 new student enrollment goal, the college’s admissions staff changed how they approach recruitment. It’s paying off.
“This year, new student enrollment is 10 percent higher, so we achieved our goal of more than 300,” President Thomas Minar said.
As of the tenth day of class for the 2017-2018 academic year, 304 new students, including freshmen and transfer students, were enrolled in courses at the college. Of the new students, 267 are freshmen and 37 are transfers and re-admits.
Kate Coffman, vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid, said this year’s freshman class is one of the strongest academic classes the college has ever had.
“We’re really excited about the freshman class and the transfer students because academically they have some of the strongest ACT and SAT [scores] we’ve had really in the last 45 years,” she said.
Coffman said that diversity has increased within the class, noting a slightly larger group of multicultural students as well as a greater number of out-of-state students.
“We love our Franklin College students, but we want to try to expand. The birth rate is on the decline in Indiana,” Coffman said. “We really need to be recruiting more broadly both domestically and internationally so that we have a very diverse and robust campus here.”
Admissions counselor Trae Washington said he thinks the freshman class will interact well with everyone on campus.
“This is a class of charismatic students who will mesh well with not only their peers and upperclassmen on campus but also the professors will love interacting with these students,” Washington said.
In addition to aiming for more diversity, the college aims to bring in 330 new students in 2018. That’s a goal of nearly 30 more students than this year.
Coffman said the college might have been able to reach this goal if the admissions staff wasn’t as heavily focused on selectivity. This year, the college admitted about 61 percent of their applicants. They typically admit about 70 percent.
“I think that we made some hard decisions about selectivity,” Coffman said. “But we were really trying to bring students in that would academically succeed and contribute to the classroom.”
Coffman said the college aims to reach a total enrollment goal of 1,130 students by 2021. The current total enrollment is 1,034.
The college’s five-year strategic enrollment plan involves securing 330 new students and growing the number each year, as well as improving the retention of existing students.
This plan is an effort to reach the enrollment goal.
If the college met this goal, it would not have to invest in additional resources—including housing, faculty and classroom space—Coffman said.
Moving forward, Coffman said the college has already received 3 percent more applications than this time last year.
The admissions office has also implemented new technology to connect with more prospective students.
Student Search, a program sponsored by College Board, enables students to receive information from colleges of interest.
Franklin College uses the program to buy prospective students’ names when they take the PSAT/NMSQT, SAT or an AP Exam.
“[Student Search] has a big impact,” Coffman said. “That’s how we get in front of students.”
Coffman said the admissions office focuses on high school sophomores and juniors over seniors in order to start the relationship early.
The admissions staff is also visiting high schools and college fairs more than previous years to recruit students.
“We’re being very strategic about where the staff is traveling in the fall,” Coffman said. “We’re doing a lot more travel than we’ve done in previous years. We’ve spent a lot of time building partnerships with organizations that serve youth.”
A new alumni program is also being piloted this fall to help the college reach more out-of-state students.
The pilot program was designed to find alumni to serve as recruiters. The college reached out to several alumni who served as student ambassadors or had positive experiences at Franklin.
“We’re trying new things,” Coffman said. “At the end of the day, nothing changes if nothing changes.”