Bethany Abbate, Staff Writer
Many have commented on the fact that the class of 2022 seems particularly small in number. There are triple dorms occupied by two people, and Terra House is an empty residence hall. To what extent do these numbers have an effect on current students? How does the admissions team plan to strategize going forward? These are just a few questions I asked our Dean Bogan.
According to Bogan, this not out of the ordinary as we look at Willamette’s admissions trends overtime. Within the last 15 years, the size of first year classes have fluctuated between 600 and 350. However, typically the happy medium that admissions aims for is between 450 and 500. This year’s class numbers at 394. The profile this year was in line with previous year’s regarding GPA and standardized test scores. But in terms of personal characteristics, this years applicant pool was strong.
“The students that chose to enroll this year really fit at our University. While their personalities are all different, they each have an individual connection with Willamette,” Bogan stated.
However, it is no surprise that enrollment is strictly tied to the revenue of any college institution. As a result of having numbers on the lower side, Willamette has had to make cuts and tighten the budget in certain areas. With that being said, Bogan clearly stated that we are certainly not in any sort of “financial crisis.”
Going forward, the admissions team has a clear direction towards how they can improve their marketing strategy. This includes taking a slightly more “aggressive” approach, as Bogan put it.
During this next wave of admissions, representatives are planning to explore new areas for recruitment, particularly the southeastern region of the U.S. This is currently the area in the U.S. that seems to be promising when it comes to potential growth in high school graduation rates. The admissions staff is also continuing to improve based upon results from student feedback surveys, in order to paint the most accurate picture of what is or is not working successfully. Bogan also noted that many students don’t actually enroll until they’ve been to Bearcat Days. Even though Bearcat Days have shown a tremendous amount of success, admissions is hoping to peak the interest of students earlier on in the admissions process, and facilitate a better line of communication with prospective students throughout the process.
This year’s class only had students from three countries, which seems strikingly low. Bogan describes international admissions as “the toughest nut to crack.”
While Willamette has not come up with the best strategy yet, they are aiming to create more international partnerships, such as the one we have with Tokyo International University of America. Though, there are definitely limitations when it comes to tackling the international community from an admissions perspective. It can be very costly to send representatives on trips for these international endeavors. Bogan describes how there has to be a “return on the investment” when it comes to recruiting the international community, and this is something that nearly all universities constantly struggle with.
The admissions staff at Willamette takes a lot of pride in what they do to present the University in the most humble and genuine way possible. After all, they are part of the reason why you’re here.