This archived article was written by: Jonathan Fox
The academic school year of 2012-13, USU Eastern administration set a goal for aggressive growth in enrollment. The goal was to have 4,000 students enrolled by the end of four years. Just a year and a half into the four-in-four goal, enrollment is looking positive. Between fall of 2012 and fall of 2013, enrollment rose by 13 percent and between fall and spring semesters, numbers were up another few percent.
Kristian Olsen, director of enrollment, said they are “just taking it one day at a time,” and the goal is broken up into four short-term goals.
“Every year we have to add an additional 500 students,” Olsen said. “We had 2,130 students this past fall, so that means that this coming fall we need to have 2,630 students.”
Olsen explained that the main focus is to just have more applications. More applications equals more students enrolled and attending USU Eastern.
“Last year, we had roughly 2,300 applications, and so the goal this year is to have roughly 3,000 applications,” Olsen stated. “We are about 300 applications ahead of where we were last year at this same point.”
He said that “doing better is not the right term, but we are improving over what we did last year. And that is the goal – to improve just a little bit each year.”
Olsen recognizes, however, that shear applications does not necessarily mean that there will be more students registered.
“There is always the risk that the more you increase applications, your conversion rate goes down, and that is going to happen. Even though we know that is going happen, we are working to keep that conversion rate high.”
He said that the biggest thing they can do to minimize that “slip” is to communicate with the prospective students, especially over the summer. He hopes to open a few part-time positions over the summer whose sole job is to reach out to students who have applied, or shown interest, and to provide further information or aid in the registration process – whatever those students need, the idea is to help them feel that the school cares about them.
Other strategies being implemented to help boost recruitment include open houses throughout Utah, as well as having three part-time, traveling recruiters who visit high schools regularly.
The open houses take recruitment to a location that is more convenient for the student, where they can receive everything that they need including applying to the school, housing, financial aid and scholarships, as well as interviews for leadership positions.
Aside from that, Eastern has been receiving more exposure in high schools. The part-time recruiters work 15-20 hours a week visiting all the high schools in their assigned area. There is a recruiter in North Salt Lake, the Wasatch Front and in Southern Utah.
It will be challenging, but things are looking positive for Olsen and his team.