With VSU’s retention rates increasing by 5 percent but freshmen enrollment decreasing by 8%, departments are working together to improve their methods of recruitment. This year’s Budget Advisory Council meeting was held on Oct. 18, where all departments presented their funding requests on not only equipment replacements and maintenance requirements, but also different approaches to recruiting new students.
Keith Warburg, executive director of the Office of Communications and Marketing, requested $149,300 for his department’s recruitment approach of undergraduate admissions. VSU has been stressing dual enrollment for three to four years according to Warburg. The approach began with the purchase of lists of sophomore, junior and senior high school names from across the country, as provided by The National Research Center for College & University Admissions, Inc.
“With the growth of dual-enrollment, we are seeing students coming in more and more often looking for credit earlier in the process,” Warburg said. “Research has also shown that across the country students are making that decision on which college to attends significantly earlier than their senior year. So, if we’re not talking to them their sophomore year, we’re missing out on quite a few high-talented, high-quality students.”
The Office of Communications and Marketing is also requesting funding for marketing the graduate school. The USG commissioned a study with a consulting group looking at the needs of enrollment in South Georgia. Some of the studies show that South Georgia projects a population increase of 13,500 residents from ages 25 through 44, but the coastal region of South Georgia is expecting a growth of nearly 19,000 residents in that period.
“The good news is that most of the campuses that offer graduate degrees do so on the west side of the states,” Warburg said. “Nobody’s really serving the east side of the state except for us and Georgia Southern University and that line kind of runs right down the middle. We’ve been tapped on the shoulder by the USG to sort of take over that region to start looking at how we can offer graduate programs. Some of these specific recommendations they are asking for, we are in a unique position to fill from an advertising and program delivering stand-point.”
The division of information and technology is focused on improving the experiences of VSU students. Keisha Roberts, data warehouse information analyst, said that student engagement can lead to retention which is driven by student experience. IT requested funding for more equipment to provide better performance for effective wi-fi and applications such as MyVSU and the main VSU website.
“Around 2015 we were actually listed as one of the top schools having the most wireless issues, but if you were to search now you would see that VSU is ranked among the top with the fewest complaints in the USG system,” Roberts said. “However, the techniques are being replaced every 6 to 7 years, and we’re at the 5-year mark, as well as students are bringing more and more devices. So, with those more devices you need a stronger infrastructure to keep that signal standing strong.”
The student and community experience at VSU is a priority to the administration and is expected to improve with these new funding requests. VSU divisions are working tirelessly at restoring enrollment numbers and maintaining high retention rates.
Written by Kayla Pool, Staff Writer. Photo courtesy of The Spectator.
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