Several factors play a role in enrollment

By Jacqueline Evans

With the recent national media coverage NIU has gained through the Antinette “Toni” Keller investigation, the university has new challenges to face, said Brad Hoey, team leader for Media Relations and Internal Communications.

“We’re faced with another challenge,” Hoey said. “NIU has shown we’re a resilient campus community, and we will all pull together to help each other out.”

Students recognized the university has a lot to overcome after events of the last few years.

“The Toni Keller case and the Feb. 14 [2008] tragedy has brought a lot of negative press to the school,” said Carise Williams, senior textile and apparel merchandising major. “[NIU] bounced back after the 2008 incident, and I believe we will again, but it will take a lot of work.”

Williams said she believes it is not just up to the administration to bring students to the university.

“NIU is still a good school,” she said. “We just have to remind people, and that’s the students’ job.”

In Sept., President John Peters announced Vision 2020, an initiative that has set goals for the growth and development and NIU. A part of this initiative is stepping up recruitment efforts.

According to a Sept. 2 NIU Today press release, “a Vision 2020 committee, drawn from across the campus, will set ambitious benchmark goals for such areas as graduation and student-retention rates; optimal university enrollment, in both size and composition; and the percentage of incoming students ranking near the top of their high school classes.”

The committee will also be in charge of developing a plan for action to achieve these goals.The Admissions Office has also put together initiatives with the goal to enhance, maintain and encourage enrollment and retention.These initiatives include Chicago-based recruitment that works directly with high schools and FAFSA Fridays, an effort to encourage current NIU students to submit their FAFSA as early as possible and help students become more familiar with the variety of aid programs available.

Also included in these efforts is the construction of a new residence hall, to open fall 2012, as well as media-based advertising and many support programs through the Office of Student Academic Success.

There can be several factors to consider when thinking of enrollment, said Katherine McCarthy, associate vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.

“Demographics, the growth of community college enrollment and the economic climate are some of the main factors affecting enrollment here at NIU and across the country,” McCarthy said.

Strategy can be crucial when it comes to recruitment during a difficult economic time and with enrollment growth in community colleges.

“[The Admissions department has] increased communication with prospective students and their families to provide the best possible campus visit experience and working closely with each family to make NIU affordable,” she said.

These recruitment efforts have not gone unnoticed. The Nov. 11 open house is not far away, and the Keller incident doesn’t seem to have affected attendance.

“Our Oct. open house had the best attendance in ten years,” Hoey said. “Despite the recent news, many people still have intentions to visit our campus.”

The Admissions Office said they would like to remind students that they are all representatives and recruiters of the university, especially now.

“I would like NIU students to know how important they are to recruiting future Huskies,” McCarthy said. “Everyone on campus is a recruiter. By sharing your experiences with prospective students, you can influence the college choice of future Huskies.”