NKU sees increase in applicants

Northern Kentucky University is receiving a record-high amount of freshmen applications for fall 2004 and is on track to welcome the largest group of first-time freshmen in its history.

As of March 1, NKU had received 2,972 freshmen applications, which is an increase of over 26 percent from last year’s total of 2,347 at the same point in the admission cycle, and 47 percent more than the 2,015 received at the same time in 2001.

“Based on the past four years, it is clear that there is momentum at Northern,” said Joel Robinson, director of admissions. “People in new regions are starting to know who we are and the quality that NKU represents.”

NKU is not alone in its admissions surge.

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) found that 80 percent of public colleges nationwide reported an increase of applications received in 2003.

Last year, NKU received a total of 3,889 freshman applications. Robinson’s goal this year is to receive at least 4,000 applications by the Aug. 1 deadline.

According to Robinson, 51 percent of NKU’s freshmen applicants typically enroll.

Taking this into account, Robinson hopes to welcome more than 2,000 new freshmen to NKU in fall 2004.

NKU brought in 2,003 first-time freshmen in fall 2003, the biggest freshman class to date.

Robinson said that the likelihood of having to turn anyone away has not yet been determined.

Although the institution has capacity for more regular admission students, Robinson said admission for students with developmental, or remedial, needs is more restricted.

“We have a limited capacity at NKU for students with developmental needs and may need to stop admitting students in this category at some point,” Robinson said.

Robinson said that new recruiting strategies have played a major role in attracting more applicants.

These strategies include talking to students earlier in their high school career and informing them of NKU’s benefits.

“We find that students are really attracted by NKU’s strong and diverse academic offerings, small classes and safe and convenient location,” Robinson said.

“In addition, new campus facilities, new scholarship initiatives and our learner-centered environment have attracted more students to Northern.”

The university is also encouraging students to apply earlier in their senior year.

“We are communicating with prospective students more frequently than in the past through paper mail, e-mail and telecounseling phone calls,” Robinson said.

According to NACAC, 72 percent of high school seniors submitted between four and nine applications for admission in 2003.

Rebecca Torline, a senior at Bishop Brossart High School in Alexandria, Ky., is part of that 72 percent.

Torline said she has applied to NKU, Eastern Kentucky University, University of Kentucky and Morehead State University.

“I wanted a variety [so] I could have more choices, more options,” she said.

Torline said she applied to multiple schools in the event that she did not get accepted or get what she wanted at a particular institution.

She submitted many of her applications on the Internet.

This is in line with NACAC reports that colleges and universities nationwide received an average of 35 percent of their applications online.

According to Robinson, NKU receives more than 50 percent of its applications via the Internet, with this percentage increasing every year.

Torline’s primary motive in applying to NKU was its location, because it is close to her home.

“I feel like it’s a little more homey and a little more comfortable,” Torline said.

Her decision now lies between Morehead State University and NKU. She plans to choose a school within the next month.

Robinson said that there are many aspects that can influence a student’s decision to attend a particular university or college, including location, majors offered, financial aid and scholarships.

“For each student different factors will be important,” Robinson said. “We have found that the most important thing that we can do is to help build a connection between NKU and the student.

“If a prospective student feels connected to NKU because they received a phone call from one of our student telecounselors or had a conversation with a faculty member at an orientation event, we are more likely to see that student enroll in the fall,” he said.

Robinson noted that this year’s applicant pool is much more diverse than in past years.

According to Robinson, there has been a 55 percent increase in African-American applicants, an 82 percent increase in Latino and Hispanic applicants and a 34 percent increase in international applicants since last year.

Additionally, Robinson said that numbers for both in-state and out-of-state applications are “significantly” up.

“The quality of the applicant pool is also very strong, as we have received a 28 percent increase in the number of scholarship applicants to NKU compared to a year ago,” Robinson said.

Robinson said there will most likely be a slight increase in the number of scholarships awarded this year.

“What I think is really exciting here is the fact that we are seeing sustained growth, and under Dr. Votruba’s leadership we are becoming a more diverse campus,” Robinson said.

“NKU has always offered outstanding academic programs, but under the leadership of President Votruba we are simply doing a better job of telling our story.”