Fall applicants up 44 percent since ’05

Gaining popularity in high schools is a thing of the past for most college students, but many universities are still hard at work at it. And for Northern Kentucky University, popularity among high school students is on the rise.

NKU’s Office of Admissions has implemented a recruitment plan, focusing on early-targeting of high school students to increase enrollment. Applications for admission to NKU has increased by 44 percent since 2005, including a 10 percent increase over rates from 2007. According to Melissa Gorbandt, director of admissions outreach, the increase of more than 300 applications this year demonstrates a growing positive reputation for NKU among potential students. She said it’s led by both graduate successes and university efforts.

“NKU’s strong academic programs and the success of our graduates has pushed NKU in the top choices of many high school students,” Gorbandt said. “Through President [James] Votruba’s leadership, we have done a better job sharing our story in the community and have worked hard to engage with the [region].”

Word-of-mouth is another way the story is getting out to potential students, and Gorbandt has also attributed the increase in applications to the experiences of current students.

“In fact, some recent surveys of currently enrolled new freshmen indicate that 90 percent would rate their experience at NKU as ‘excellent’ or ‘good.’ This speaks highly of what NKU offers to students,” she said.

Danielle Stutler is one of those freshman. “I enrolled because of the atmosphere and good reputation here at NKU and so far I am loving it,” said Stutler, a spring 2008 freshman majoring in journalism and geology. “I think more and more students will be interested in NKU because of all the flexibility they provide and all the course options you have.

“The price is great and so are the faculty, staff and students,” she added.

Gains in applications would continue to more than immediate graduates of high school.

“We anticipate seeing growth in all areas from new freshmen, transfer, adult and online learners,” Gorbandt shared.

In other words, non-traditional students, whom Lynn Robb is already familiar with.

“I chose NKU because it is close to home, and with three children and a disabled spouse it is important that I can get home quickly if needed,” said Robb, a 27-year-old student this semester majoring in history. “From my experience, I wish I would have chosen NKU instead of (the University of Cincinnati) upon high school graduation,” she added.

While quantity goes up among applicants, there is no indication that quality is going down, according to Gorbandt.

“The number of high-achieving applicants to NKU continues to grow and students in general are applying to NKU earlier in the process,” she said. “These are signs that more students are including NKU in their top choices of colleges.”

In addition, the amount of applicants referred to the NKU Academy, a special five-week program that prepares students deemed capable of success in college but that otherwise do not meet admissions requirements, has remained level.

The increase in applications, while potentially good news for the university, could raise concerns, including a corresponding increase in rejection letters.

However, Gorbandt reported that the amount of applicants denied has remained level. The awarding of merit-based scholarships may be affected when there is an increase in the size of a freshman class.

“Typically, the more applicants we have the more competitive the scholarships become. because we have a finite number of merit-based scholarships to award,” Gorbandt said. University President James Votruba said that need-based financial aid should not be affected, even with Frankfurt’s recent proposed budget cuts or the rise in applications.

“We anticipate a steady flow of new applications between now and July 1,” Gorbandt concluded.