NKU offers new programs to attract prospective students

With shrinking enrollment, NKU offers new programs for prospective students

NKU saw a 1.7 percent decrease of overall enrollment from fall 2012 to fall 2014 and is therefore instating various initiatives to combat the decline, according to Melissa Gorbandt, director of admissions.

 As the increasing academic requirement standards, NKU has implemented various programs to enhance the chances of prospective students to be admitted into the institution.

Prior to 2005, NKU had open enrollment, which is defined as the unrestricted enrollment of students at schools, colleges or universities of their choice.

By the start of 2005, the university implemented its first policy of standards for student enrollment. This policy meant that students would need to have an ACT sub score of 18 in English, math and reading, or SAT math and writing subscores of 430 and a critical reading score of 450.

According to Gorbandt, the institution has limited the number of students admitted who have two or more academic deficiencies as freshman.

“The ones that scrape through and are admitted to NKU will join the pathfinders program to achieve success,” Gorbandt said.

This new program, that went live in the fall of 2013, helps students that need additional academic support, allows students to be tracked, has required advising appointments and has required workshops and study tables during the semester in order to help these students to be successful with their academic endeavors.

According to Amy Pieper, associate director of Norse Advising who oversees the Path Finders program, students who have completed less than 75 percent required study tables had an 83 percent academic warning percentage; this means if their grades do not change they may be dismissed from the program.

Pieper stated that out of the students who completed 100 percent of their study tables and requirements, there was a 96 percent retention rate and a staggering 62 percent 3.0 GPA with only a 10 percent academic warning percentage.

There were initially 139 students when the program began last fall. Since then, there have been 61 students who have completed all of their academic requirements and have graduated out of the program. Currently, 48 students are continuing their requirements and 26 students have been dismissed.

 “Dismissed students sit out one semester and can return next semester,” Pieper said.

 Dennis Michaels, a peer coach for Norse Advising, said providing these students with his own experiences can help them with their academic efforts.

 “I generally use my personal stories to help encourage students to help them learn how to do better,” Michaels said.

 Michaels helps prepare them for their academic appointments, study preparations and gives them a lot of practical advice.

 The community factor

Another initiative that NKU has undergone is increasing its relationship with surrounding school institutions, according to Gorbandt.

With the unique plan of the admissions department at NKU, students may attend classes at one of the partnership community colleges, complete 24 credit hours and then transition to NKU for their sophomore year of college.

Partnership community colleges include Gateway Technical and Community College, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College and Ivy Tech.

NKU has also introduced a unique program called “Welcome Wednesday” for recruiting purposes. It allows high school students to come to campus with their families and take part in admissions, financial aid and scholarships activities, in addition to interacting with faculty at lunch on campus.

The purpose of this program is to provide students with a face-to-face experience with those people who will be helping them throughout their college life.

To attract these prospective students, NKU sends information out to various communities.

Due to the shrinking demographics of graduating high school seniors in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana, along with the old two-hour radius limitations, NKU was not able to reach the vast number of the target audience it wanted.

The national issue

According to Gorbandt, the national issue is that the pipeline of available students is actually shrinking. NKU now sees fewer students from the graduating class of 2014 than it has in the past four years. The admissions office does not see this changing until 2017-18, so we have less available traditional students to NKU, she said.

The admissions office is working on conventional ways to obtain transfer students and adult learners, as well as working with students who have left NKU without finishing their degree to get them back on campus.

NKU has recently expanded outside its two-hour radius quite a bit, shown by the university’s current recruitment efforts in Indianapolis, Indiana; Nashville, Tennessee; Cleveland, Ohio, and Columbus, Ohio, according to Gorbandt.