With an incoming class of 541 students, the 2014-2015 school year started off smaller than usual. DePauw University typically aims for a class of around 650, but a variety of factors, including changing aid, fewer international students and a generally difficult recruiting year, left DePauw with less money and fewer students than admissions had hoped for.
This year, they have made some changes in the recruitment process to try and bring in a larger class of 2019. Admissions is hitting the international market harder, visiting more schools and working to improve campus visits.
“Our main goal is we want to maintain the academic quality and selectivity but get more students," said Cindy Babington, vice president for admissions and financial aid.
Visits to high schools typically take one of two forms. Either there is a college fair in which different schools have booths or tables set up, and the recruiters or counselors talk to the students who stop by, or a counselor comes to the school and has individual appointments with interested students.
“You have to think carefully about those three or four messages you want to get across to that student and then you want to respond to any questions that they may have,” said Babington. “And then provide them with materials or whatever you happen to have.”
Admissions counselors are finding that perspective students and their parents are increasingly interested programs and majors available. For example, a student interested in majoring in English writing asks questions about the classes they would take, senior seminars and generally how that major is set up.
“We talk a lot about outcomes and the fact that a large percentage of our graduating seniors on the day of graduation know what their next step is,” Babington said.
On campus, admissions is working to make the tours more uniform and provide more programming for parents. During Fall Fridays, when prospective students are paired with current DePauw students and accompany them throughout the day, parents can now attend different information sessions, have lunch with faculty and learn more about the academics at DePauw.
“We’ve had really good response from parents in terms of how much they’ve enjoyed those days and that they feel like it gives them a really good picture of what DePauw is,” Babington said.
Internationally, Loutfi Jirari, associate dean of academic life and director of international recruiting, is working to bring in more international students. Jirari is the new international recruiter this year, though he has been at DePauw for over six years. Previously, he was the Director of International Students Services, so he is familiar with the needs and interests of international students at DePauw.
DePauw’s goal is to have an incoming class that is about 10 percent international students next year compared to the seven percent that are enrolled this year.
“Domestically and internationally, we want to be a leader among liberal arts institutions,” Jirari said.
Jirari believes that affective recruitment include many strategies and approaches, including using the resources available on campus. He has been reaching out to current international students, traveling faculty, students that are abroad and alumni that live abroad to recruit for DePauw. Recently, Jirari hosted a training session for interested international students on recruiting in their home country. Twenty-five students attended.
“They’re all willing to do it,” Jirari said. “They love DePauw, they love their experience and they’re willing to go back to their highs schools and to other high schools and talk about DePauw.”
Jirari recently took a recruiting trip to the Middle East, and is the first international recruiter to do so.
While it is still too early to tell how this year compares to last, admissions is hopeful. Fifty-one students submitted early decision applications this fall, and 45 were admitted. Last year, 26 applied.
Many current students feel that active and successful recruiting is important for DePauw’s campus.
Said sophomore David Kobe, “I think recruitment is important because you need to get quality and quantity in a freshman class that DePauw would benefit from.”