With smaller number of seniors graduating from local high schools, universities have been forced to be more competitive while trying to recruit them.
Bin Ning, the executive director of institutional research at Eastern Michigan University, said EMU is taking the same approach toward enrollment this year, hoping it will yield the same results from its fall 2013 enrollment campaign.
“The market is shrinking,” he said. “We hope we can maintain momentum.”
EMU enrolled an all-time record of 2,904 new freshmen in fall 2013, according to the EMU data book. Unlike CMU and other competitor universities, freshman enrollment at EMU has steadily increased since 2010.
EMU President Susan Martin has attributed the growth to increasing financial aid and investing wisely in key academic facilities.
Like Central Michigan University, Saginaw Valley State University has faced a decline in freshman enrollment since it peaked in 2011. It enrolled fewer freshmen this year than it has since 2007, according to SVSU institutional research.
To combat the trend, SVSU is taking a similar approach to EMU and CMU – offer more financial aid.
Director of Media Relations J.J. Boehm said SVSU has reallocated scholarship funds in order to reach a wider audience. The university also introduced the new Founder’s Scholarship for freshmen, worth half of tuition.
Unlike CMU, however, Boehm said criteria for scholarships have not been lowered.
Data shows the approach is working. SVSU is up 7 percent in applications, Boehm said. More importantly, they are up 15 percent in the number of freshmen who have signed up for orientation.
“(Freshman enrollment) probably will go up next year,” Boehm said. “We are optimistic, but it is still early, and we still have work to do.”
Grand Valley State University’s freshman enrollment has increased steadily since 2010. The fall 2013 freshman class is the largest in the university’s history, according to GVSU’s office of institutional analysis. GVSU officials were unavailable for comment.
Western Michigan University’s freshman enrollment increased in 2013 to 4,207 students. The university experienced a 3.4-percent increase in freshman enrollment from fall 2012 to fall 2013, according to the WMU office of institutional research. However, enrollment is still substantially lower than the 4,926 peak it experienced in 2008.
WMU officials declined to make any comment about fall 2014 projections.