After two years of declining enrollment, numbers are looking up according to recent data from the college admission office.
Applications are up 12 percent from this time last year, and deposits have increased 27 percent from a year ago, according to vice president for enrollment Nancy Davidson.
“I’m happy that we’re up,” Davidson said. “That is certainly something to be excited about, but it’s not anything to take to the budget before we know how everything’s going to shake out.”
Despite the present increase, an accurate sense of the incoming freshman enrollment won’t be determinable until after the National Candidate’s Reply Date on May 1, Davidson said.
“We’re not counting our enrollment before we’re done,” she said. “It’s just not wise to do.”
Davidson also added the Admissions office has seen an increase in applications from students outside the college’s primary region, which she attributes to more students finding information about colleges online.
The Admissions office has also seen success with the new Dean’s Scholarship, according to both Davidson and academic dean Susan Hasseler.
“The main thing we were trying to do with the Dean’s Scholarship actually was to target students who have been engaged in the community,” Hasseler said.
The Dean’s Scholarship focuses on students who have been leaders in their community and who demonstrate the college’s core value of service, according to Hasseler.
“This was really intended to celebrate these really outstanding students who just maybe don’t have a 27 or higher ACT,” Davidson said. “They’re leaders. They’re contributors in their schools, and we just really wanted to celebrate them in a way that we hadn’t celebrated them before.”
Fifty students and their parents attended the first Dean’s Scholarship event, which was held Feb. 17 on campus. Of those 50 students, 21 have already placed a deposit committing to attend Augustana.
While deposits have increased among Dean’s Scholarship recipients, the number of students participating in the Distinguished Scholars Competition (DSC) declined. DSC is an annual scholarship event for incoming students with an ACT of 27 or higher and a GPA of at least 3.5. This year, 193 students participated over the two weekends of the competition, approximately 20 fewer students than last year, according to Davidson.
“Our numbers have tapered off a little bit over the last few years,” Davidson said of the DSC. “We’ve also had more students making decisions earlier both ways.”
So far, 171 students have placed their deposits committing to attend Augustana, up from 134 at this time last year, according to Hasseler. Davidson said the increase in deposits has also come with an increased number of students withdrawing their applications compared to this point next year.
“The positive number is up, and the negative number is up,” Davidson said. “The next few weeks we’re hoping will be very positive.”
According to Hasseler, the academic departments are increasing their roles in the recruitment process as well. Some departments have created Facebook pages, pamphlets and even refrigerator magnets to recruit at the department level.
“It really does take a college to recruit students and to retain them,” Hasseler said. “I believe that our faculty have been so conscious of this now … and our students play a huge role in reaching out to [prospective] students.”