For the eighth straight year Anderson University is projecting a record enrollment, expecting more than 2,700 students to flood the campus by the time classes start Monday. The class of incoming freshmen will likely top 670, according to Dr. Michael Collette, vice president for Enrollment Management and Information Systems. And it isn’t done yet. “We still have one small registration to take place,” Collette explained. “We won’t know the final enrollment until then. It’s close to a record year for incoming freshmen.”
Two years ago the university had to close enrollment early for the only time in its history when it ran out of room for student housing. “We’re not closed now,” Collette said, “but we admitted only a handful of new students in the last month.”
The university expects to have sufficient housing for all freshmen.
The new enrollment record comes at a time when colleges are losing students. “I understand Indiana University is down,” Collette said, “and a couple of other private schools in the state expect lower enrollments as well.”
Undergraduate enrollment at AU will surpass the 2,000 mark for the first time. Of the incoming freshman class, 59 percent are from Indiana. Undergraduate students represent 31 states and 12 to 15 foreign countries. In overall enrollment, students from 35 different nations will be attending classes this year.
In general, AU students are taking the increased enrollment in stride.
“It can cause anticipation among juniors and seniors with a lot of new people coming in,” admitted Miranda Moyer, who finished requirements for graduation this summer. “But it makes the campus dynamic, more fast-paced, and you meet a lot of new people. I came from a small high school, and I was nervous when I found out there would be 599 others in my class (fall of 2000). But when I transitioned, I got to know people and had the opportunity to meet new friends. It’s especially exciting to see people from different nations.”
Nicole Ritchey, a sophomore, also finds increasing enrollments exciting. “Everywhere I go I tell people they should come to Anderson,” she said.
Lori Johnson, also a sophomore, said she was overwhelmed when she came to AU last year. “But I’m excited about meeting the new people this year,” she said.
Johnson resides in Morrison Hall and doesn’t expect any empty rooms this year. Neither does Kristin Hillery, a senior. “Morrison is basically upperclassmen, but last year there were more freshmen in the dorm,” she said. “The more the merrier.”
Tana Stewart, a junior, lives in an apartment. “It’s less crowded that way, and you don’t have people knocking on your door asking for pencils and so on.” Stewart said classes are no more crowded, but it is not as easy for upperclassmen to get to know the incoming freshmen. “There isn’t enough time,” she said.
Even as enrollments have climbed, AU has raised some of its selection criteria for new students. “When you do that and you are in a growth agenda, you have to be very careful how many enrollments you take,” said Collette.
“We have tried to manage enrollment growth,” he continued, “rather than be surprised by who shows up or may not show up.”
The average score on the Scholastic Aptitude Test is up 15 points to 1,075, Collette observed. Thirty percent of those enrolling ranked in the top 10 among their high school graduating classes.
“Among Christian colleges we have built national distinction for business, art and music,” Collette said. “We are learning that when we go out and recruit students, they are interested in programs of distinction.”
In particular, AU’s Falls School of Business has built a very strong reputation. It offers all three degree levels: undergraduate, master of business administration and doctor of business administration. “We now have over 40 in the D.B.A. program,” Collette pointed out, “and half of them are full-time faculty members at other colleges.”
Enhancing AU’s exposure has been recognition by U.S. News and World Report as a top tier institution in the Midwest offering the full range of both undergraduate and master’s level degree programs.
“It is very beneficial as we try to market the institution,” Collette said. “More importantly, it is exciting to know we are being recognized by our peers in higher education for the strength of our educational product.”
Anderson University’s goals are even loftier. In the next four years campus leaders envision an institution of more than 3,000 students, an entering class of more than 700 and an average SAT score of 1,100.
“We have exciting, challenging goals ahead during the next five years, goals we think we can attain,” said Collette.
He praised AU’s recruitment team and the office of admissions. “We have 11 professionals on the road recruiting students,” he said. “We have young persons who give everything they’ve got. They are capable, energetic, committed individuals who represent the mission of this institution.”
And they aren’t alone.
“Every member of this institution plays a role in the recruiting process,” Collette emphasized. “We truly are a community.”
— Writer Jim Bailey is a senior reporter for the Anderson Herald Bulletin ( www.theheraldbulletin.com )