Commission for Higher Ed notes enrollment growth at Indiana State

By: Dave Taylor, ISU Communications and Marketing Staff
October 14, 2013

A new report by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education highlights the significance of four straight years of enrollment growth at Indiana State University.

"While enrollment has declined recently at many colleges in Indiana and across the country, Indiana State has seen consistent increases, especially in undergraduate enrollment," said Molly Chamberlin, associate commissioner for information and research. "This is due at least in part to a variety of initiatives being undertaken by ISU to attract more freshmen and to ensure that these students persist to earn degrees."

Freshman enrollment at Indiana State has shot up by 45 percent since 2009 and total enrollment of 12,448 reflects an increase of more than 1,900 students during the past four years. Statewide enrollment at four-year public universities has declined by more than 3,700 students during that same time period and stands at 161,007.

"The terrific recruiting and retention efforts by faculty and staff are allowing us to stand out among our peers," said Dan Bradley, Indiana State's president.

A number of new initiatives are responsible for Indiana State's growth, particularly when it comes to freshmen, said John Beacon, vice president for enrollment management, marketing and communications.

"None of these initiatives would be possible without a group of committed, smart, and creative people behind them," Beacon said.

Those initiatives included an expanded prospect pool, an overhaul of merit scholarships, earlier notice of financial aid packages to admitted students, an enhanced web presence, greater use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter and creation of a calling center to stay in contact with prospective and admitted students.

"We also have focused special attention on encouraging families to visit campus as part of the decision process," Beacon said. "Once prospective students and their parents see how attractive this campus has become and they have a chance to sample the Indiana State experience, they realize how much Indiana State has to offer."

Other new enrollment initiatives include a revised, mandatory new student orientation program, a reorganized fall move-in and welcome program, greater focus on the university's strongest feeder schools around Indiana, ventures into tertiary markets in surrounding states and the targeting of specific countries to grow international enrollment. Indiana State has also built its honors program into the largest in history.

Graduate student enrollment is also up at Indiana State. Beacon attributes a 7 percent jump in the number of students seeking master's, doctoral and other advanced degrees to new programs in health care designed to address a shortage of providers, especially in rural areas, and an expanded professional MBA program.

A new "Pathways to Retention and Student Success" enrollment management plan is also paying off, Beacon noted. The freshman-to-sophomore retention rate is up 3 percent this year and this fall's launch of University College and it's "intrusive advising" in which advisors work more closely with first-year students is expected to result in continued improvement.

While it is still early, Beacon said all indications are that 2014 will mark continued progress en route to Indiana State's goal of having 14,000 students enrolled by 2017.

Contact: John Beacon, vice president for enrollment management, marketing and communications, Indiana State University, 812-237-3560 or john.beacon@indstate.edu

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or dave.taylor@indstate.edu