BY FAITH RIVERS
Freshman applications for the University of Mary Washington increased 20 percent since last year.
As of Feb. 4 the office of admissions reported 5,122 freshmen applications compared to 4,505 last year, according to The Free Lance-Star. This increase is a reversal of the trend of decreasing applications of recent years.
“We saw a decrease of applications largely because we didn’t have a very aggressive recruitment model,” said Admissions Director Melissa Yakabouski.
According to Yakabouski, the office of admissions is doing many things differently this year, including using more focused recruitment strategies such as targeting high schools based on data and buying the names of prospective students from high schools.
This year, Yakabouski said UMW enlisted the services of RuffaloCODY, a company that helps nonprofit organizations and universities with fundraising, enrollment management and recruitment.
In the past, after buying the names of students, UMW would simply contact the student once. Yakabouski said the return of this policy was less than two percent. RuffaloCODY has a more enhanced search process and contacts the students with multiple emails, through the mail and over the telephone, which Yakabouski said was a “much more deliberate and intensive process” than used by UMW in the past.
Out-of-state applications also increased this year. According to Yakabouski, the increase is also due to more focused recruiting strategies and is a reversal of another trend, declining out-of-state applications. Aside from a recruitment policy that was not aggressive enough, Yakabouski said the decrease could also be contributed to UMW budget cuts of travel and publications in previous years.
Yakabouski said out-of-state students are important to the college because of the revenue they generate.
“We are dependent on revenue,” Yakabouski said.
As state funding is pulled back, revenue from out-of-state students becomes even more important.
Aside from the revenue, Yakabouski said out-of-state students also contribute to more diversity in the classroom.
The office of admissions aims to offer admission to fewer students in the future, which will make UMW a more selective institute and help with the university’s ranking and perception.
The reputation of UMW as a selective school will impact current students later in life when they apply for jobs, Yakabouski said.
According to Yakabouski, the increase of applications in a positive thing but is not the end of the story.
Yakabouski encourages students and faculty to interact with prospective students because doing so can positively impact them to choose UMW.
“Ultimately it is everybody’s job to help recruit,” Yakabouski said.
By hiring RuffaloCODY, UMW has benefited from an increase of applications.