Enrollment jumps for second year
If you notice more cars in town or if the Baker University campus seems a bit more crowded, it's not your imagination. This year Baker expects to reach its highest enrollment in a decade.
Personalized recruiting techniques, campus improvements and overall higher student satisfaction with the university have led to a larger freshman class and greater retention of existing students, according to Baker officials.
"We're very pleased with the increase," said Baker President Daniel Lambert. "The university has worked hard to put the appropriate programs in place to create the atmosphere students want."
Enrollment is expected to increase 8 percent this fall the second year in a row for such a jump, said Annette Galluzzi, vice president for marketing. At nearly 900 students, the University will likely meet its strategic planning goals early, which call for 1,000 students by 2006.
"We're doing a lot of things right," she said. "It's looking good to reach that goal, perhaps as early as 2004."
Galluzzi said a new recruiting system was implemented two years ago that better identifies prospective students, increases communication with students, provides enhanced financial aid awards. Baker students are also more involved in recruiting.
"All of these things have worked together to increase student numbers and to attract students who are a good fit and will stay here for their entire undergraduate experience," she said. "Students are our best sales tool though. They're happy and they portray a realistic view of the school."
Cost was one factor that intimidated some potential students. Galluzzi said it was a matter of showing them how they could overcome that hurdle through various financial aid options.
"For most people we can make it affordable," she said. "Some people are reluctant to consider Baker because they think a private school education is only an option for the rich. What they don't realize is that we provide both need-based and merit-based financial aid to accommodate the situation of each individual. The average family income for Baker students is in the 40,000's."
Retention of current students has also improved this year. Galluzzi said the university's improvements in housing as well as other campus upgrades have pleased students.
"We feel it is very important to have our facilities reflect the quality of our academic experience," she said. "People often judge a book by its cover."
Lambert also attributed the higher retention to the work of faculty who deal with students on a daily basis.
"Retention is every bit as important as recruitment," Lambert said. "When we recruit a student here, we're making a commitment to do everything we can to provide opportunities for success. Our faculty are very retention-oriented and that goes beyond what happens in the classroom."
The freshman class is expected to have 260 students, 50 more than last fall. Seventy percent of students come from Kansas, 13 percent from Missouri, 5 percent from Oklahoma and 5 percent from Texas. The remaining 7 percent come from different states and countries.
Departmentally, students are flocking to the sciences, Galluzzi said. Last year 45 students were majoring in science, and this year there are 78. The second largest major is business, with 50 students.