Admissions, undeterred, looks for better enrollment for fall

by Alysun O'Brien

The numbers for enrollment this year may be telling a different story than what Simpson students and faculty believe they are saying.

“There are fewer students in this year’s class compared to last year’s,” said Deb Tierney, vice-president for enrollment. “But it’s still one of the larger classes Simpson has had.”

“Even though the numbers look low, this year’s incoming class is in the top ten of largest classes in the past twenty years for Simpson,” said Tierney.

Every year the admissions office re-evaluates their steps in the enrollment process to see what is being done and what could be done better. Tierney said several aspects have either been highlighted or slightly altered from previous years.

n A reception is held in Des Moines for prospective Simpson students. The event was typically held in January or February in previous years. The event has now been moved to November to increase chances of recruiting students.

n An open house is held in the Twin Cities for the prospective Minnesota students and was held just a couple of weeks ago.

n A group of Simpson representatives travel to places such as Chicago and other areas where students may not have heard of the college in hopes of reaching prospective students.

n Mailings are being sent to approximately 3600 alumni in hopes that they will recommend students to Simpson.

“We hope they recommend students to us that are not only their relatives, but maybe the kid that shovels their walk,” said Cole Zimmerman, director of recruitment.

The competition for Simpson is fierce when competing against other colleges and universities.

“If we can get the student and their parents to visit then we can get the student to come to school at Simpson,” said Zimmerman.

However, getting prospective students on campus is a large part of the battle.

“Another factor in the enrollment number is the fact that Simpson is not known well enough by the public, especially parents and students,” said John Kellogg, vice president of marketing.

According to Kellogg, Simpson’s reputation has not caught up with the growth of the college. To help the reputation of the college, Simpson has created a marketing task force.

“We would like students and parents to think of Simpson as a high-value place because we think it is,” said Kellogg.

Several new aspects will be incorporated into the new marketing plan that includes increased coverage with TV, radio, print and newspaper advertisements. Prospectives will also be seeing more billboards around the state and perhaps out of state as well.

“First and foremost, the Web site has to be improved,” said Kellogg. “Web sites are the number one way students do research on colleges.”

Tierney said that credit is due to the students and faculty who put in the time to meet with prospective students.

“The campus community really helps,” said Tierney. “They do a terrific job and have a huge impact on our recruitment abilities here at Simpson.”

Simpson typically arranges for the prospective student to meet with a professor in the major they are interested in.

“If a student meets with a professor in the field they are thinking about, it usually takes about a 20 minute discussion between the two of them and the prospective student is hooked,” said Zimmerman. “There are so many factors that go into recruiting students to Simpson. People work very hard with us when we have prospective students on campus.”

Looking at the big picture is necessary when considering enrollment numbers. Enrollment numbers include returning students as well as incoming students. The enrollment numbers look at the campus as a whole.

“We’re so proud of what Simpson has to offer,” said Tierney. “We go out as hard as we can to get the best students. We feel energized about the upcoming year and the prospective students.”