August 20, 2012
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Classes start today with a bump in new student enrollment
By Cliff Foster
|Participants in the Aug. 16 New Student Convocation sang the Roadrunner Fight Song as part of the event's goal of instilling pride.|
The fall semester at the MSU Denver—the first since the institution gained university status—kicks off today with new student enrollment up four percent over last year, in part because of targeted communication strategies that began last spring to encourage students who are admitted to take the next step and sign up for classes.
The overall student headcount as of Friday of more than 23,000 was down about 2 percent over the same time last year, perhaps reflecting a continuing fall off from an enrollment spike driven by high unemployment during the recession. The official numbers, however, won’t be known until census date, which is on Sept. 5 this year.
To mark the start of classes, the campus is hosting several events this week, beginning with Monday Madness, a festival of games, food, information booths and music at Tivoli Commons.
On Sept. 6, faculty and staff will hear President Stephen Jordan's strategies for the new academic year and applaud the accomplishments of a number of their colleagues. A celebration of the Student Success Building will be held Sept. 5, followed on Sept. 14 by another celebration and tours of the Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center. (Save the Date)
Last Thursday, the New Student Convocation welcomed new first-time students to the University. The program was meant to instill Roadrunner pride, traditions and expectations; engage students with the MSU Denver community and inspire an attitude for academic success.
“It’s a critical piece in welcoming them to the University,” says Cynthia Baron, associate director of the First Year Success Program.
The latest preliminary numbers show student applications, which had been off heading into fall, have recently improved. More important, the number of new students who enrolled for the fall semester—4,876 as of Aug. 15—represents an increase of 198 over last year at this time, says Vaughn Toland, director of admissions and outreach. The number primarily reflects students entering the University from high school, those with GEDs, readmitted students and transfers.
As for new Latino students—an important demographic considering the University’s quest to become a Hispanic Serving Institution —enrollment is up 10 percent, or 104 more students than last fall.
And, as of last Friday, there were 275 undocumented students, new and continuing, for the fall and spring semester who qualify for the new Colorado High School/GED Non-resident Tuition Rate. (These students are not counted toward HSI designation.)
The overall enrollment boost follows an e-mail and automated phone call campaign that contacted thousands of students who had been accepted but had not yet registered.
The campaign is likely to be repeated in the future. “If we just … send them an acceptance letter and then never talk to them again, the chance of them enrolling may go down,” Toland says. “This outreach to them … has really helped our numbers.”
But getting students through the door is just part of the equation. “Now, the key is keeping those students here through graduation,” says Judi Diaz Bonacquisti, associate vice president for enrollment management.