Stetson Celebrates Record Enrollment
September 17, 2013
This year – a year that has seen significant decline in enrollment at some universities – Stetson University is celebrating the largest undergraduate entering class in its history, at more than 850 full-time, first-time-in-college students after a record 10,500 applications. That’s a 64 percent increase in enrollment over Fall 2009 while also increasing quality markers – students’ GPA and test scores.
Total graduate enrollment is down slightly (7.5 percent), and our law school has instituted a planned decrease to maintain student quality, given that applications at schools nationwide have declined 24 percent over the past two years. While we are seven percent smaller than last year, our entering students’ LSAT scores remained steady and our GPAs increased.
How did we end up celebrating when so many other institutions are cutting back? When headlines and the government proclaim that our non-MOOC business model—students living on campus and interacting with professors and peers in liberal arts classrooms with low faculty-student ratios—is broken?
It is because Stetson University has something significant to offer the world.
Student enrollment is a tricky thing and different year to year. It is often like long-distance running and sometimes like a sprint. Keeping the momentum going is key.
It took us three years (and in a down economy) to refine our data-driven strategy and messaging, and connect with students for whom Stetson resonates. Our university is not for everyone – but it is life changing for the right ones.
It is, as you might expect, about predictive modeling, reallocating resources and constantly monitoring your progress. Most of all it is about adrenalin – the vision, creative thinking and swift efficiency that heightens your senses and motivates you toward the finish line. And it’s also about a mission with heart, and celebrating the collective campus effort when all of it comes together, when the hard work generates solid return.
We have moved our culture and messaging from humility to proud assertion; to thrive, you cannot afford to be a best-kept secret. We are magnifying our strengths while constantly resolving our weaknesses, for universities must look and sound as high quality on the outside as they are within.
To be sure, it is a race against other institutions of higher learning, all competitors vying for the best and brightest students. Competition is motivating, but universities must also look inward – for opportunity, obstacles and the guts to move forward. I am proud to say that we did that this year.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your support of our enrollment efforts at Stetson. It takes the entire community – from our admissions and student financial planning staff to anyone who simply smiles or gives directions to a prospective family. And I want to thank you for your continued support of our amazing students as they navigate Stetson and explore their interests.
At Stetson, we are committed to the marathon as well as the sprint – to preparing our students to lead significant lives, not merely successful ones.
Thank you for being a part of Team Stetson!
Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D.