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Increased applications for fall

Numbers up

(April 6, 2000, Gazette)

Glenn Collins

By Jean Graham

The university-wide focus on recruitment is apparently paying off. Applications for admission to Memorial for the 2000 fall semester are up almost 10 per cent.

“It’s really good news for us,” said Registrar Glenn Collins. “Of course, we have to see the applications translate to acceptances and then to registrations, but if those numbers follow patterns of earlier years, we will see our recruitment effort paying off in September.”

Staff at the registrar’s office have been carefully tracking the application numbers, comparing numbers on a weekly, or even more frequent basis.

The trend that was first observed directly after the formal March 1 application deadline has continued. The number of students expressing an interest in attending Memorial as new students, or enrolling as returning students after an absence, is up in just about every category. Overall applications to the university have increased 9.5 per cent.

Particularly high are the numbers for Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, where as of March 31, 75 more students had applied compared to the same date last year, representing an increase of 15.6 per cent.

Dr. Evan Simpson, vice-president (academic), is also cautiously optimistic.

“If (the numbers) hold, we’ll want very much to understand the improvement,” he said. “At this point, the assumption is that the increases owe themselves to increased activity, increased communications with the public — advertising, public consultations, the president’s extensive travel: all enhance the perception (in the province) as ‘our university.’”

He pointed to the Grenfell applications as being of particular interest, noting, “We’ve located a recruitment officer there now, and it seems to be improving the numbers.”

Both Dr. Simpson and Mr. Collins are intrigued by the number of students interested in transferring from the public college system.

“Some of the most interesting numbers,” said Dr. Simpson, “are from the College of the North Atlantic. There has been a trend in the last three, possibly four, years, showing a steady and significant increase, which bears analysis.”

Of course, getting the applications is just one step of the university’s relationship with students.

From here, students have to register — and then be helped and encouraged to stay at Memorial to complete their degree programs.

Mr. Collins gave the Gazette a summary of all the communications students get from the university after applying and before the first day of classes. All letters have been rewritten in the past couple of years to be more welcoming and less formal.

And Dr. Simpson re-emphasized the university’s commitment to student retention.

“As more people show up, the more we have to remind ourselves that the transition to university can be difficult, especially for those from outside urban centres,” he noted, adding that helping students has to be a focus of every staff and faculty member.