Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Admissions finds ways to market out of state

Students’ home states in the class of 2018 are highlighted, according to the Augustana Admissions office.  Illustration by Ryan Silvola.
Students’ home states in the class of 2018 are highlighted, according to the Augustana Admissions office.
Illustration by Ryan Silvola.

While most Augustana students call the Chicagoland area their home, the student body on campus is made up of 24 states and 15 other countries, according to the Office of Admissions website.
With a population of only 2,500 students, recruiting students from around the world can be a challenge for a small liberal arts school like Augustana. However, the Office of Admissions says that when it comes to recruiting, finding the “right students” and visits to campus are the keys to recruitment success and to developing new markets.
“When we find the right student, our size is actually one of our biggest advantages,” said Karen Dahlstrom, senior associate director of admissions, when asked about the difficulty of recruiting students from across the country.
When competing with larger, more well known schools, name recognition and distance are all factors that challenge the recruitment process, Dahlstrom said.
“Over the last 10 years, students have been choosing colleges closer to home rather than farther away,” said Dahlstrom.
“Colleges and universities can give you stats on their ‘golden circle’ radius, meaning, they are most successful enrolling students within a certain radius of campus. Many are 150 to 200 miles,” said Courtney Wallace, director of admissions Chicago region, who handles recruitment in states such as Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington. “Even if a student wants to attend a college farther from home, sometimes parents are not comfortable sending their college student hundreds of miles away for four years.”
Wallace said that more challenges include finding students who are willing to take on embracing a new culture. Cost of travel and new climates are among these factors.
“Some students are nervous about going to a colder or warmer climate depending on where they grew up,” said Wallace.
With the high cost of plane tickets, it can be difficult to convince students far away to come visit Augustana.
“In order to successfully recruit students, they must visit campus,” said Wallace.
Finding the “right students” is a task that the Office of Admissions continues to work on each year.
“When we recruit in markets outside of our region, we try to target very specific areas,” said Dahlstrom. “We look for high schools that send a lot of graduates to out-of-state colleges or areas where there are not a lot of small school options for students.”
Wallace said creating a diverse student body is what helps students strive at Augustana.
“A college education is more than the learning that takes place in the classroom,” she said. “Everyone has gifts, talents and experiences to share. Diversity in our student body allows current students with all different backgrounds and stories to learn from one another. Experiences in a diverse environment make graduates more well-rounded members of society.”
Dahlstrom also said that long-distance recruiting is essential to diversifying the Augustana campus.
“We need to diversify our student population to sustain our enrollment over the long term,” said Dahlstrom. “Demographics for both the state of Illinois and the upper Midwest reflect a decline in the number of high school graduates. That decline will directly impact our enrollment if we do not develop new markets.”

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Admissions finds ways to market out of state