Eastern Connecticut State University is seeing a dramatic increase in applications for the fall 2012 semester. Freshman applications for fall 2012 are up 49 percent over fall 2011 figures, while overall applications, including those from transfer students, are up 44 percent.
"In addition to the hard work of our admissions staff, I believe the increased interest in Eastern is the result of our improving reputation," said Rhona Free, vice president of academic affairs. For instance, Eastern is ranked in the top 30 public regional universities in the North by U.S. News and World Report. The University has also received similar accolades from the Princeton Review and other organizations. "Parents and students throughout Connecticut and beyond are placing a greater value on the type of liberal arts education we provide at Eastern," continued Free. "The fact our students are also gaining invaluable experience in internships, research projects and other practical applications of their liberal arts education resonates with parents and prospective students alike in today's economy."
Interim Director of Admissions Christopher Dorsey points to a number of other factors that are contributing to the increase. For one thing, Eastern continues to make use of social media and new technologies to attract prospective students. In addition to creating a Facebook page for incoming classes even before the students arrive on campus, Eastern has recently created a Facebook page for parents. This allows parents to ask questions of each other and serve as a mutual support system.
"We also began using text messaging to notify students when they are accepted," says Dorsey. "It is great when we get texts back from students saying, 'Wow!,' 'Thank you!' and 'OMG!'
"We are also continuing to hear favorable comments from students and parents at the college fairs we attend," said Dorsey, indicating that Eastern's beautiful campus, attractive dormitories, small campus and liberal arts focus are all factors cited by students who are considering Eastern. "I also think people like knowing that we attract students from throughout Connecticut. We see students from 165 of the 169 towns in the state -- from Greenwich to Woodstock, and from Canaan to Mystic."
Eastern is also using new web-based marketing tools to great success. "Zinch," an Internet service that links students to schools, scholarships and other college-related information, has already generated more than 200 applications for Eastern, far outperforming print-based marketing used in the past. "With smaller high school graduating classes in the foreseeable future, colleges and universities are finding that attracting students will continue to be highly competitive," said Dorsey.
Another big factor in Eastern's increase in applications has been its move to the "Common Application" now utilized by hundreds of colleges and universities. Officials from the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers have found that the switch to the Common Application results in about a 10 percent increase in applicants, making Eastern's 49 percent increase even more impressive.