More than 100 unfamiliar faces were on campus this past weekend for the annual Celebrate Scholar Day. And if it's a sign of things – or students – to come, the admission decline from last year will not become a troubling trend.
The high school seniors and potential classmates visited Goshen College to interview for the President's Leadership Award, Gorsline and Anglemyer scholarships, Center for Intercultural Teaching and Learning scholarships and music scholarships.
"We want to bring all of these students to the college so they can meet more faculty and learn more about Goshen," said Lynn Jackson, vice president for enrollment management. "The students on campus had a great attitude, were up-beat and excited to meet potential classmates."
This year there were 100 applicants for the P.L.A., the most prestigious scholarship given to first-year students. Last year only 68 prospective students applied for the award.
The increase in Goshen applicants isn't limited to those going for the P.L.A.. Already this year the admission office has received more first-year student applications (566 as of Tuesday afternoon) than they received last year by the end of August (557).
Last fall the college announced a significant decrease in first-year students from the previous class (172 compared to 202 in 2007).
The admission team has drafted 22 new initiatives to increase enrollment. Additionally, admission moved up the priority application deadline from Dec. 15 to Nov. 15.
Unlike last year, there is now a full admission staff.
In other changes, the admission staff adapted how often prospective students receive certain mailings. "We send information when [prospectives] need it and not overwhelm them," Jackson said.
The college is working hard to attract regional students. There are now four counselors who focus on regional admission, which includes Indiana, western Ohio, southern Michigan and parts of eastern Illinois.
"We believe there are students within that area that have never heard of Goshen College who would make great students," Jackson said. "We found that [regional] students didn't know we were here."
But the admission office isn't forgetting traditionally Mennonite locations. "We have not stopped traveling to the places we traditionally go to recruit students," Jackson said. "We aren't cutting anything. We're expanding. We want to continue to work with students who are coming from Mennonite Church USA."