Upperclassmen walking around campus the past few weeks have probably noticed that there seem to be more people everywhere. Well, they would be right.
The fall 2010 semester has brought a 15 percent increase in freshmen enrollment to UNK, which has contributed to the school’s highest student population since 1999.
UNK’s newest class has also brought the highest ACT scores of incoming freshmen in school history.
“We’re recruiting more high achieving students, as well as retaining students,” said Dusty Newton, director of UNK Admissions.
The freshmen retention rate, the number of students that come here as freshmen and return as sophomores, has stayed at about 80 percent the last few years, Newton said.
Non-resident enrollment has increased as well.
“We had about a 54 percent increase of non-residential, non-international students this year,” Newton said.
One of the main student contributing states is Colorado.
“Part of it is that Colorado is the only state around us, including the state of Nebraska, that is growing, in terms of population,” Newton said.
“I think that our non-resident tuition is pretty competitive, comparatively, to in-state tuition, especially in a state like Colorado,” Newton said.
UNK’s athletics are also appealing to potential students.
“We participate in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, so we have a lot of athletes that come from Colorado,” Newton added.
Newton says that UNK hasn’t forgotten its home state students in their attempt to attract those from the outside. A little over 80 percent of UNK’s students are originally from Nebraska.
“If you look at our overall increase in freshmen, we had about 13 percent increase, which is really good, because Nebraska is obviously the bulk of our students,” Newton said.
Newton credits changes in recruiting and marketing strategy to the increased enrollment. “We have just been more strategic in whom we are recruiting, and then also we have really reshaped and refocused our marketing efforts in recent years,” Newton said.
One way they have done that is by incorporating popular social media site, Facebook, into their strategy.
“We have groups, and each of our recruiters in the office has a Facebook page so they can connect with students that they are recruiting in their areas,” Newton said.
UNK’s marketing team has also been using Facebook to reach potential students.
“We are doing advertising on Facebook and gearing that toward 15-18-year-old students,” Newton said.
Facebook allows UNK to reach specific target markets.
“If few want to target a certain message in Colorado, versus central Nebraska, we can do that,” Newton said.
Newton says they also really focus on getting out to high schools and encouraging seniors to come visit UNK.
“We want them to come see us, and come see the product,” Newton said.
It’s not just the marketing and recruiting that get students set on coming to Kearney. UNK sells itself.
UNK was ranked No. 9 in the Top 10 Public Regional University in the Midwest, by U.S. News & World Report, in their annual “Best Colleges” edition this fall.
“I think that UNK’s reputation is getting better and better across the state. This is a large comprehensive university, with a small, private school feel,” Newton said.
Newton said the opportunities including student living, activities and undergraduate research all contribute to high enrollment.
“We’ve got a lot of great things happening here,” Newton said.
UNK was ranked No. 9 in the Top 10 Public Regional University in the Midwest by the U.S. News and World Report.
Video by Sam Spiehs