I have often spoken of the special role the University of Kansas fills as the state’s flagship university. We are called upon to educate leaders, build healthy communities and make discoveries that change the world. And thanks to your efforts, we’re doing this every day.
Our ability to continue fulfilling our mission depends on the talent of our faculty, staff and, importantly, our students. That’s why we must continue to aggressively recruit talented students to KU, whether they’re from Kansas or outside the state, by demonstrating that KU is uniquely positioned to prepare them for successful careers and lives.
The higher education market in our region is highly competitive. Kansas is no exception, due largely to a decline in the number of high school seniors in the state. A significant percentage of in-state Kansas students who apply to KU also apply to at least one additional Kansas university, which means we cannot assume that in-state students will automatically come here. Rather, we must actively recruit them and communicate to them the value of a KU education.
In the past two years, we’ve made strides in how we’re recruiting students to KU, whether they’re from Kansas, Chicago or across the world. And we’re doing this through a combination of substance and style.
We’ve created four-year renewable scholarships that reward achievement and complement KU’s four-year fixed tuition compact. We’re being more aggressive in our outreach, which includes calling and e-mailing students and visiting high schools and college fairs statewide. In August we held our Rock Chalk Roadshow, with events in Hutchinson, Garden City, Liberal, Hays and Salina and 75 high schools in between.
We’re in our second year of hosting outreach events with guidance counselors, principals and gifted student coordinators. These events provide us an opportunity to meet with educators to discuss how to ensure more Kansas students are prepared for KU’s new admission standards in 2016. And these efforts complement the outreach that the KU Alumni Association does through events like 120 Hawk Days of Summer.
This work is already paying off, as this year’s freshman class has the highest collective ACT score in KU history and is 5.3 percent larger than the previous year. The freshman class is the largest since 2009 – and Kansas students accounted for two-thirds of the year-to-year growth.
Of course, recruitment isn’t just the responsibility of our Office of Admissions staff and recruiters. It takes involvement from the entire university, including faculty and staff. One of our most powerful recruiting tools is faculty who meet with prospective students. In addition, it is faculty and staff who create the opportunities, top-ranked academic programs and sense of community that make KU an attractive option for prospective students. Together, we can continue to strengthen the pipeline of talented students who choose KU.