On Monday morning, a succession of prospective students trudged through an inch of snow into The Olmsted Room. Many carried umbrellas, a testament to the fact that they are from out of state and unaccustomed to snow. Dozens of college-bound high school seniors and their parents brushed snowflakes from their coats and settled into chairs to watch Eric Staab, Dean of Admissions, begin a PowerPoint lecture entitled “The First-Year Experience.”
According to Staab, the number of non-Michigander “prospies” is no accident, as out-of-state recruitment has been a focus in building the class of 2015.
“I can’t invest everything in the state of Michigan. I am diversifying my portfolio,” said Staab. “As U.S. demographics shift and the Michigan population declines, it doesn’t make sense to hope to get an entire student population from Michigan.”
The 2010 U.S. census revealed that the “Hispanic or Latino” population increased by 43% over the past decade and that Michigan was the only state that lost residents.
With a record-breaking submission of 2,220 applications, Staab and the admissions office have the luxury of discretion. “We have a deeper pool to select from and a nice increase in underrepresented application,” said Staab. He said that admissions aims to enroll 400 students for next year’s first-year class. This is part of K’s “Strategic Plan” to increase the student body to 1,500, which, according to the college’s site, will provide K with more students to fill leadership positions, production and ensemble groups, and athletic teams.
Staab also cites operation costs for the increase of 150 students over the next six years. He said, “The economies of scale has changed.” According to Staab, more students will bring in more money to cover the costs of the recession’s impact, health care, higher student expectations and to keep tuition fees stable.
Last Sunday and Monday, about 90 prospective students came to campus to see the college. “That’s a good sign when such a large group comes,” said Staab. These students have almost all been admitted and are trying to make up their minds about attending K before their general commitment deadline on May 1.
Emma Duffany is one such admitted prospective student. Her high school counselor back in St. Johnsbury, VT graduated from K and encouraged her to apply. She visited campus on Friday with her father to finalize her decision between K and St. Lawrence University, a liberal arts school in New York. For her, K’s study abroad program is “a big pull.” She said other pivotal factors in her choice include her ability to play collegiate sports, distance from home and course selection. Although the application process has been “absolutely stressful,” she said, “I think [K] is great. Based on today, I really want to go here.”