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SMC increases admissions, creates Web site

Ashley Charnley | Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Saint Mary’s Office of Admissions has noticed trend changes from previous applicant pools because of the current recession; however, the 1,126 women accepted for the College’s class of 2013 marks an increase of about 30 students from last year’s figure, Dan Meyer, vice president of enrollment, said.

“This has been a more challenging recruitment campaign this year due to economic factors. Let’s face it, home values are down, people are losing their jobs or concerned about lost wages, and savings are nearly 40 percent less than this time last year,” Meyer said.

There are three areas where the economy has affected the admissions process this year, he said.

Application numbers are close to last year’s totals, however there has been a greater number of students applying for financial aid, the applicants applying for aid have a greater amount of need than before and students are taking longer to make their final decision.

“We have had more students apply, visit campus, participate in Meet Me at the Avenue and even apply for financial aid but, many families this year are fully evaluating all of their financial options before making a final decision,” Meyer said.

The economy has made families be much more conscious of the college their daughters will be attending.

“This has caused us to spend more time on the phone working with families concerning financial issues,” Meyer said.

Meyer said although numbers are not final, they still are hoping to make their budget target of 460 first year students in the 2009-10 school year.

What admissions is looking for in students has not changed. Meyer did say the selection process focuses on academics, but also takes many other factors into account.

“Clearly we have an academic focus in mind but we also seek to find that applicant who will use her God-given talents to make positive contributions that will enrich Saint Mary’s community of scholars,” Meyer said.

These desired applicants include students who are interested in extracurricular activities such as athletics, campus ministry, fine arts and community service, he said.

“We want well-rounded students who also happen to be great students academically,” Meyer said.

In spite of economic factors, on the surface, the incoming class will not be different from past classes in terms of their GPAs and SAT or ACT scores, he said.

The largest distinction between the class of 2013 and classes that have preceded can be seen in the College’s adjustments to the financial aid policy in order “to reflect the higher need levels we have encountered with this group of students,” Meyer said.

The applicant group this year has shown increased numbers in diversity as opposed to previous years.

Of the current total of 1,337 applicants, 15.6 percent are from diverse backgrounds, comapared to 13.5 percent from last year and 12.5 percent from two years ago, Meyer said.

Although figures aren’t final there is a good chance the Saint Mary’s class of 2013 will show an increase in diverse students from the class of 2012.

“So, with continued success over the next five weeks, the class of 2013 will be one of the most diverse in College history,” Meyer said.

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SMC increases admissions, creates Web site

Megan Loney | Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Saint Mary’s College has joined the growing number of colleges and universities who have adapted to the age of the Internet by launching a networking site for accepted students this year.

The designing and building of the “I’m Saint Mary’s” Web site began in June of 2008, and the site went live Dec. 15 at the same time as the first round of acceptance letters were sent to early decision applicants.

The idea for the Web site was suggested in a discussion regarding ways to increase the number of students who enroll for the fall, or yield of the accepted student population, Assistant Director of Admissions Stephanie Brown said.

“The purpose of ‘I’m Saint Mary’s’ is to give accepted students the opportunity to build their own Saint Mary’s community and become part of the existing SMC community before they ever arrive on campus. This, in turn, will help these students to determine if Saint Mary’s is truly the best ‘fit’ for them as they make their final college decision,” Brown said.

As of April 7, the Web site’s homepage – iam.saintmarys.edu – stated that 394 students participate as members of the networking site. So far, these students have collectively uploaded 1,672 pictures, posted 11,765 notes and set 91 goals for themselves.

“I think the most popular part of the Web site are the discussion boards. Originally our thought was to have our interns create discussions so the students could participate in the site. However, the accepted students have been the ones to create most of the discussion topics,” Brown said.

Discussions include a wide variety of topics, she said.

“They have started discussions on anything from who is definitely coming to Saint Mary’s next year, to who is looking for a roommate, what sports they are interested in at the collegiate level and even how to make the adjustment from the California climate to the Northern Indiana climate,” Brown said.

There are current Saint Mary’s students who are involved with the Web site, as well as administrators. The students’ duties include addressing questions students have about the Saint Mary’s community and student life. There are four students who write weekly blogs about campus life to give the students a glimpse about daily life at Saint Mary’s.

“The Web site is a product of Education Dynamics – formerly known as Goal Quest – that is a company that specializes in enrollment management products for institutions of higher education,” Brown said.

Education Dynamics currently lays claim to helping over 1,800 higher education institutions including the University of South Carolina, New York University and Columbus College of Art and Design.

While the Web site is meant to allow students to form a flourishing bond with one another, it is limited to accepted students for the incoming class of 2013.

“The ‘I’m Saint Mary’s’ site is exclusively for accepted students. Once they have arrived on campus in the fall and get settled in to daily college life, they will no longer have access to the site. Each year the site will be limited to the next accepted class,” Brown said.

In order to limit the access to the Web site, the admissions department sends the company a weekly updated list of accepted students, along with their first and last names and e-mail addresses which grant students access to the Web site.

Although the date for current accepted students to transition out of the network is not yet determined, those who work with the site are planning ahead to make the transition smooth.

“When that [transition] time comes, we will begin preparing the site for the next accepted class of 2014, and we will be encouraging these students to begin their own SMC social networks on other sites such as Facebook or MySpace in order to keep this established community going strong,” Brown said.

It is too early to determine the effect of the Web site on enrollment for next year, Brown said, but the Department of Admissions should have a definite idea in late May to early June.