While it may have seemed like everything was working against Lawrence admission rates this year—mainly the April 14 snowfall on Admitted Students Day—the university set an all time high in freshman applicants. This year Lawrence welcomed 2,734 applications, a two percent increase from last year’s applicant pool, and a nine percent increase from 2009’s applicant pool.
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Ken Anselment credits this influx of applicants simply to the fact that “more people know that Lawrence is awesome.”
Over the past few years, Lawrence has become more assertive with their outreach. This includes expanding the focus of outreach to high school sophomores and juniors as well as high school seniors.
“There are 3,600 colleges out there. We want to make sure that those students who need to hear about us can hear about us,” said Anselment.
This outreach has been physical. Besides sending more direct mail and emails to potential students the Lawrence Admissions team has begun a visibility campaign in Chicago.
“We want to make sure we are showcasing ourselves in ways we haven’t before in the largest metropolitan area within a 300-mile radius,” said Anselment.
These efforts have included a screening of the 2013 Civic Life Project films in a Chicago-area high school, performing a mini Kaleidoscope concert and sponsoring radio shows on WBEZ Chicago.
While these efforts have paid off, numbers also increased in geographic areas beyond those close to the university, such as Chicago, that have been focused on. Lawrence saw a 20 percent increase in Californian applicants and a seven percent increase in New York applicants. Lawrence also set a record with 415 international applicants.
Anselment stressed that this rate increase came as a happy surprise. “These efforts are not to post gaudy selectivity rates. We are trying to make sure that every student for whom Lawrence could potentially be a good match is aware of Lawrence.”
Freshman Andres Capous was part of last year’s international applicant pool. A Costa Rican citizen, Capous learned about Lawrence in Loren Pope’s “Colleges That Change Lives.” This is a book that aims to support a student-centered college search process by presenting colleges and universities that, according to Pope, emphasize the needs of the student throughout the college selection process.
Senior Nicholas Perez recognizes these efforts towards appealing to a wide variety of students as a good way of increasing general campus diversity.
“The students have to be diverse [on all fronts] because consensus has to come from different perspectives” emphasized Perez.
Perez finds the admissions rate irrelevant in the grand scheme.
“The real number that people should be focusing on is retention. “ Perez said. “It is a tragedy when a student has to leave mid-sophomore year because they can’t afford it. They just amass a huge amount of debt and they don’t have a degree to show for it.”
Granted, factors that affect a student’s ability to stay in school are varied. Lawrence hopes to explore these factors in periodic workshops designed as refresher training for faculty advisors. The most recent “Initiative for Retention and Graduation Workshop” was held on Friday, May 9.
These workshops are part of a larger retention and graduation initiative previously described in the Lawrentian, which is being headed by Professor of Music and Teacher of Saxophone, Steven Jordheim. This initiative is the result of a Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education. It will aim to improve and add certain programs including adding a bridge program during the summer to improve critical reading and writing skills, adding a learning specialist, adding a new class performance tracking system and expanding the CORE program.