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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

October 8, 2004

Demographic trends present enrollment challenges

by Karen Bolluyt

Demographic trends present enrollment challenges for Midwest colleges and universities, including Iowa State.

(Click on map for larger image.)

The number of Iowa high school graduates will drop by eight percent between 2003 and 2012. Similar decreases in graduating 12th graders will occur in every bordering state except Illinois and in most states in the central United States.

This decline in Iowa State's traditional pool of prospective students is one reason ISU President Gregory Geoffroy has appointed an Enrollment Leadership Council (ELC). The council's charge is to give special attention to three areas:

  • Increasing the effectiveness of recruitment, marketing and financial-aid programs directed at new freshmen.
  • Improving success in recruiting transfer students, particularly from Iowa community colleges.
  • Retaining and graduating existing students.

Geoffroy said he plans to be directly involved and will lead the ELC. He added that meeting the enrollment challenge posed by Iowa demographics requires the efforts of faculty and staff throughout the university, and that he will be inviting students to become Iowa Staters during his many visits to Iowa high schools this year.

Geoffroy also announced that Benjamin Allen, vice president for academic affairs and provost, will work with college deans to develop enrollment-based financial incentives for programs with growing enrollments.

(Click on chart for larger image.)

Enrollment projections based on historical trends and current recruiting efforts suggest a decline from this year's 26,380 students to 25,163 students three years from now (fall 2007) due to the fall in Iowa's high school graduates. Enrollment is projected to stabilize until 2011 and then decline again.

These numbers assume that Iowa State will continue to recruit the same share of Iowa high school graduates and transfer students and maintain its student retention rates, although the ELC will be working hard to impact positively each of these areas.

Geoffroy noted the negative effects of declining students numbers on tuition revenue, residence hall occupancy, and the Ames community. A difference of 200 students, for example, has a $1.5 million impact on the university's budget.

"We simply must change these trend lines to keep Iowa State strong and with a healthy budget," he said.

Committee members

Enrollment Leadership Council members are:

  • Gregory Geoffroy, president
  • Johnny Pickett, business and finance
  • Stan Johnson, Extension
  • Tom Hill, student affairs
  • Mark Chidister, president's office
  • Marc Harding, admissions
  • David Holger, provost's office e
  • Kathy Jones, records and registration
  • Michael Whiteford, Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Carole Custer, university marketing
  • Gersham Nelson, president's office

What you can do

Most people on campus, in all kinds of jobs, have opportunities to support enrollment efforts and students' success once they get here. Marc Harding, director of admissions mentioned, for example:

  • Make personal calls to prospective students and their parents
  • Reply promptly to all inquiries
  • Go the extra mile to be helpful to current and prospective students