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VSU first-year admissions increases

Photo Illustration: Kayla Stroud/THE SPECTATOR

Written by Ryan Sulski, Correspondent

VSU enrollment is increasing, largely due to newer marketing techniques and nearby states being offered in-state tuition, according to Interim President Dr. Kelli Brown. She estimated a 4.3 percent increase in freshmen enrollment from a year ago.

Dr. Brown said VSU’s current enrollment range is where the school hopes to stay.

“I think 13,200 looks good; that’s a number that we know works well for us,” Dr. Brown said.

VSU had experienced an enrollment decline since 2011, which left the school looking for new avenues to stop the bleeding. The university saw a total enrollment drop from 13,200 to just over 11,000 in that time.

Leading the movement is Director of Admissions Tee Mitchell. With a career background at Middle Georgia State College, where he helped increase enrollment by 73 percent, Mitchell has big plans for VSU.

Mitchell describes VSU as a very favorable working environment.

“Out of all the enrollment management teams I have ever been a part of, this is by far the most dedicated management staff I’ve been a part of,” he said. “(We have a) very supportive faculty here.

“It’s not just admissions that takes students in and retains them; it takes a village. It starts at the top with the president Dr. Brown and her vision of the institution and that just has a trickledown effect to the next level, which is faculty, admissions, registers office and financial aid.”

Dr. Brown said she hopes to mold VSU into an institution with a strong personal connection between teacher and student.  An institution where the faculty takes an interest into each student individually and uniquely helps each student succeed.

“We see you struggling and find out that you have two jobs, how do we help you be successful … so you can graduate and move on,” Dr. Brown said.

Mitchell carries the same aspirations in mind with hopes of VSU becoming the best mid-sized university in the region. He said it has all the amenities of a big university, specifically mentioning athletics, intermural and Greek life, while adding that the school is small enough that students aren’t considered just another number.

Mitchell said he plans on taking advantage of this being the first full year of VSU offering in-state tuition to Florida, South Carolina and Alabama, in order to accomplish that goal.

“If we could get to 13,000 in the next 5-10 years it would be quite a feat,” Mitchell said.

Their primary recruitment effort is the use of buying the names from the College Board of anyone who meets the SAT requirement of VSU.

Mitchell also described another one of their many approaches: the V-State Experience.

“V-State experience events are where we take our open house on the road … a lot of students can’t make it to our on-campus open houses … we take staff from every department and present in front of students from different schools in local states. At the end of the presentation potential students can go around to the different tables for each department and ask questions relating to the major they are interested in.”

VSU’s out-of-state benefits have made a positive impression on students.

“A lot of people from my High School look at VSU as an option because it’s a good school and it’s the perfect size,” said Ashleigh Corbett, an incoming freshman from Live Oak, Florida, who is taking advantage of the new in-state benefit.

VSU suffered a roughly 10 percent decline in freshman enrollment a year ago, but has rebounded with an almost five percent bump this year following the revamped marketing and out-of-state tuition drops.

Dr. Vince Miller, the new Vice President for Student Affairs, told The Spectator earlier this month that VSU has “potential” and the university’s recent struggles) trace back to a lack of permanent leadership. He said rather than VSU doing anything wrong, the university has “lost momentum” due to the instability.

VSU has new leadership once again, but Dr. Miller said he believes the group in place will continue turning the tide. The school has solidified most of its administration, except for the permanent president’s position.


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