It might be time for VSYOU to take a backseat to VSUS.
The 2015-2016 school year saw the beginnings of the VSYOU advertisement campaign, and this year enrollment is set to reap the benefits. The campaign has produced a 5 percent increase in freshman enrollment from last year, with majors like communications, math, and accounting seeing the biggest growth since it’s implementation.
After years of decline and a large faculty lay-off, a rise in enrollment seems like a ray of sunshine for our college. The campaign seems to be going in the right direction, but compared to 2011 enrollment, which peaked at over 13,000 students, Valdosta State could stand to bring in even more students than it did.
As a side effect of the drop in enrollment, Valdosta State seems to have become obsessed with raising numbers, which, while important, shouldn’t be the goal of a learning institution.
More and more these days, college education seems to have become a business like any other, instead of an opportunity to learn and explore. The VSYOU campaign, too, seems to leave out current students in favor of attracting more freshmen.
Enrollment numbers are what keep the university afloat, but the disconnect between current students and the administration, probably due to the extended search for a permanent president, cannot be ignored.
Some facets of the campaign are great, dropping out-of-state charges for our neighboring states has increased enrollment, and the focus on the individual student’s experience is an important part of the small class sizes VSU has to offer, but Valdosta State cannot ignore current students.
The truth is, students trust each other when it comes to college. If current students are happy with their experience at Valdosta State, they will recommend the college to younger, prospective students. The same goes for unhappy students.
The new intramural turf field is a great part of retention efforts, but the idea for the $365,000 upgrade didn’t come from the right place. While studies might show that students involved in intramurals are more likely to stick with their college, only 1,550 students out of 11,302 participated in intramural sports last year. That’s roughly one in 10 students. What about what the other nine students want?
Sometimes, it seems like the VSYOU experience stops after admission. Shouldn’t ideas about how to improve the campus come from the people who use it most? In the end, students fund the college, and if an individualized experience is what Valdosta State is trying to provide, the administration has to stop over-looking the opinions of the students.
Administrators, listen to what the current students have to say about their experience. Our education is not a business deal or an ad campaign. Invest in the current student body because students are the voice of a university and an overlooked resource when it comes to recruitment. Consider holding an open forum every month for students to voice their opinions, or doing something as simple as emailing surveys to current students to find out what changes they would like to see in the university before spending more money.
Students, don’t be afraid to speak up. This is our college and its reputation, enrollment numbers, and strength of programs are what gives our degrees merit. Try to see the administrators as a group of people here to make the college the best it can be for everyone. Don’t be afraid to ask for more transparency.
A little more transparency and a little more unity could be all it takes for retention and enrollment rates to skyrocket at Valdosta State.