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IUPUC: Recruitment, retention strategies resulting in growth

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Undergraduate enrollment at IUPUC has grown 10.9 percent between 2010 and 2014 for a total of four consecutive spring semesters of growth.

That’s in the face of a national downward college enrollment trend reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Although Census Bureau data is reported with a one-year lag, the most recent report showed college enrollment in 2012 dropped by almost 500,000 students from the year before.

“IUPUC is not immune to the national trend, but we have taken action in recent years to strengthen and grow our enrollments,” said Denise Jennings, executive director of enrollment management and dean of students.

Marwan Wafa, vice chancellor and dean, said those actions focus on both recruitment and retention.

New degree and housing options are attracting students who might otherwise choose a larger, residential campus such as Indiana University-Bloomington, Ball State University or Purdue University, he said.

IUPUC has added degree programs including the Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and the Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling, as well as academic minors in fields such as women’s studies.

And for the first time starting this fall, students can live within walking distance of campus in the new student housing complex, The Villas at Columbus.

Once a student is recruited, the college’s new First-Year Experience Program, a one-credit interactive seminar that helps new students understand campus technology and resources, helps to retain them.

“Having a successful first-year university experience is essential for student retention,” said Debra Winikates, director of University College and institutional research.

Jennings said IUPUC is encouraging students to participate in activities such as student research, study-abroad opportunities and internships. A new Excellence in Leadership initiative helps students develop leadership skills before graduation and exposes them to multicultural perspectives.

“We’ve increased the quality and quantity of IUPUC student-life programming, especially as it relates to student engagement,” she said. “We are helping students understand that getting involved in campus is an important part of their overall college experience.”

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