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Strategies Boost Enrollment

Dual credit, graduate studies and international studies infuse ASU’s growth to top 8,000

It takes creative strategies to increase a university’s enrollment, and ASU’s record growth for the 2015 fall semester certainly indicates that several recently implemented recruitment initiatives are beginning to bear fruit.

Perhaps the most innovative recruiting strategy ASU has employed is the expansion of its dual credit program. Previously, dual-credit courses were only available to high school students who could attend on the ASU campus. Now, students at partner high schools can take courses on their home campuses, taught by their own ASU-approved teachers, to earn both high school and ASU credit. Mason Independent School District was the first to sign up in the spring of 2015, and this fall the program kicked off in Abilene, Ballinger, Brady, Cherokee, Del Rio, Frenship, Glen Rose, Goldthwaite, Llano, San Angelo, San Saba, Sweetwater, Wall and Wylie.

“We started by looking at school districts where our students were coming from, and we saw opportunities to increase those numbers,” said Dr. Javier Flores, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management.

Students who earn at least six credits through the program with at least a 3.0 GPA and submit act or sat scores are automatically admitted to ASU.

The other area to see the most significant growth this fall was the College of Graduate Studies, which posted a new enrollment high for the 12th consecutive long semester.

“We are seeing more and more the importance of furthering education past a bachelor’s degree,” said Dr. Susan Keith, graduate dean. “I believe the growth we are experiencing is due to several factors: our faculty, the quality of teaching, new graduate programs and our online programs. The national awards we have received are testament to the quality and reputation of our graduate studies.”

“ASU has a wonderful staff,” she added. “The team in the College of Graduate Studies believes in taking care of our students. We are sure to respond back to emails or calls within a day. Our staff does an excellent job from the admissions process all the way through graduation.”

ASU is also attracting more international students. About 200 students from South Korea alone are enrolled this fall, including those studying in ASU’s English Language Learners’ Institute, exchange students from partner universities and students recruited through a partnership with the South Korean company YBM.

“We are expecting 50 this fall just from YBM,” said Meghan Pace, director of international studies. “That is a jump from the two or three students we were getting when this partnership started two years ago.”

Dr. Won-Jae Lee of the ASU criminal justice faculty has been instrumental in recruiting students from his native South Korea and is expanding his efforts to other countries.

“We’ve enrolled our first two students from Taiwan through a partner institution, Ming Chuan University,” Pace said. “That’s a new partnership that Dr. Lee has put a lot of time and effort into. He’s working to do in Taiwan what he’s done in Korea.”

Students from Brazil majoring in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields also began arriving in significant numbers last fall.

“They taught us a lot by being a different kind of cohort than we’d had before,” Pace said. “They are comfortable here, they feel at home here. They do well. Now we have 30 or more any given semester. They are the second-largest international population on campus.”

Supplementing all the new and innovative recruiting strategies are the traditional methods coordinated through the Office of Admissions.

“We’ve visited more high schools this year than ever before,” said Sharla Adam, director of admissions. “You’ve got to layer on a lot of different opportunities to connect, whether it’s trying to assist counselors or helping family and friends to be mini-recruiters for us, our campus events, emails and print mailings.”

“Once they get here, they are sold,” she added, “because we are the nicest and the friendliest campus in Texas.”

“You’ve got to layer on a lot of different opportunities to connect.”

Sharla Adam, Director of Admissions

And, of course, ASU’s Carr Scholarship Program continues to draw both undergraduate and graduate students. About a third of ASU students qualify for Carr Scholarships, which are funded by a $130 million endowment, one of the largest at a U.S. regional university. Transfer students and December high school graduates are also eligible.

“I think we are the only university offering scholarships to December high school graduates or spring transfer students,” Flores said. “It used to be that December high school graduates were graduating late, but now, with dual credit, a lot of these students are high-performing early high school graduates and ready for college.”

While ASU’s overall goal is to reach enrollment of 10,000 by 2020, it is also to attract qualified students who will become successful graduates.

“There are different routes to a dream,” Flores said, “and we’re going to show them all the routes to that dream. They will have careers that they love and that they have passion for. As graduates, they will help maintain the quality of life for our great country.”