Title: AU welcomes large student community
Last year, Anderson University saw the highest student enrollment of its 83-year history. This year the number is even higher, filling the dorms to capacity and solidifying an upward trend that officials feel will continue to escalate. Although solid figures on the number of students enrolled this year will not be unavailable until the third week of classes, Dr. Michael Collette, vice president of enrollment management and information systems, indicted the programs that are seeing the increases are the School of Theology, the MBA program, the advanced adult program and freshman admissions.
"We are definitely going to have to look at expanding housing in the next two years," said Collette. "As it is, we are looking for space now for a few more men."
Collette, who tracks enrollment trends for the university, estimates seeing an increase of 350 to 500 students in the next five years based on independent and in-house marketing research.
Enrollment in private or Christian colleges has been increasing across the nation, according to Collette, who recently spoke with several colleagues from several other Christian universities, including Taylor University and Bethel University.
"They are all seeing increases," he said.
The enrollment spikes, according to Collette, are related to two main factors -- the attitude of incoming college students and effective marketing by the institutions.
"We have been doing a very good job of recruiting and implementing strategies to strengthen our image in and outside of the state," said Collette. "That has had an impact on enrollment."
Another, if less tangible, factor that is causing enrollment in private colleges to spike is the difference between the generations graduating from high schools.
"There is research all over the nation supporting this theory," Collette said. Generation "Y," as the students have been pegged, is proving itself to be more conscientious than the much-hyped Generation X.
"Generation X was more into brand name kind of terms," said Collette. "This new generation, Generation Y, seems more concerned about quality and value; more concerned about friendships. I have seen this first-hand in my daughters -- the oldest is a senior at AU this year and the other is an incoming freshman."
Christian institutions seem to generate the type of atmosphere these students are seeking -- strong emphasis on academics, small community, encouragement of both academic and spiritual growth, more individualized attention.
----KERI S. McGRATH is a Staff Reporter for the Anderson Herald-Bulletin.