Freshmen enrollment rises by at least 20% as SVSU woos high school students


The current fall semester has seen freshman enrollment increase by at least 20 percent as compared to last year’s figures, according to university officials.

After a period of low numbers, the spike in interest among high school graduates is due to various factors in SVSU’s marketing strategy. Those strategies include a restructuring of the university’s financial aid package into a more needs-based system, hosting the FIRST Robotics State Championship, adding new means of attaining scholarships and a continuation of last year’s “We Cardinal” marketing campaign.

Although freshman enrollment has jumped, overall enrollment has remained consistent due to large graduation numbers.

According to J.J. Boehm, the director of media and community relations, a push by Admissions to gain more representatives in areas such as Metro Detroit has made a noticeable impact on enrollment.

“In Admissions, we have more regional representatives, staff who live in target areas … and work from home, which allows them to visit more high schools, attend more college fairs, etc.,” Boehm said.

Boehm said that in 2016, only 21 percent of surveyed high school students could recall hearing a message promoting the SVSU. This number increased to 39 percent in 2018.

Admissions is making a stronger effort to get involved with young high school students as well, extending their reach beyond that of only juniors and seniors. Jen Pahl, the director of admissions, said early contact with young students was a point of focus for Admissions.

“We are making earlier contact with sophomores in high school who took a Pre-SAT test to promote earlier awareness of SVSU among prospective students,” Pahl said.

SVSU’s housing department has had to tackle the challenge of bringing on a larger quantity of students into the dorms.

“The high level of freshman interest has challenged Housing staff to come up with some creative room assignments,” said Ron Portwine, the associate vice president of Administrative Affairs.

According to Boehm, there are 1,128 freshmen on campus compared to last year’s 856. There are approximately 1,575 students in this year’s freshman cohort, up from last year’s 1,230.

This has proved challenging for Housing, especially after the First Year Suites were fully updated to be entirely single-bedroom going into this year. Around 71% of this year’s freshmen have opted to live on campus. The total number of residential students living on campus has also increased to 2,442, up from 2,324 last year.

After much consideration, which included high demand from students, as well as low satisfaction rates with higher volumes of students cohabitating, the university felt this strategy was sound and have found ways to accommodate new students and make them feel comfortable.

“It is critical that students new to SVSU make connections and get engaged to improve their chances for academic success,” Portwine said. “Prioritizing housing for incoming students is one way we help support that philosophy.”

Update: This article was last updated on Tuesday, Aug. 28, at 11:50 a.m. to reflect more accurate, updated numbers.