Sometimes, it feels great to be wrong. That’s the sentiment among Union College administrators upon seeing an increase in enrollment after planning budgets assuming another down year. With a headcount of 911 and a full-time equivalency of 843 (up from 881 headcount and 803.3 FTE last year), being wrong means a growing student body and new opportunities.
“This increase enabled us not only to present a balanced budget to the Board of Trustees, but to also set aside money to build the college’s long-term financial stability,” said John Wagner, president of the college. “The hard work and strategies put in place by the team led by Nadine Nelson, vice president for enrollment Services, are really bearing fruit.”
After several years of small freshmen classes, Union College welcomes a resurgence in the number of students. Consisting of 178 first-time freshmen, seven transfer freshmen (students who have some college credit, but not enough to be a sophomore), 30 returning students (students have been gone for at least a year) and 76 transfer students, the 292 new enrollees mean the college began the academic year with its largest student population since 2007.
The Enrollment Services team gives some credit for the larger freshman class to finding better ways to stay in communication with prospective students. “We’ve been doing a few things differently that I think really helped tip the balance,” said Becky Daniel, director of campus visits. “Aside from following up on every lead and doing everything in our power to give a great preview day experience, this year is the first that we’ve had online payment options, earlier confirmation deadlines and such a strong communication plan.”
Lelis “Yary” Jimenez, a sophomore communications major, was hired during the summer specifically to facilitate communication between academic divisions, enrollment and incoming students. “I emailed incoming students,” she explained. “First I called to ask if they had any questions, and then contact their advisors to set up meetings over the phone or visits. But I always kept in contact with them in case they needed anything.”
“Our goal is to make the path to registration as seamless as possible,” explained Daniel. “When someone finds an obstacle or can’t get information, they may get discouraged or feel as though God is shutting the door. By streamlining a lot of processes, we made our side more efficient and improved customer service for the student.”
The high enrollment numbers are regarded as the fruits of a campus-wide effort, involving students and employees alike sharing their love for Union. “Special thanks to all whose work is reflected in these numbers,” said Wagner. “We are so grateful for God’s continued blessings and for the privilege we have in being part of each of these students’ personal success stories.”