In the midst of suffering through the worst economy in decades, admissions administrators were holding their breaths for most of last year.
But they were able to let out a sigh of relief in May when it was realized Bradley would not only achieve, but exceed the goal set for the class of 2013.
Even at the end of April it wasn’t known whether the goal of 1,080 would be achieved. In fact, right after Spring Break, tuition deposits were 100 fewer than the goal.
Universities were fighting a perfect storm last year as the economy went into freefall and the number of high school graduates dropped for the first time in many years. Some colleges weren’t as lucky as Bradley, either.
“We’re certainly doing better than most,” said Alan Galsky, vice president for student affairs. “A lot of private institutions suffered last year because people just couldn’t afford them.”
Galsky cited changes to the admissions process and Bradley’s relative low cost, among others, as factors in the record number of freshmen enrolled.
“We added visit days later in the spring,” he said. “We also started turning over applications faster, which was important.”
The addition of the Markin Family Student Recreation Center and the sports communication major were two other huge pluses for potential students, Galsky said.
Making the goal of 1,080 was especially crucial this year as only 1,032 students enrolled last year.
While the difference of 48 kids may not seem too large, that cost meant the university was potentially missing out on millions and millions of tuition dollars.
“We’re obviously a very tuition-dependant school,” Galsky said. “We were in a pretty tight situation and really couldn’t go another year without making the goal. We can definitely breathe a little easier.”
While the university still has a deficit from missing last year’s goal, a decent chunk was taken out of it by exceeding this year’s goal by 28 students.
“Luckily, because we were in a good financial situation, we were able to avoid draconian cutbacks … like cutting services … and faculty,” Galsky said. “By the end of last year, it was pretty tight, but by following strategic budget responses we were able to cut only from non-educational areas.”
The university cut back on travel for employees, including conferences some administrators would have normally attended.
Even though the class of 2013 is the largest in Bradley’s history, officials are already planning for ways to recruit enough students for next year’s freshman class. Similar policies as those adopted last year will be used, along with a few others.
“We’ve added four more spring visit days and we’re already meeting with key community colleges,” Galsky said. “We’ve hired a person who will recruit transfer and west coast students.”
The economy isn’t as bad as it was, so that brightens the skies a little, but there are other problems that haven’t been faced before.
“Because of banks tightening their guidelines, more people were turned down for loans this year,” he said. “So students and their parents who would have been approved two years ago weren’t getting loan money.”
That means that some students weren’t able to come back to school, which Galsky said hurts the university.