Eighty-five percent of freshmen from Illinois, university to target East Coast students
The university is focusing on recruiting students who live outside of Illinois to move closer to achieving its goal of becoming a nationally ranked university.
Fifteen percent of this year’s freshmen come from out of state, and the university hopes to increase the number by 5 percent next fall, Vice President for Student Affairs Alan Galsky said.
“You cannot be a national private university with 85 percent of students from your state,” Galsky said. “Northwestern [University] doesn’t have 85 percent of students from Illinois.”
However, in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s as well as in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, out-of-state enrollment reached as high as 30 to 35 percent, Galsky said.
He said the people in charge of Enrollment Management made a “conscious decision” to recruit within Illinois in the mid ‘90s, which is why out-of-state enrollment has dropped.
“It’s easy to recruit students from Illinois,” Galsky said. “It’s less expensive. There’s a greater chance they would come to Bradley if they were from Illinois.”
He also said there is a greater chance students will stay at Bradley after their freshmen years if they are from within the state.
He said Enrollment Management was successful in bringing in a full freshmen class using this strategy even though most students were from Illinois.
However, Galsky said the university faces some issues by focusing on recruiting solely in the state.
“It’s not a good idea to have all your eggs in one basket because the basket’s getting smaller,” he said.
He said the number of high school graduates in Illinois is decreasing. Also, Illinois students are known for attending out-of-state universities, and many universities located outside of Illinois recruit within the state.
“When there’s enough to go around for everybody it’s not that important, but when there’s not enough to go around for everybody it leads to some problems,” Galsky said.
He said the university will primarily focus on recruiting students from the East Coast.
“The year I started here, you could go out in the parking lot and every third car would be from New Jersey and New York,” he said.
Galsky said the parents of students who attend private high schools in the East Coast “are committed to getting their sons and daughters a very good college education so we feel like we have a very good chance at recruiting at these high schools.”
Associate Provost for Enrollment Management Nickie Roberson said some East Coast colleges and universities used to be aggressive about recruiting in-state students.
“Now we think there is an opportunity to attract students who want something that is different … a different kind of experience,” she said. “A lot of students are looking for diversity whether it is coming into the Midwest area … or those people who want to see a change in seasons.”
She said Bradley’s new academic programs, including the new Pre-Law Center, may attract more students from out of state.
“We talk about diversity. We do a good job of ethnic diversity and we’d like to do a good job of geographic diversity,” Roberson said.
Galsky said the university’s long-term goal is to have half of the student body come from out of state.
“It’s going to take three to four years to make that happen,” he said. “It won’t happen over night. What we’d like to see this year is some initial results that say it’s beginning to work.”
To recruit more students who live outside of Illinois, the university has created two positions.
A new assistant director of Admissions for Recruiting will help target new markets. Another person will support out-of-state recruitment and help the other director when needed.