Editorial: active recruiting vital

NW Staff and NW Staff

During his fall convocation last week, NMU President Les Wong put the spotlight on a looming problem that Northern, as well as campuses across the nation, will soon have to confront – a shrinking pool of college-aged students.

“There is a national, statewide and Upper Peninsula demographic cliff for the traditional college-aged student population,” he said. “In the U.P., we believe we start to experience that drop possibly as early as 2009, but certainly by 2010. We must offset that change by drastic changes in our recruiting – already under way – but also possibly to our academic offerings or how we offer courses to those new population groups.”

The North Wind agrees with Wong in that more active recruiting, especially outside the realm of traditional college-aged students, is necessary to keep enrollment rates high.

In the fall 2006 semester, Northern’s student body totaled 9,689 students, and 1,608 of those students were non-traditional, meaning an undergraduate over 25 years of age, according to NMU’s Institutonal Research Web site.

A student body consisting of students from all age groups would create more diversity on Northern’s campus, something NMU has been continuously striving for. Diversity, whether it’s dealing with age, ethnicity or religion, introduces new ideas, concepts and learning methods to any environment. With a higher volume of non-traditional students, the classroom will undoubtedly be a richer environment for learning.

Non-traditional students provide a completely different perspective than the average 18-24 year old college student can provide.

Dr. Susan Koch, new provost and vice president of academic affairs, said she believes non-traditional students are a vital part of the classroom.

“Having non-traditional students in the class brings life experience that generally someone older than 18 has,” she said. “They’ve been in the world for a while. Also, they are, in my experience as a professor, almost always highly motivated. They know what they want with their education and they pursue it.”

The North Wind believes that if the administration pulls together to make recruitment for non-traditional students successful, NMU will truly be a better institution because of it.