Sharing Northern

Emma Finkbeiner

A new student recruitment forum aimed at gaining current student feedback regarding new student outreach held Wednesday, April 6 garnered an attendance of only four students, including the ASNMU president. The forum was held by ASNMU in conjunction with NMU admission and the marketing office.

Abbie Beekman, a senior public relations and music double major who attended the event, said she was surprised by the low turnout but still saw the value in holding regular town hall and forum-style events.

“It’s so important for students to be involved in these types of things because we are the ones that care,” Beekman said. “If students have issues or concerns or care about campus, this is where they can get their thoughts and opinions heard.”

The purpose of the forum, according to ASNMU President Lindsey Lieck, was to engage students in a discussion about new student recruitment and how those students can assist in recruitment efforts. For six years in a row, NMU has faced enrollment decline. The winter 2016 semester saw close to a 900 student decline from the fall 2015 semester alone according to enrollment reports.

Though the enrollment has been steadily declining, the yield rates for admittance to enrollment for all new freshmen have improved and are consistently at the high end of national benchmarks. In fall 2014, the yield of admit-to-enrolled freshmen was 34 percent. In fall 2015, that rate rose to 37 percent. The national benchmark private to public range in fall 2014 was 26-36 percent.

Despite the low turnout, the backgrounds of students who attended were diverse and included traditional, non-traditional and veteran students. Lieck said the forum followed a trend of town hall-style meetings held by the university to encourage students to share ideas about recruitment. She said it was another opportunity to get students “at the table” and involved in more university decision-making.

“When a student is present at a committee meeting or task force meeting, they are able to offer the student perspective and help shape the future of the university,” Lieck said.

The university currently has a variety of recruitment efforts in place, according to Director of Admissions Gerri Daniels. Formally, students can participate in the student ambassador program, volunteer at recruitment events such as Wildcat Weekend or apply for open positions in the campus visit and student calling programs. Informally, Daniels encouraged students to share positive stories on social media with #shareNMU, greet campus visitors and talk with others about NMU.

“The life and vibrancy of the university is the people here—students, faculty and staff,” Daniels said. “The more we tell personal stories and the more people we tell them to, the better we serve prospective students who are looking for just the right fit for the next phase of their life, and the more we feed the life and vibrancy of the NMU community and experience.”

Assistant Vice President for University Marketing and Communications Derek Hall said the Share Northern program is a great way for current students to impact new student recruitment. The program is characterized by prize incentives for current students to get potential students to tour the campus and apply to NMU. Hall also said the marketing office has identified six student “brand ambassadors” to represent NMU on social media.

“Peer-to-peer is the most powerful marketing,” Hall said. “We trust the opinions of friends and others like us more than what a company or organization says about itself.”

Maggie Hartman, an ASNMU off-campus representative, was the non-traditional student in attendance at the event. She said she was disappointed in the low turnout, but thinks it was due to confusion regarding how students can help with university promotion.

“Many of them think promotion is not something done by the students, so why would they attend a forum regarding it?” Hartman said. “I disagree though. I think students are the best promotional items any university has.”

Hartman said she believes having “school spirit” is more than “corny rhetoric.” Students’ supportive attitude toward the university can help to create a general positive aura on campus, which visiting students and families can pick up on, Hartman said.

“This positive atmosphere causes more students to enroll at NMU,” Hartman said. “Increased enrollment leads to advances in departments and more opportunities for students and faculty in general.”

President Fritz Erickson has been holding town hall meetings this week, with the final one hosted Wednesday, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in 1100 Jamrich Hall.

A majority of the session with be in a question and answer format and will focus on topics such as enrollment, budget and other campus projects and initiatives. Lieck encouraged students to attend these and other meetings held throughout the year to support NMU’s recruitment and enrollment efforts.

“We all have a reason why we came to NMU and we all have a reason why we stay at NMU, and in order to maintain the university that we are proud of we need to engage with future students,” Lieck said. “A lot of students came to NMU because they knew someone that attended and then they came to visit. Current students can take on that role and pay it forward.”