In October, Albion College announced that an alumni gift would allow for the renovation of the Bonta Admissions Center. The process will begin on Dec. 2 with an initial meeting with architects. After that meeting, admissions will have a realistic finish date for renovations.
Admissions is expanding their building, the Bonta Admissions Center, to include Student Financial Services, a conference room and interview rooms. The hope is for these renovations to allow Admissions to provide a better experience for future students. The new building is not the only change that admissions is currently experiencing. According to Vice President for Enrollment Steve Klein, three new positions have been created to help with recruiting students.
The first position is a regional recruiter in Chicago, specifically the suburbs. More than 100 colleges nationwide had recruiters working in that area, and Albion hasn’t had any recruiters there until now. The new recruiter, Sarah Goldman, lives in Chicago and went to a small liberal arts college in the Midwest, so she understands the environment at Albion College. This position was approved summer of 2015, but Goldman did not start until this past summer.
The second position is an equestrian recruiting coordinator. Randi Heathman took on that position Sept. 1 of this year. The new renovations to the Held Equestrian Center make it one of the largest in the country. The Center is now able to hold regional and multi-state competitions. With these changes, admissions hopes Heathman will be able to help recruit both equestrian students and students who may be interested in equestrian.
The third position is an international recruiter, whose goal is to help increase the amount of students that attend Albion College from other countries.
“It’s official, although I haven’t announced it to the campus yet. But we’ve hired a new international recruiter, “ said Klein. “She’ll start Dec. 1. She’s worked in international recruiting for about eight years.”
In addition to the new staff, admissions has been working to improve recruitment through an update to existing systems. Currently, athletics and admissions have separate systems to keep track of individuals being recruited. Because of the separation, admissions might not have the same information that athletics does, and so prospective students may only learn about Albion from one perspective, athletics or admissions. This could potentially be problematic, especially when it comes to students who were looking at athletics in college but decided not to pursue it. In order to combat this, admissions and the athletic department are working on a bridge between the two systems so less students slip through the cracks.
This year, changes to financial aid could allow both prospective and current students to plan ahead. The main change is in financial aid deals with FAFSA. The Director of Student Financial Services Ann Whitmer refers to this change as Early FAFSA.
“It’s a national opportunity,” said Whitmer. “Last September, so September 2015, President Obama signed legislation to move the FAFSA submission date. Previously it was Jan. 1, and it moved to Oct. 1 this year.”
Early FAFSA allows students to fill out their application Oct. 1 using the information from the previous year. So instead of waiting until January to fill FAFSA out for 2016, students may fill it out in October using the information from 2015. Because Student Financial Services is getting this information earlier, they can send out the financial aid award packages earlier to incoming students, which will help them plan ahead.
“Here at Albion, we actually did start sending out award notifications for entering students starting the first week of November,” said Whitmer. “A lot of schools are not doing so yet, so we’re kind of on the leading edge of that. We feel it’s helpful for families as they go through the admissions process.“
Admissions hopes these strategies will help them continue to bring in more and more students. The college has a five-year plan to increase the amount of students attending Albion to 1,650.
“One thousand six hundred fifty is the number where we’re at capacity,” said Klein. “So if you look at the residence halls, you look at the amount of faculty we have, you look at teaching space, we have the capacity for about 1,650 without making major changes in staffing and facilities.”
Albion has currently completed two out of the five cycles in that plan, and admissions is on track to reach their goal. After the second cycle, Albion had around 1,420 students. Admissions is looking to add to that number next fall. Their hope is to take in 450 first-year students and 40 transfers.
“It’s more than last year, but it’s not more than two years ago,” said Klein. “Two years ago we had 455 first-years and, I think, 35 transfers. Last year we had 402 first-year [students] and 35 transfers.”
In addition to the number of students, Klein is hoping to also continue to increase the diversity of Albion’s campus. The college gained some diversity with the class of 2020 because 25 percent of them are either international or students of color.
“We want to continue to bring in more diverse classes,” said Klein. “I think it’s clear that the last two classes have been more diverse in terms of students of color and in terms of students from out-of-state. I look for that to continue to better reflect what the country looks like. We’re committed to that.”
Admissions is trying something different this year when sending out their acceptance letters. Instead of just receiving a regular envelope, accepted students will get an envelope made from a folded flag. Little adhesive dots keep the flag together, and an adhesive strip along the flap helps keep the papers from falling out. The hope is for this unusual envelope to create some excitement and give Albion College some visibility it might not otherwise have.
Admissions is making an effort to make sure Albion’s campus better reflects the composition of the country. They are making an active effort to create changes on campus and in the campus community. All of these new changes and strategies will hopefully help Admissions towards that goal.
Photos by Katherine Buzan