Freshman enrollment sees slight downtick in recent years

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Photo by Maryam Tunio

Photo by Maryam Tunio/ maryam.tunio@marquette.edu

Marquette saw a drop in the number of college applications over the past year, however, employees in the Office of Admissions do not perceive the decrease as a concern.

Although application numbers will likely be significantly lower than previous years, Jean Burke, dean of the Office of Admissions, said fewer applicants will bring in more quality students to the university.

“The old search firm we used used a ‘fast application’ which was easy to complete,” Burke said. “This did lead to more applications, but many of them were either uncompleted or ‘soft’ applications.”

The Office of Admissions works with a new search firm that Burke said made the application process more in-depth. She said while there will be fewer applications to review, the applications are from prospective students who are specifically interested in Marquette.

Burke said 64 percent of applications were fully completed last year. This includes test scores, essays, and other parts of the application process being completely filled out. She said 92 percent of applicants completed the process this year.

There are other factors that affect the number of applications year to year. Burke said some schools become the popular choice that everyone wants to attend, which means that university might see a spike in applications.

Carlos Garces, the senior assistant dean in the Office of Admissions, said sports teams success can have a big impact on the number of applications and general interest in a university.

“When Dwayne Wade took Marquette to the Final Four, we saw an immediate increase in applications the next year,” Garces said. “For example, we were at a college fair on the East Coast where we typically only meet with 50 students. That next year, we probably met with over 200 because families recognized the name.”

Garces said this initial contact is valuable because it allows the university to build a relationship with prospective students and hopefully get them to visit.

Garces said how the school reaches out to prospective students, the quality of programs and materials offered, the visitation program and the perception of the school all factor into the number of applications each year.

Burke said the perceived quality of programs has a major impact on a student’s decision. She said this does not always mean that a particular school is the best, but if it is perceived that way, it will usually receive more applications.

Garces said price is definitely a factor when prospective students decide on whether to apply to Marquette.

“We are aware of it and very sensitive to it,” Garces said. “We make sure to talk to families about the tuition costs and the scholarships that are available.”

Burke said the university doesn’t have a goal on how many applications it wants a year. Instead, admissions sets an enrollment goal. Last year, the enrollment goal was set at 2000 students. Since that goal was not reached, the university lowered the goal to 1935 incoming freshmen for the class of 2020.

Burke also said even though Marquette has a Dec. 1 application deadline, students are allowed to apply throughout the year. According to the Marquette admissions page, students are admitted on a space available basis after Dec. 1.