Regan Smith and Lacey Clark
UMKC is trying new tactics to combat its declining enrollment numbers.
The university’s enrollment dropped 1.8% last semester compared to fall 2015, according to figures from UMKC’s data and records website. College enrollment is also down across the nation. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, national enrollment is down 1.3%.
The school must quickly adapt to this declining enrollment to achieve Chancellor Mauli Agrawal’s strategic plan of increasing enrollment to 24,000 students within the next 10 years. UMKC’s enrollment was 16,405 students as of last fall.
The university has made noticeable changes in its social media involvement in hopes of reaching potential students.
“We’ve increased the size of our social media team and did a lot of in-service education and research to figure out how to reach young people, current high school students or community college students,” said John Martellaro, director of Media Relations.
Martellaro said UMKC changed its website in 2018 to become more user-friendly for prospective students in the hopes of recruiting them.
“We decided that the primary place where young people are going go to look for information about a school is its own website,” said Martellaro. “We wanted to definitely turn it into a marketing and recruiting tool.”
Admissions involvement also has played a critical role in helping UMKC reach their enrollment goal.
“Our strategies are always shifting and growing, and we need to be prepared to implement new trends and best practices,” said Alice Arredondo, director of Admissions.
The Admissions department has implemented a web cast, which highlights different topics on Facebook that are considered to be of interest for incoming students.
“Tuesday’s are [called] Real Talk Tuesdays, and they are set-up like a talk show, so we have a current student ambassador who is the host and does the interviewing,” Arredondo said. “Every week it’s a different topic. Coming up, we will be interviewing the director of financial aid and asking questions new students would want to know about.”
UMKC also has tried to make the residential halls and campus feel more comfortable for students who already live on campus in order to keep existing students at UMKC until graduation.
“UMKC has really started to focus on creating a home for students,” said Sadie Billings, a resident advisor. “They want students to see the school as a home away from home.”
Billings said UMKC has pushed for more involvement with housing, from hosting events in residential halls to more actively engaging with new students.
“The staff has become more involved on campus as well so that students feel more welcomed knowing a familiar face on campus and in the halls,” Billings said.
The admissions team hopes these changes will lead to the increased enrollment UMKC needs for its strategic goals and future funding.
“Our goal is always to help students learn more about UMKC so that they can decide whether or not our amazing university is the right fit or not,” Arredondo said.