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With record applicants, Miami enrollment objectives set sights high

By Alison Treen, Staff Writer

Miami experienced an unprecedented influx of 27,408 applications for the incoming class of 2019, according to Susan Schaurer, interim director of admission and enrollment communication.

This is an increase from the 25,301 applications received last fall, and from 18,485 applications from fall 2011 - a 48 percent rise in four years.

The top five feeder states for applications, in descending order, are Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and California.

The number of international applications has nearly doubled from 1,894 in fall 2011 to 4,548 for fall 2015. However, Schaurer said this increase demonstrates a national trend. The most international applications came from China (with over 3,000), India and Pakistan.

A Board of Trustees document from the Feb. 19 agenda indicates first-year objectives for admissions of fall 2015. The goals are set for an increase in non-Ohio resident enrollment to 42 percent, with non-resident domestic (out-of-state) projected to make up 34 percent and non-resident international to make up eight percent.

These objectives, however, are not the same as quotas, which are prohibited by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), a governing organization for college admissions.

"[The objectives] really just guide us in our practices and our processes throughout the recruitment cycle," Schaurer said. "We look at where we've been in previous years [and], with that, we shape what we feel like is a good composition of students."

While one of the university's objectives is to increase diversity, particular U.S. states do not outrank each other.

Schaurer stressed academic factors as the most important aspect of an application, and that Miami is need-blind in the admission review process. However, international students must provide documentation proving their ability to finance their education, Schaurer said.

"We certainly focus on Ohio students as part of our mission as an Ohio public institution," Schaurer said, but added that Miami does not selectively prefer certain U.S. states to others.

However, Schaurer identified the decrease in Ohio high school graduates as worrisome.

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"The declining number of [Ohio] high school graduates is certainly a point of concern for Ohio institutions, both public and private," she said. "In the wake of the reality of declining graduates, schools have increased their out-of-state recruitment as well."

In order to recruit students from all around the U.S., Miami employs numerous methods. This includes high school visits, college fairs and communication outreach efforts. The same is done internationally, with representatives stationed globally to meet with prospective students and families.

"We always try to get [prospective students] to visit campus," Schaurer said. "There's a high conversion rate. Once a student visits our campus, they see what the Miami experience is about."

Sophomore Alex Staron from Athens, Ohio, said that is exactly what convinced him to enroll at Miami.

"I went to a 'Make It Miami!' and fell in love," he said. "Since I grew up in a college town, I knew what I was looking for, but I wanted a school that was medium-sized, and I had to stay in-state."

Staron said he knows multiple people from out-of-state, most notably from Chicago.

Sophomore Alex McKeon, from Quincy, Massachusetts, agreed and said he knows a lot of students from Illinois, too.

As Miami consciously keeps its efforts focused on Ohio student enrollment, its recruitment efforts are also influenced by data from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), which provides information on high school graduation rates in different areas of the country. These rates are growing the fastest in the Southwest and Southeast.

Schaurer said that balancing in-state, out-of-state and international students is important for a variety of reasons. However, a key benefit is enhancing education both inside and outside the classroom.

"A diverse community of learners provides an enhanced educational experience. Anytime you are able to bring together individuals from different backgrounds - geographic, racial/ethnic, socioeconomic - the greater opportunity there is for students to learn from one another, to be exposed to different ways of thinking, and to discuss and debate different ideologies and belief systems," she said.