Engaging Minds. A Message from the President

U.S. Lags in College Degrees

The United States now ranks 12th among the 36 developed countries in comparing college completion rates, according to a recent New York Times article, “Once a Leader, U.S. Lags in College Degrees,” which reports on the College Board’s current findings. Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board stated, “The growing education deficit is no less a threat to our nation’s long-term well-being than the current fiscal crisis.”

Having just successfully recruited the largest incoming class in our history, Southwestern is still on track, but that track has a steep incline. According to the Times: “While almost 70 percent of high school graduates in the United States enroll in college within two years of graduating, only about 57 percent of students who enroll in a bachelor’s degree program graduate within six years, and fewer than 25 percent of students who begin at a community college graduate with an associate’s degree within three years.”

What This Means for Southwestern’s Recruitment Efforts

Shaping Our Future: The Strategic Plan for Southwestern University 2010–2020 calls to increase enrollment to 1500 students over the next five years. However, the college recruitment climate is becoming increasingly more competitive due to a number of factors:

  1. a decreasing number of high school graduates across the country,
  2. population shifts in the Northeast causing colleges to look to the Texas market, and
  3. the ever-increasing size of the applicant pool needed to yield a Southwestern student body of the desired quality and size.

Vice President for Enrollment Services, Tom Oliver ’89, says in order to matriculate a first-year class of 380 students while maintaining Southwestern’s academic selectivity, the Office of Admission, through direct marketing, must initially introduce Southwestern to 150,000 prospective students, many of whom have no knowledge of Southwestern. (The University also recruits more than 50 transfer students annually.) Throughout the recruitment process, the Enrollment Services staff shapes the incoming class with consideration given to academic ability, gender, geography, life experience and ethnic representation, while monitoring the amount of financial assistance available to students.

Our Graduates—Our Hope

The needs of our world are escalating. The good news is that 85 percent of our graduating seniors complete their degrees in four years and go on to make a difference in their communities—they are leaders and change agents through education, science, business, social justice, civic engagement and more. Sending Southwestern graduates into the world should give all of us confidence and hope for the future.

You Can Help

You represent the Southwestern Experience and there is no greater endorsement than yours! Through your personal and professional networks, you can recommend prospective students.

Jake B. Schrum ’68