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The Antelope

The Antelope

Enrollment Plan to change student perspectives

antelope issue 9


Enrollment has been steadily declining at all Nebraska universities, including UNK. Enrollment numbers are measured in the fall semester on the sixth day of classes for all undergrads and grad students. In total, enrollment is down from years past. At UNK, a task force is working on strategic enrollment plans so numbers may rise again. 

An accompanying issue is that the number of students being recruited by UNK is declining. With this, fewer students are prepared for or looking to transition into college. Different paths are available, and bachelor degrees are not the education everyone needs or looks to receive. 

Still, there is an increasing number of non-traditional student paths in recent years. This change is critical to future recruitment. 

UNK’s enrollment team has a mission: to serve as many students as possible. For Kelly Bartling, assistant vice chancellor of communications and community relations, the last few years have displayed a significant change in who is coming to university. 

“It’s disappointing. [The change] affects budget, because there’s less tuition which affects revenue in scholarships, which means that there is less money to hire faculty,” Bartling said.

By taking an approach to recruiting non-traditional students, there are expected changes to take place in what UNK means to students. The enrollment team hopes to make UNK into a non-traditional school, not just for the 18-year-old, first-time freshmen .

“We will begin by increasing our ground recruiters, not just for high school, but for foreign exchange, online, grad students, and non-traditional. It’s an entire campus approach and it will take everyone’s help,” Bartling said.

UNK collaborates with UNL and UNO in order to take similar approaches to maximize efforts, but Nebraska universities do not necessarily work together. There is a need to invest in resources. However, there is little left in the budget for advertising, so the advertising team has to be smart. Strategic planning is vital in the new enrollment plan. 

In an effort to change UNK’s image, this year the new motto, “Be Blue, Be Gold, Be Bold,” was launched and there was a positive reaction to it. There was also the First Generation Students National Day, which celebrates students who are the first in their family to attend college. Efforts are being made to recognize every kind of student. UNK wants them to see this university as a place they can become successful in. Recently, Nebraska took away out of state tuition for students from Colorado attending UNK and this has also made a difference. 

Specifically for UNK students, Bartling said there are roles to play that will generate positive change. She asks that they become empowered to tell their stories of success and become ambassadors for UNK — telling their friends, peers and siblings of what UNK means to them can make a huge difference. Bartling said that if students tell those about to head into college what to expect and to be excited, possibilities can advance. 

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