Enrollment up again at ISU

The Memorial Union Food Court is very crowded during the noon lunch hour this Wednesday. Iowa State plans to release the enrollments numbers on Wednesday night. Photo: Will Johnson/Iowa State Daily

Will Johnson

The Memorial Union Food Court is very crowded during the noon lunch hour this Wednesday. Iowa State plans to release the enrollments numbers on Wednesday night. Photo: Will Johnson/Iowa State Daily

James Heggen

The numbers are in, and Iowa State has one of its largest student bodies on record.

“The numbers were excellent,” said Kathy Jones, assistant vice president of records and registration.

According to the office of the registrar, enrollment for the fall of 2008 is 26,856, up 696 students from last year.

“It’s been a great year,” said Marc Harding, director of enrollment services.

This year’s class has seen an increase in the number of out-of-state students, and that’s no accident. Harding said the university has been targeting out-of-state students on purpose.

The Iowa Department of Education has projected that by the year 2013, there will be about 3,000 fewer high school graduates in the state.

Therefore, in order to keep enrollment steady at Iowa State, the University has had to look outside the state. Regional recruiters have been utilized in recruitment efforts for the university, Harding said.

Iowa State has targeted certain states because of the high number of alumni present in those states.

The university gets most of its out-of-state students from Minnesota and Illinois.

Once you include Nebraska, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Missouri and Kansas, it’s about 92 to 93 percent of Iowa State’s out-of-state population.

“It takes a lot to sustain a recruitment effort in a state that we have very little name recognition or alumni or brand recognition, even,” Harding said.

Outside these states, Harding said, the university has to be careful which states it targets.

“When you build an out-of-state recruitment plan, you want to leverage as much as you can,” he said.

Besides the states that border Iowa, the most alumni live in California, Texas and Colorado.

“Which is why, when we looked at expanding our non-resident recruitment effort, we went there,” he said.

Harding said because Texas and Colorado are Big 12 states, Iowa State has the advantage of name recognition.

Jones attributed the success for this year to the people across the campus working for the university.

“We engage the help of the entire university,” he said.

All of the undergraduate colleges have their own plans for recruitment and work with the admissions office. The marketing department also plays a role.

Harding added that it’s more than just getting students to come to Iowa State — it’s about retaining them as well. That’s why Iowa State doesn’t use “gimmicks,” but targets students who it thinks will be a good fit for Iowa State.

“So we are looking at places where we have a good chance of finding students who are a good fit for Iowa State University,” he said.

That means a student interested in nursing would probably not be targeted as much as a student interested in engineering, Harding said.

Although Iowa State has been able to bring in a large number of students in the past few years — this year bringing in the second largest freshman class on record — Harding said it would be very tough to sustain that kind of size next year. He said two factors are working against Iowa State: a decreasing pool of graduating high school seniors in the Midwest and an increase in tuition.

“It’s not impossible,” he said.

However, he said he thought it would be able to bring in a class in the “4,000-plus range.”

“We’re going to try to bring in as many as we can,” he said.

Harding said that, regardless of the recruitment efforts and campaigns, what enrollment comes down to is the quality of the university and its programs.

“In the end … they have to believe it’s a great place,” he said.

Regents University

Enrollment Numbers

Iowa State



University of Iowa



University of Northern Iowa



— information compiled from universities’ registrar office