FLORENCE – The spring Open House at Francis Marion University today established an attendance record, strongly suggesting a heightened awareness of the quality of academic programs and the institution’s unique environment for learning, according to James Schlimmer, director of admissions.
FMU also experienced a more than 40 percent increase in first-year application volume this year. First-year applications for 2009 so far total 2702, half of which have already been accepted to the University.
“We believe the attendance record at Open House and the increase in applications are a result of an aggressive marketing plan,” said Schlimmer who indicated that despite the rainy weather, 220 students attended Open House compared to 187 at a corresponding time a year ago. “It is apparent that prospective students are listening and hearing what we have to say about the university.”
Schlimmer, who has spent most of his career working in college admissions, brought with him admissions processes he believes will enhance the already successful enrollment management program at FMU. He has been director for a little more than one year. Schlimmer and his staff are responsible for recruiting and communicating with high school students during a time of unprecedented growth at the university.
He said he has had no problem finding students who define the typical FMU undergraduate — an academic achiever who is involved in the community and has proven leadership skills — through traditional recruitment methods like generic direct-mail materials, the Web site and college fairs.
“We redesigned the main undergraduate admissions brochure and developed other publications to mail to students,” Schlimmer said. “Our admissions counselors have also increased their visits to high school college fairs and guidance counselors, using marketing and recruitment mechanisms to get the FMU name out to other states and demographics.”
During the visits, admissions counselors give presentations on the university’s academic and extracurricular programs, the application and admissions process and financial aid procedure.
While nearly 3,800 of its more than 4,000 students are from South Carolina, the University enrolls more than 500 students from 37 states and 19 foreign countries, allowing the FMU community to experience the diversity of people from other cultures.
Schlimmer said he hopes these proven methods of enrollment management including a redesigned undergraduate admissions website and a consistently positive attitude among students will help to increase applications and enrollment next year.
FMU President Fred Carter said he is confident yet cautious about the rising trend in applications. “These data reflect a strong interest in Francis Marion from prospective students across the state, but it is still very early in the process,” he said.
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