By Marie Veillette
The final event of the first ever “Fulfilling Our Promise in Your Neighborhood” series came to culmination March 27 in the CMU Ballroom.
These events, created as part of the Fall 2014 Strategic Enrollment Action Plan (SEAP), took place to attract incoming freshman and transfer students from area high schools and community colleges.
Yvette Underdue Murph, vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, created SEAP with the goal of increasing enrollment both in the short and long run. The events were just a small part of her plan in action.
Underdue Murph wanted to showcase the best that the university has to offer. She sent out teams of MSUM faculty and staff to eight different cities that were identified to have had a high number of applicants in the past. Faculty and staff from offices such as housing and residential life, scholarship and financial aid, first year programs, diversity and inclusion, honors program, international student services, learning communities, disability services and the bookstore joined together to show prospective students why MSUM is a good choice for them.
Apart from the one hosted on campus, other events took place in hotels across both Minnesota and North Dakota and offered everything prospective students and their parents would need to know.
Each event began with a short talk from admissions counselors who explained why MSUM is a good choice. Citing everything from the tri-college program to the opportunities to research with faculty in a particular area of study, the counselors explained that the Fargo-Moorhead area is a great place to further an education. A representative from housing and residential life explained some of the advantages of living on campus. The option to join a learning community was also explained.
An informational booth was set up for each of the listed offices, and students and parents were encouraged to walk around. The booths offered many opportunities from purchasing dragon gear to signing up to be a part of a learning community.
After the admission counselors’ short presentation, the attendees and their parents were split into groups and sent to another room for an academic engagement session, or mock classroom experience, with an MSUM professor. Underdue Murph said this part of the event was especially successful. Many of the professors lectured to standing room only audiences.
There were different professors who attended different events, but two “regulars”, Margaret Sankey and Elizabeth Nawrot, were very popular with students and their parents. In total, about 15 different facultynominated by deans of the departments and then chosen based on their availability.
After the half hour mock classroom sessions were over, the groups of attendees were brought back for the final half of the event.
Part of each event involved the raffling of six $500 scholarships. Three were given to traditional freshman and three to transfer students.
Finally, to fully link MSUM with the community the group was addressing, alumni from the area were asked to give a short speech about their experience at MSUM and how it shaped them in finding a career.
Throughout the night, students could submit their application with no fee and receive an instant admittance decision.
Of the eight events, not counting the most recent hosted on campus, 173 total prospective students attended. There was also a nine percent increase in the total number of applicants. Fourteen percent also signed up for RoomSync, which allows students in the residential halls to find a roommate with similar interests via Facebook.
Prior to the events, gift baskets containing items from Moorhead were sent to principles and counselors in the eight cities that were visited. Baskets contained items such as coffee, wild rice and locally baked bread as well as information about MSUM and the Keeping Our Promise in Your Neighborhood event.
Underdue Murph stressed that she wanted to build lasting relationships with her constituents in the high schools and community colleges. “We don’t want to just parachute in. We want to be sustainable partners,” she said.
After the final event, which took place in the CMU, a staff member had the idea to have Scorch deliver the balloons used as decoration to the local children’s hospital. Underdue Murph said that while she wishes the idea would have come sooner so the same could have been done in all eight cities, this new idea will be implemented in next year’s round of events.
With visit days for new freshmen beginning this week, Underdue Murph hopes to implement some of the same ideas used in the Keeping Our Promise in Your Neighborhood events to get students excited to attend in the fall