NU makes final push to enroll class of 2013

Lauren Mogannam

With less than two weeks until Northwestern’s May 1 acceptance deadline, the Office of Undergraduate Admission, undergraduate schools and student group leaders are doing everything in their power to give prospective students the extra push to become members of NU’s class of 2013.

Due to the current economic climate, NU administrators and students have worked together to adjust prospective student programming in an effort to make NU a more attractive option, said Michael Mills, associate provost for university enrollment.

“There is a new wrinkle on Wildcat Days,” he said. “This year (for) the first part of Wildcat Days, the schools themselves are doing all the programming.”

The extra time for school-specific presentations allowed the School of Education and Social Policy to expand its existing programming, said Susan Olson, assistant dean of students affairs for SESP. While the usual tour of Annenberg Hall remains on the itinerary, there are now more students involved in the panel discussion and a lunch has been added, giving current students and prospective NU families a chance to interact, she said.

“A longer period of time gives admitted students a realistic picture of what life is like for SESP students,” Olson said.

Changes to Medill’s programming also include more involvement from the journalism community and a lunch, said Director of Student Life Keri Disch, who participates in Wildcat Days. In addition, Dean John Lavine has talked to accepted students.

Heather Devane, an incoming Medill freshman, said attending Wildcat Days helped her realize NU was the school for her.

“There was a really good academic open house where I got to see the work of seniors,” she said. “It was the most influential aspect. It let me see how Northwestern was different than the other schools I was looking at.”

Unlike SESP and Medill, changes to McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Wildcat Days programming were not as drastic, said Steve Carr, associate dean for undergraduate engineering. The dean and associate dean now speak to the students and a box lunch is provided to prospective students, he said.

A representative for the School of Communication could not be reached for comment.

Along with changing the makeup of Wildcat Days, the admissions office also worked with some student groups to foster a relationship with incoming students by writing personalized letters, Mills said.

Students in For Members Only wrote personalized letters to accepted black students welcoming them to the black NU community, said FMO Coordinator Marrion Johnson.

FMO also moved its annual spring concert up a month to give prospective students a chance to attend, the Communication sophomore said. Solange Knowles and Big Sean performed April 19 for current and accepted students.

“The concert was a big thing because we wanted to showcase the black experience to prospies,” he said. “We thought it would be a good way for them to enjoy themselves and have fun with an artist that they knew.”

After Wildcat Days and the spring concert, Johnson said he is hopeful many black students will matriculate.

“I feel many who came to Wildcat Days will be attending,” he said. “Most of them knew that they wanted to come but needed that extra push to make up their minds.”

Despite efforts across campus, matriculation rates will still be lower this year than last year due to the economic situations of many families, Mills said.

“Last year we yielded about 32 percent of admitted students,” he said. “This year we are guessing that we yield about 31 percent.”

More students are applying for financial aid, but aid offers will remain need-based, Mills said.

“The students this year are needier, as was expected,” he said. “Every day there are more aid applications being submitted.”

Fauve McNight, an incoming McCormick freshman, said he gave up a full ride to Northeastern University in order to attend NU. Financial aid packages were a big factor in his decision, he said.

“My financial aid package was much better than I expected,” McNight said. “It still left a big family contribution, but Northwestern seemed like an amazing school. Northwestern is just really in a league of its own.”

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