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OREM, Utah (AP) -- Despite recruiting at every Utah high school, Utah Valley State College officials haven't managed to lure as many freshmen as they'd like.
The number of new freshmen at UVSC each fall has dropped for three consecutive years and four of the past five, a trend that disturbs new President Bill Sederburg and Cory Duckworth, vice president of planning and student services.
Concerned that the market might become more competitive for high school seniors over the next five years, Sederburg and Duckworth have convinced UVSC's board of trustees to approve $100,000 for a national online recruiting service.
"We think we've lost out on occasion to Utah State University and other schools of late because the message is lost that we have good programs here," Duckworth said.
The slippage was masked as overall enrollment continued to rise with the infusion of transfer students and adults returning to college.
Sederburg and Duckworth, who worked at Michigan's Ferris State University before coming to UVSC, said 57 percent of high school students who sought information about Ferris State through the recruiting system eventually enrolled. Last year, freshman enrollment at the school jumped by 700.
Duckworth is rushing to take bids on the project to position the school in time for the winter recruiting season that begins in earnest in January.
Recruitment has been an institutional afterthought; UVSC employs just one full-time recruiter because overall enrollment has increased for 17 straight years.
Sederburg and Duckworth also see the system as a way to lure higher-quality students. As an open-enrollment school, UVSC must accept all applicants.
"This recruitment marketing system is sophisticated enough to target high-end students and bring them in so we can raise the entire educational and academic dialogue on campus," Duckworth said.
The Internet-based recruiter would glean names from the ACT that many potential UVSC students take and that will be required by the college in 2005. UVSC would send an e-mail to prospective students inviting them to engage in the interactive system that could then track their interests and answer their questions.
Tuition payments from 40 additional students from Utah would pay for the system, said Linda Makin, UVSC's budget director.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)