This semester, Baker University welcomed its largest group of new students in its recorded history, with the number reaching 309. This number was made up of 257 first-time freshmen and 52 new transfer students.
New strategies have been put in place within admissions and marketing to encourage higher numbers of enrollment. Dean of Students Cassy Bailey said once potential students come on campus they “are usually sold.”
Therefore, in an effort to get students on campus, admissions and marketing have created more of a “partnership” to get the word out about Baker University.
“I think we have figured out a good formula in admissions to get people to notice Baker, and again once you come to Baker, I think you really enjoy it and I think that we are quality, quality education with a personal touch and not all universities can say that,” Bailey said.
Although the numbers have been increasing year by year, this year’s number created some potential issues within different departments on campus, including residence life.
Head of Residence Life Nick Goodman said suiting both the availability of the university with the desires of the students required innovative thinking.
“We’ve had to be creative about how we place students while still maintaining what they want of their residence hall experience, what they want in terms of roommates, etcetera, so we’re trying to be very careful about the actual number of beds that we have and the students’ needs and wants,” Goodman said.
With the large incoming class also comes the issue of retaining these students. Sophomore and new transfer student, Abbie Manhart, says that this is an issue that could be resolved with increased involvement.
“I know that for me, I wasn’t really involved at Kansas State University and I had a really hard time staying busy and making friends,” Manhart said. “So I would say that the more you can get out of your dorm room or apartment or wherever and just go find something to do, the more likely you are to meet some people that can give you a reason to stay at Baker.”
Yet another organization impacted by the large incoming class was Fraternity and Sorority Life. With the increased number of new students, the pledge classes for both fraternities and sororities were larger this year than in years past.
For Josh Doak, assistant director of student life, this steady interest in Fraternity and Sorority Life reflects a larger characteristic of Baker.
“New students don’t think that if they are going to come here it’s just like what it is at other campuses, so seeing the continually high numbers [for recruitment] with the national negative publicity is great to see that we are still able to show that we are different than other campuses, which we always say we are, but now we are putting it to fruition,” Doak said.
With the number of new students continuing to increase yearly, the university could face issues with too small of living spaces and academic settings in the future.
For now, Baker and its organizations are working to retain the large class and continue to raise awareness about the education offered here in hopes of continuing to increase the class sizes each year.