Summer session is under way but already officials are excited about the fall at the University of Toledo, which is seeing a significant increase in the number of students applying for admission.
Most public universities in Ohio are receiving more undergraduate applications these days, but UT, with a 15 percent overall increase, is among the leaders of the pack.
“I think there's some wonderful things that are happening at the University of Toledo,” said Paula Compton, UT's associate vice president for enrollment services. “I think a lot of students are coming here and really liking what they're seeing.”
So far, UT has received about 10,300 applications for the fall semester, up from 8,954 at this time last year.
Applications received from students coming directly from high school are up 18 percent.
A spike in the number of applications does not necessarily translate into enrollment growth, but college officials are hopeful.
For budgeting purposes, they are counting on 4 percent more students enrolling this fall than last year.
That would continue a recent trend at UT. Fall enrollment in 2001 was up for the first time in years, and demand for on-campus housing has been growing. A new residence hall with 600 beds will open this fall, and planning to build another has begun.
Martino Harmon, director of high school relations, credits increased outreach efforts to high school students and teachers and more targeted advertising. Having a revamped Web site and a successful football team that received exposure on national television didn't hurt either.
The issue of recruiting and retaining students has been a top priority among UT administrators for the last few years.
During a time of cutbacks in some areas due to reductions in state funding, officials propose spending $200,000 more next year on enrollment services.
Applications at most of the state's other public schools are up by about 2 to 5 percent, according to Gary Swegan, director of admissions at Bowling Green State University and incoming president of the Council of Admission Officers of the State-Assisted Universities in Ohio.
BGSU's tallies are up by 1.8 percent, he said.
Even relatively steep tuition increases at most public universities have failed to send the numbers south.
Eric Nagel of Monroe plans to attend UT in the fall as a freshman and was attracted by its engineering program and scholarship. The fact that tuition will be 14.4 percent higher this fall than last for in-state residents wasn't an issue because it went up everywhere else as well, he said. UT allows residents of Monroe County to pay in-state tuition.
Mary Jo Elber, a counselor at Lake Catholic High School in Mentor, Ohio, brought four of her students to UT yesterday to check out the campus.
They were attracted by its academic programs in such areas as engineering and pharmacy.
“There's something for each of them,” she said.
Stiffened academic criteria at Ohio State - which has seen the average ACT score of entering freshmen rise from 22.8 to 25.2 over the last six years - could be a smaller factor in pushing more applicants to other public schools.
“Clearly, in an area like admissions, when Ohio State makes a significant change, it's not surprising that it would have a ripple effect on other colleges in the state,” said Elizabeth Conlisk, a spokeswoman for OSU, where applications for the fall quarter are down just slightly.
Mr. Swegan believes a cultural shift is most responsible for the increases at many schools.
“The publics have really made a concerted effort to try to catch up to the sophistication that the privates have employed for many years in terms of marketing, in terms of targeting,” he said.