Perception and its effect on BVU enrollment

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Matt Meiners | Opinion Co-Editor

Buena Vista University (BVU) is arguably one of the best colleges in the region, giving a first class education to all students and an opportunity of a lifetime. When high school students decide to attend BVU, it’s the non-public school attractions that bring them in. For example small class size, numerous internship opportunities, close connection with faculty and staff, and many more reasons. So why is it then that this 2014-2015 freshmen class size has dropped so much?

I visited with Bridget Kurkowski, the Director of Admissions, and Zoey Reisdorf (Class of 2013), an admissions counselor, on the decrease in number of incoming freshmen. During the meeting there was a term that was used and agreed with quite frequently. That term being perception. Most students that come to Buena Vista have a connection to it through relatives that have also attended BVU. They perceive it to be a university with great opportunities because of what they know and have heard about it.

At the same time, we wonder what is the perception of students who choose to not come to BVU? Bridget confirmed that admissions has not done anything different, if any, they have tried harder on attracting student to BVU. BVU Admissions recognizes that they are competing with universities such as Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa.

In 2012, BVU brought in 259 freshmen; this year there are only 186 freshmen. That may not seem like a lot, but when you are dealing with a school like BVU it is quite noticeable that enrollment has dropped. So what has changed to cause this?

Bridget believes it is a plethora of circumstances that have added up. For example, it could just be a random bad year. Enrollment was down for both female students at BVU and students from Minnesota. It could be the new Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program or even the fact that there was a $1,000 increase in tuition. Let me add that after some of these circumstances, students went to comment about them on social media. I do believe students have the right to post on social media, but at the same time it could create a bad perception for BVU.

One aspect that I think might be causing a bad perception for BVU is the drinking policy. I personally have heard that some people choose not to come to BVU because of what they have heard verbally and over social media about the drinking policy: that it may tend to be stricter and therefore the social life here may not be what they are looking for. It creates a perception that is not attractive to them, therefore they choose to attend a different college.

My point in this article isn’t to blame it on the drinking policy, BVU admissions, or BVU students. The decrease in freshmen could be from how BVU is perceived in many ways. No matter what the reason may be, hopefully we can work together to make BVU a positive image to possible freshmen this next year. As students here, we know how great Buena Vista can be and the opportunities we get from attending this school.

Graphic by Justice Gage