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Freshman enrollment up at ECU but overall enrollment is down slightly

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Loads of students’ personal belongings were carted by parents, siblings and volunteers into the newly renovated Greene Residence Hall on Aug. 14. East Carolina University welcomed the third largest freshman class in the school's history this fall but its overall enrollment is slightly down.

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By Ginger Livingston
Staff Writer

Thursday, September 12, 2019

East Carolina University welcomed the third largest freshman class in the school's history this fall but its overall enrollment is slightly down.

The university enrolled 4,366 freshmen and 1,280 new master’s program students, according to news release. That is 29 percent of the 15,143 freshmen accepted by the university, said Stephanie Whaley, assistant vice chancellor and director of admissions.

Coming on the heels of the university's largest-ever graduating class — slightly more than 5,400 undergraduate, graduate and medical degrees were awarded in May — ECU’s overall enrollment this fall was 28,651, down only 67 students from last year, according to a university news release.

Officials knew keeping enrollment numbers steady would be a challenge since so many students graduated in May.

“I believe we have regained significant momentum this past year and that is reflected in the improved numbers of new freshmen, transfers and graduate students,” Provost Ron Mitchelson said. “It has taken a lot of excellent Pirate teamwork to achieve this positive outcome, and I am very appreciative for those collaborative efforts. We have already turned our attention to the next cycle of student recruitment and are looking forward to more good news next year.”

Details on how ECU's freshmen enrollment compares with other UNC System campuses was unavailable on Wednesday afternoon, Whaley said.

ECU largest freshmen enrollment occurred when 4,538 students enrolled for the fall 2008 semester. The second highest was fall 2013 when 4,495 freshmen enrolled.

Whaley said more emphasis and new strategies were used in recruitment efforts, which she believes is a primary reason so many first-time students chose ECU.

“The entire campus community worked together to show prospective students what makes ECU so special," Whaley said. "Due to faculty, staff and current students all pitching in with the recruitment process, we were able to make major strides in growing new additions in Pirate Nation. I believe the collaborative foundation this past year will continue to flourish during this next recruitment cycle."

Some of the recruitment efforts included the use of a new theme, "Setting Sail: Your Journey to College," in more traditional and online advertising. The admissions team also focused on solidifying students’ commitment to ECU by hosting events and sending additional communication about following through with the enrollment process. One new piece of mail accepted students received was a No Quarter flag to give them a taste of Pirate life.

ECU also expanded the number of regional recruiters placed around the state. Five regionally based team members provided a more personalized experience for potential students in areas like Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Raleigh.

Recruiting of students for next fall already is underway, and the first big event of this academic year, Fall Open House, is scheduled for Sept. 28. Open House is an opportunity for potential ECU students and their families to tour campus and learn more about college life. Megan Wade, associate director for marketing strategy, said this year’s registration numbers are outpacing 2018’s numbers. The event brings thousands of people to campus.

In recent years, ECU has introduced other initiatives to make ECU more accessible to students. RaiseMe is a platform that high school and community college students can use to earn micro-scholarships for their academic achievements and extracurricular activities. ECU also entered into co-admission agreements with several North Carolina community colleges — a collaborative effort that makes it easier for community college students to transfer to ECU.

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