Spring semester enrollment at East Carolina University has seen a significant increase from last year as 26,716 students are currently enrolled, which is over 100 more students than in spring 2020.
Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director of Undergraduate Admissions Stephanie Whaley said the university has enrolled 79 new freshmen this spring, which is 33 more freshmen than last year and the most for the spring semester in ECU history. She said 631 new transfer students have enrolled as well, 25 more than last year. Whaley said despite obstacles COVID-19 has presented, she is excited that spring enrollment numbers have seen success.
She said as an institution, it’s wonderful to see students show interest in the university and that she has hope for the upcoming fall semester.Whaley said as of Feb. 16 admissions has seen 21,563 freshman applications for next fall as well, 477 more than the previous year, which makes the most freshman applications in ECU history.
“We’ve taken a more personalized approach at recruiting new students during COVID(-19) by offering them a variety of options so that they can choose the option that’s most comfortable for them,” Whaley said. “I think that personalized approach, saying we can give you a virtual information session, or an on-campus tour, or a virtual appointment, I think students have found that appealing.”
Emily Schultz, ECU admissions and regional counselor, said her role is spread throughout the region, so communication through email and phone calls with students has been a challenge. Schultz said admissions has had to adapt and learn with students, and though it’s been difficult, there’s a lot of flexibility to be found.
Schultz said an advantage ECU has is its availability of in-person campus tours which cooperate with COVID-19 regulations. She said as her and other counselors reach out and recruit students, she often uses Zoom or Cisco WebEx to communicate with local high schools, texts her students at their convenience and holds one-on-one virtual counseling appointments.
“Having students come in and still be really excited about starting college and registering for classes, I think was a statement to how well our entire office did this fall in recruiting students and keeping them engaged,” Schultz said.
Senior Transfer Admissions Counselor Sydney Luyster said she would normally go to community colleges directly, but COVID-19 has changed how she communicates with students. Due to this, she said she has turned to virtual recruitment, which has brought a lot of success, to her surprise. She said she finds that students prefer to text her or attend a one-one-one virtual session rather than traditional recruitment interactions.
ECU offered a free application week from Oct. 19 to Oct. 30 for transfer applicants who applied for the spring semester, Luyster said, which she believes attributed to the increase in applications. She said students seemed to take advantage of their free time and get ahead on their college applications.
Luyster said ECU will even offer modified in-person admitted student events for freshmen fall 2021, such as Pirates Aboard, where students will have the opportunity to visit campus and talk with departments from the university like the Office of Financial Aid and Campus Living.
“I think I hear this a lot of times, but we’re just so responsive, and our customer service is just top notch. I feel like so many people in our office are just so good and on top of things, and I think our office does a great job at expressing (how great ECU is),” Luyster said.
Luyster said many students were motivated to get back to ECU and get a jump start on their degree. She said she was shocked by the number of students who applied for the spring semester, but believes admissions has done a wonderful job with the students and provided them with a lot of different recruitment options and information.