MU bumps up out-of-state recruiting efforts

Application season begins with increase in Illinois applicants.

As admissions officers work through the applications of high school seniors, MU will see whether its number of out-of-state students will continue to rise. According to data from the registrar, MU’s out-of-state population has grown from 18.5 to 22.8 percent since 2007, with Illinois students making up the majority of the increase.

Although Missouri remains the focus of MU’s recruiting efforts, MU also employs full-time recruiters in the Chicago and Dallas areas. MU also works heavily in central Illinois and Kansas, with secondary markets that include Minneapolis; Memphis, Tenn.; Tulsa, Okla.; and Omaha, Neb., Senior Associate Director of Admissions Chuck May said.

MU’s growing efforts in other states began as a reaction to trends in high school graduates.

“Several years ago, admissions was well aware that the population of high school graduates was going to decrease in 2011,” Chicago Regional Admissions Representative Jennifer Buxton said. “As a result, they have actively worked to find ways to alleviate a large decrease at enrollment at Mizzou. One of the ways we have looked at counteracting this issue is by increasing our presence in the surroundings states."

This expanded presence has allowed MU’s representatives to form personal relationships with prospective students.

“We have the flexibility to meet with students and families at their high schools, college fairs, a Starbucks for coffee and occasionally in their home for dinner,” Buxton said. “It allows us to create more of a private-school approach to recruitment in terms of attention and making Mizzou feel like a family.”

Recruitment Coordinator Dusty Barker said MU’s on-campus tactics have remained the same.

“What we’re doing now is what we’ve always done,” Barker said. “We’re extremely welcoming, and when people get to campus, they can see that we want them here. We take pride in our visit and making sure that they have a good time.”

May attributed the growing interest from other states to a combination of MU’s academics and atmosphere.

“I think our size and the breadth and depth of our degree programs is a huge draw for students,” May said. “We have a very diverse offering of degree programs, which is a very good selling point. Once students visit, our campus shows very well. The faculty they meet with during their campus visit are very interested in the students, and the students find them to be engaging.”

Barker cites MU’s location as another appeal to students looking for the right fit.

“Columbia has been ranked as one of the top college towns for several years now,” Barker said. “That sort of stuff means a lot to students. If they visit, they can see that Columbia is an awesome community for student culture.”

MU students spreading word-of-mouth might also be a contributor to the trend.

“You can’t beat people hearing about where their friends are going to school,” Barker said. “If you’re happy with what you’re doing, and you still have friends in high school, you’re going to tell them about it.”

Low out-of-state tuition and available scholarships at MU are also cited as a reason for the influx of students from other states, particularly students in Illinois.

“While out-of-state schools are traditionally a much higher cost than a resident’s in-state equivalent, this is not the case for us with Illinois students,” Buxton said. “While our out-of-state tuition is one of the highest in the Big 12 conference, we are a bargain compared to other Big 10 schools. Our out-of-state tuition is roughly the same as what students would pay to stay in state and attend the University of Illinois.”

In this year’s application process, applications from Illinois are up by about 500. It remains to be seen how long the trend will continue.

“Realistically, we all know it will plateau at some point, we’re just hoping that’s not going to happen for a while,” Buxton said.

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