Tennessee Tech Focusing on Enrollment Growth

It's summer - the time of year when high school graduates' thoughts turn to fun, sun and ... where to attend college in the fall. And Tennessee Technological University is working on ways to attract more of them to Cookeville.

Beyond its regular recruiting efforts, Tennessee Tech has begun taking some important steps in recruiting future students with several new efforts this academic year.

A recent career expo on campus attracted high school students from across the Upper Cumberland, and organizers are already planning a similar event for the fall. A minority student recruitment weekend last fall attracted high school juniors and seniors from Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga for two days of events and programs. Alumni groups hosted receptions for prospective students in the metropolitan areas. And a campus-wide marketing committee was formed to develop a comprehensive marketing plan for the campus.

"It may be surprising to some to learn that Tennessee Tech has actually been the third fastest growing university in the Tennessee Board of Regents since 1991," said Tennessee Tech President Angelo Volpe. "But the competition for students is increasing. We realize that we need to become more competitive to boost that growth."

In the past 10 years, several other Tennessee Board of Regents institutions have seen sizable student number gains. However, most of that growth at other institutions occurred in the late 80's, statistics show. In the decade of the 90's, only two schools experienced higher enrollment gains than Tennessee Tech - MTSU and TSU - but TTU's enrollment gain topped over 5 percent.

A larger student body means the possibility of additional state resources for the university as well as growth and economic influx for the community. But university officials stress the need for managed growth.

"Our moderate growth has meant we've been able to accommodate our students' needs and wants," said Marvin Barker, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. "Class sizes and offerings aren't a problem here, and students are pleased with their education experiences."

The university has, in fact, ranked first among all Tennessee Board of Regents universities in student satisfaction for the past four years. It also boasts the highest persistence to graduation rate among the four-year TBR schools.

"Other schools facing more sizable enrollment gains have experienced some difficulty in managing that rapid growth. We recognize the need for growth," Barker said, "but we want to plan and manage it for the benefit of everyone involved. We'll be concentrating on more than just attracting students to our campus."

"Our emphasis has always been on quality education," Volpe said. "We recognize that competition for students is growing more fierce daily. We're looking forward to the growth of our student body, but making sure those students get the best education available will always remain the number one priority."
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