Student enrollment at East Carolina University is expected to increase this year for the fall 2019 semester after the university experienced a lower enrollment rate last year.
Heidi Puckett, interim director of Undergraduate Admissions at ECU, said the total number of student enrollments cannot be determined until census day, which is 10 days after the start of classes. She said the university, however, has seen an increase in applications, deposits and registration for the fall semester.
Puckett said the goal for ECU enrollment is around 4,400 first-time freshmen for the fall semester. She said ECU experienced a decline last year, with 4,175 students enrolled for the fall semester. The projected number of students this year is expected to meet ECU’s goal and be between 4,350 and 4,400.
ECU would like to continue to see increased numbers in the future, according to Puckett. She said the university has learned many valuable lessons throughout the past year which have contributed to ECU’s success and the faculty hope to carry these lessons into the future.
“Outreach and engagement, those kinds of things are so important,” Puckett said. “We’re making sure that we are able to provide all of the information about opportunities that students have at ECU, while they’re going through the application process so they can make a good decision.”
Puckett said the university was “very generous” this past year by letting faculty and staff offer additional outreach opportunities to students unlike they have in the past. She said she hopes ECU will continue to implement these strategies because they have been successful.
Puckett said the outreach programs allow counselors from ECU to make visits to high schools across the state and surrounding states to provide information to potential students to educate them about the university.
“It was really important for me to let students know about tradition and about Pirate pride, so that they’re engaged in the institution before they get here and I think we did a really good job with that,” Puckett said.
Puckett said a new engagement strategy the school implemented this year was mailing out a “no quarter” flag to each admitted student. She said 15,000 prospective students received this flag along with information on ECU’s history, which she believes was a successful tool for engaging potential students.
Puckett said students who apply to ECU will receive a well-rounded education, while also being able to participate in research opportunities, work directly with faculty and hold roles in campus organizations, some opportunities students sometimes think they won’t be able to do at a larger institution.
“I think people get nervous,” Puckett said. “They see that ECU is large and that makes them nervous, so we have to let them know that it feels small.”
Margaret Turner, director of admissions and recruitment for the ECU Honors College, said the number of admissions to the honors college for the fall is strong. She said the college will have 220 students admitted in the fall semester, an increase from last year.
Turner said she encourages students who are eligible to apply to the Honors College at ECU. She said, although it’s competitive, the college bases its admissions decisions on trying to find well-rounded students who are curious and excited to learn at a higher level.
The honors college offers a variety of opportunities for incoming students to take advantage of, according to Turner. She said every honors college student will receive some level of scholarship support and have the ability to live with other students who have the same desire to do well academically.
“We offer a plethora of high impact practices such as research, internships and study abroad opportunities,” Turner said.
PJ Connelly, mayor of Greenville, said increased enrollment at ECU is beneficial to Greenville, its businesses and the university.
“It’s more people in our community, it’s more people who will be living in apartments and houses, it’s more people who will be spending money at our local restaurants,” Connelly said. “We’re excited and we want to help the university any way we can and be able to attract more people to our community because it makes Greenville a better place.”