Class of 2026 enrollment numbers indicate preliminary increase since last year

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According to the Vice President for Enrollment Management Mary Beth Petrie, as of Friday April 15, DePauw has admitted more than 3,500 students into the Class of 2026. Petrie said this number is the same as in previous years, but added that over 400 students have committed to DePauw, which is higher compared to the number around the same time last year. The new class also has the highest number of Indiana students in the past four years. 

“I think that things are, of course, changing in the world. And yet, our community has just been really amazing in its ability to make connections and build relationships with students, alumni, faculty, staff around campus,” Petrie said.

According to Petrie, the admissions team does not have the expected total number for the Class of 2026 because changes are anticipated in the weeks before the May 1 deadline for college decisions.

 

International Admissions

According to Loutfi Jirari, the assistant vice president for International Enrollment, as of April 14, 95 international students have committed to the Class of 2026, with 20 countries represented. This number is higher than that of the Class of 2025, with 87 students. Jirari expected the final number to be 100. 

According to Jirari, most international students will be from Viet Nam, with other students coming from Malaysia, Thailand, Europe, Latin America and Africa. The new class probably will have a few students from the Middle East, a new market for DePauw.

He added that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought some negatives to the international admissions process, but the virtual mediums have enabled him to connect with many more students from around the world.

“Obviously, there is nothing better than connecting one-on-one with a university representative, because then you can really have a good feel of the university—what the university represents. But I think adding the virtual option is valuable. And I don't think it's going to go away,” Jirari said.

He said that his goal is not only to bring international students to DePauw but also to make sure that they have the best experience throughout their DePauw journey, and after DePauw if they become alumni and ambassadors. 

Deedie Dowdle, vice president for communications and marketing at DePauw, said the website plays an important role in communicating with international students since the school does not have the budget to market abroad. 

“We did some focus groups with a lot of students and one of them happened to be international, who said that the website was really helpful to her in her decision to come, by seeing the campus life and the pictures,” Dowdle said.

 

Communication with admitted students

According to Petrie, as the National College Decision Day on May 1 draws near, the admissions team is focusing on meeting with students and their families, taking them on tours, connecting with faculty, and making phone calls. She said that because admitted students have to be on top of their college applications while trying to finish high school, the team seeks to have frequent contact with them and give them enough information. 

Petrie added that the Gold Visit days are being planned, which is the annual pre-orientation program for admitted students. The program will include both in-person and virtual options to meet students’ needs. 

Talking about in-person admissions events, Petrie said, “In a typical year before COVID, we might have had anywhere from 150 to 200 students plus their families at one event. Now, we've had at most 60, so we had to have more of them, which just means a lot more work and a lot more time, and ultimately, I think it's worth it.”

She said that students’ reactions to admissions events this year have been “very positive.” There are virtual events where students meet each other, have activities, and start building their community. 

“We are having them very specific, not just where we are presenting and doing a presentation or doing a panel, but doing something where students can talk to each other,” Petrie added. 

Dowdle said the communications plan with prospective students involves social media takeovers, filming professors, and sharing videos. The team also implemented billboards on interstate highways and improved keyword searches, increasing the school's visibility. 

“We feel really good about this plan…We're trying to cast the net and attract attention. And then [the admissions team] really personalizes that effort and shows them what's special about DePauw once we capture their attention,” Dowdle said.

She said that although the team is not able to see students’ reactions to the communications efforts, there are weekly reports and tracking that help in adjusting the plan and meeting students’ needs. 

“The president told us earlier this year… that one of the families that visited said that our marketing materials were so much better than what they were seeing from others. So that's anecdotal, right? We can't really measure that, but we'd love to hear that…But we really watch those digital inputs, those digital cues we're getting and measuring,” Dowdle added.