Enrollment drops, marketing efforts increase

Mackenzie Mathews

Kentucky has seen a decline in the number of students graduating high school.

The descent was marked by a drop in the number of high school students that graduated between 2003 and 2010. The U.S. Department of Education anticipated that the growth of Kentucky high school graduates will continue to decline.

Sharon Hunter, coordinator of College Readiness, has been working to create a marketing plan that will maintain a steady enrollment for WKU. She said the decline has been focused around traditional high school-aged students.

“With this slowing of the growth in the traditional-age student population in Kentucky, WKU is refocusing efforts on recruitment toward states with a higher growth trend in traditional-age students,” Hunter said.

Though officials have yet to determine how these numbers will affect WKU, marketing has already been searching for original approaches that will attract the most academically ready students in each freshman class. 

“Our overarching goal is to maintain a stable enrollment in this population,” Hunter said.

Changes have already been made to scholarship requirements, which opens more avenues for students seeking financial aid.

Hunter said another goal is to increase out-of-state students’ knowledge of WKU. This is to be accomplished by the launch of an updated recruiting and marketing campaign.

While reasons behind declining graduations rates are unknown, the trend has become evident in local high schools.

Jesse Meredith, a senior at Edmonson County High School, wants to go to college in order to pursue a career as a radiologist, and he said he is looking at WKU as one of his college choices. Though he has maintained these plans of going to college since he was a child, Meredith knows several people who have already graduated or dropped out.

“I think it’s mostly due to teen pregnancy and trouble at home, which there’s not much we can do about that,” he said.