Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

DU attracts more students from outside of Colorado this year

Nearly 60 percent of incoming first-year students at the University of Denver hail from outside the boundaries of Colorado. University administrators say it is a trend that recognizes DU’s growing national and international reputation.

“In order to become a truly great university, one of the best in America, we need to be able to attract and retain the very best students from across the country and around the world,” says Chancellor Robert Coombe. 

The percentage of U.S. out-of-state freshmen increased from 50.2 percent in 2006 to 53.3 percent in this fall’s cohort. The percentage of first-year international students took a dramatic upturn as well, from 3.2 percent of the 2006 entering class to 5 percent this year. Admissions officials report new students coming from 646 high schools in 47 states and 22 countries.

DU caps its traditional undergraduate enrollment to retain its small class size and 10 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio. This fall’s enrollment nudged down just two students to 1,140, compared with 1,142 first-year students enrolled for fall 2006. The academic profile of this year’s class is nearly identical to last year’s cohort, with 95 percent in the top half of their graduating class and an average GPA of 3.59.

While nearly every other region of the country showed gains, the percentage of Colorado students enrolling this fall dropped from 46.6 percent to 41.7 percent. The largest enrollment increases came from the West and Southwest, with the greatest state gains coming from Washington and Oregon, which doubled the number of students they sent to DU.

Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Tom Willoughby says targeted marketing, increased outreach and DU’s expanding national presence delivered this year’s bumper crop of national and international students. A more geographically diverse student body supports the DU goal of inclusive excellence, says Willoughby. DU’s goal is to build out-of-state enrollment to the 67 percent level within five years.

Two years ago, the admission office began marketing to high school sophomores and juniors, specifically targeting areas like the Northwest, where students share Coloradans’ love for the outdoors. Now those students are graduating, says Willoughby, and choosing DU. 

Willoughby and crew have also focused efforts on bringing high school counselors to campus to show them the DU experience  — 100 of them visited during the past two years. Their DU experience has included everything from meeting students and faculty to wine tasting at the Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management building to yoga at the Ritchie Center.  

But one of DU’s most important recruiting tools is its reputation, says Willoughby. It cements U.S. students’ decision to come to the University and draws more international students each year.

“As we reach more students, our reputation grows,” says Willoughby. “Students from nearly every state and many countries are coming here because of our reputation for exceptional faculty, facilities and sports teams.”

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