President will focus on more diverse enrollment
By Julia Duggan
President Kathryn Foster’s plan is divided into three pillars: Diversify, Differentiate, and Matter More.
Last week, Foster held a series of open discussions on her future vision for the College, presenting her ideas using eye-catching visuals and statistics.
In an effort to diversify the campus, Foster wants to recruit more underrepresented minorities, transfer students and graduate students. She plans to bring this to fruition by expanding need-based merit, promoting the college to students beginning in middle school and revising entry requirements.
As for differentiation, her goal is to make the College stand out from its competition. Foster mentioned expanding partnerships, engaging with more alumni and hiring professors who have strong connections in their fields that can help students land internships.
“We also know as another trend that I did not mention that we have more students that are coming to us undecided than we have in the past,” stated Foster. “So the implication of that for the College would be what does the first year look like?”
Foster’s goal is to expose students to subjects like the humanities in “a way they did not get to in high school” so that they can more confidently pursue a potential career path.
The “Matter More” portion of the plan focuses on the importance of raising the general standard of education and how she wants the College to take the lead. Several audience members were quick to mention the College’s impressive rankings — it remains the 4th best public college in the region according to US News.
Foster also emphasized the need for the College to become more engaged with Trenton and other local communities.
Throughout the development of her new plans, Foster plans to keep the college community informed so she can receive feedback and tailor her vision. She wants to first solidify the goals before setting an exact time frame.
The current plan, ‘Bolder, Better Brighter,’ outlines a mission to “offer an unparalleled education in a vibrant, collaborative, and inclusive community of learners who will make a distinct mark on the world,” according to the College’s website.
Foster elaborated, noting that the current plan is focused on academic rigor, talented students and high quality. She explained that the purpose of the forum is to present a vision for what the College should strive to be moving forward and that listening to audience feedback is crucial in developing this plan.
Prior to presenting her plan, Foster highlighted critical statistics for the audience to keep in mind, including that the national number of students applying to college is declining.
For the fall semester at the College, the incoming applications were down 6 percent from the previous year. Foster attributed the lower percentage to the recent questioning of the value of a college degree. In her new plan, she hopes to entice more applicants and potential students by highlighting the importance of quality education.
Foster is also examining the College’s competition for attracting students. She presented this idea using a visual of top and bottom feeders. The top feeders represent schools that are larger than the College with a greater sticker price, but can offer greater financial aid packages as well as a prestigious reputation.
The bottom feeders have a lower sticker price and are more geographically convenient. Due to recent national trends, Foster fears that there could be more competition from both top and bottom feeders.
Foster’s vision for the College is to strategize to evolve with the ever-changing demographics and trends. She hopes to increase the number of graduate or transfer students who are accepted while also maintaining the College’s selectivity, which can only be done by increasing applicant pools.
“With a declining market, the notion is that many schools will have to accept more students to yield them to come, given the competition,” said Foster. “We do think it is an important part of our brand, that we are the most selective in New Jersey, so say we are not actually going to increase the actual size of the incoming undergraduate population.”