Whittier : College Begins Aggressive Recruiting Campaign to Stem Enrollment Decline

Whittier College officials have begun an aggressive recruiting strategy to reverse an 11% decline in freshman enrollment to 271. The small liberal arts college, with a thin endowment, depended on student tuition for $15 million of its $22-million operating budget last year.

The freshman decline stems from the shrinking number of eligible high school seniors graduating nationwide, said Kathryn Forte, the college's vice president for enrollment. Forte said the college will do more recruiting rather than lower its admission standards.

Officials have participated in 34 recruiting events in 16 cities across the country since spring of last year. The college also has spend $13 million in campus renovations, in part to impress visiting students.

The effort may be working, Forte said, because applications for next fall are up.

Across town, Rio Hondo College faces a different challenge: finding enough teachers and classrooms for its booming student body. August figures from the community college show total enrollment up more than 8%. Late registrations will push this figure higher. Rio Hondo's location just outside Whittier, low fees and wide-open admissions policy have made the school a popular place for disadvantaged, working and minority students to begin or resume their higher education, officials said.

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