MISSOULA — With fewer students graduating high school, universities across the region are competing for a limited number of prospective freshmen.
With that in mind, the University of Montana is ramping up its fundraising efforts, looking to boost recruitment and sweeten the deal for high school seniors who, beginning next year, will choose a college for the 2013-14 academic year.
Beth Hammock, vice president of strategic communications and marketing at the UM Foundation, said the university must work harder to compete with other regional schools to recruit a limited number of graduating high school seniors.
“A lot of universities offer attractive packages to high achieving students to recruit them,” Hammock said. “Many other universities in our region have more full-ride or large scholarships they offer. We’re missing out on having them here by not offering a competitive package.”
Hammock said UM is looking to compete more closely in scholarships with Montana State University, the University of Colorado, Gonzaga University and Western Washington, among other schools.
The universities offer similar atmospheres, Hammock said, and many high school students are left to choose between the schools when committing for college.
“Public universities have gotten into the arena of marketing,” she said. “As far as demographics go, there aren’t as many students graduating high school as there has been in the past.”
UM President Royce Engstrom said the Missoula-based university offers a rigorous academic program and a vibrant learning atmosphere.
The campus has been ranked among the prettiest in the country while Missoula has been named one of the best small college towns in the nation on several occasions.
To help boost recruitment to the school, the UM Foundation is asking all university supporters to get involved in winning the hearts and minds of future high school graduates and helping the university offer scholarship packages to recruit them.
“Student recruitment is a highly competitive business and universities across the country keep raising the stakes,” Engstrom said. “We are intent on leveling the playing field for recruiting today’s talented high-school seniors.”
UM offers about 1,500 academic scholarships. The UM Foundation would like to raise $500,000 for its Class of ’13 Fund.
Achieving that number would allow the university to offer $1,000 scholarships to 500 additional students.
“The goal is to ensure every student who wants to attend UM this fall has financial support,” Engstrom said.
Hammock said contributions can be made online at SupportUM.org/classof2013 or by sending a check to the University of Montana Foundation, P.O. Box 7159, Missoula, MT 59807. For questions, call 406-243-2593.