SXU Welcomes Largest Freshman Class in Its History
Saint Xavier University (SXU) has achieved an enrollment milestone in welcoming its largest freshman class in the institution's history, despite challenges posed by COVID-19. 2020 follows 2018 and 2019, the previous two greatest enrollment years, culminating in the three largest classes on record.
"Saint Xavier University is excited to enroll our largest freshman class in our history. New students and families continue to be attracted by our quality academic programs, generous financial assistance, high-impact learning experiences and a dedicated community committed to service excellence. Faculty, staff and University leadership have worked long and hard to prepare for the fall semester, and we're ready to support our students and families on their educational journeys," said Brian Hotzfield, assistant vice president for Enrollment Management, Student Development and Student Success.
The Admission team worked to amplify recruitment efforts over the past year, enhancing communication to prospective students and families with multiple methods of outreach, including print and electronic communication as well as social media, text messages and phone calls, in addition to visits to high schools, campus visit days and program-specific spotlights. The successful year was the culmination of hard work and collaboration across all areas of the University.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit at a point when many families were visiting colleges to make their final decisions. The Admission team quickly worked to identify ways to convey the college visit experience in a virtual setting through Zoom, recorded presentations and video tours. The orientation team worked to convert the traditional daylong orientation into a series of online modules, academic advisors worked with students virtually and the Office of Financial Aid counseled students and families on awards and loan options online and over the phone.
Other teams across campus also worked hard on retention and recruitment strategies. This year, the Marketing and Web teams integrated student life into social media more than ever before. With features on student events, student takeovers, and weekly stories that cover what’s happening on campus, student engagement is at an all-time high. New features like Instagram stickers (including GIFs of the University’s beloved mascot, Champ), accolade infographics and interactive posts that truly create a sense of community online.
"Since 2016, we've applied new student-centric marketing strategies, adding more leading-edge digital marketing and engaging online tools into our marketing mix to share the benefits of Saint Xavier with students and influencers. We introduced our award-winning 'Calling All Doers' campaign at the end of 2018, integrating messaging and talking points across the University to support our brand promise of educating students for competence, character and career success," said Deborah Rapacz, associate vice president of Marketing and Communications.
Hotzfield knows that students look for balance when searching for a university, focusing on criteria like program availability, student experience, class size, diversity, affordability, professional relationships, opportunities for growth, and mission and values. Saint Xavier continues to maintain academic quality and affordability, ranking on U.S. News & World Report's 2021 list of Best Colleges for being a "Best Value" school, top performer in "Social Mobility" and "Most Diverse" school, among other accolades.
"Students want history and mission that resonate with them and want to be able to contribute to something larger than themselves," said Hotzfield. "Saint Xavier is consistently ranked among the Best Value regional universities in the Midwest because of our combination of a transformational educational experience at an affordable cost."
Perhaps the largest contributor to both recruitment and retention success is SXU’s pricing and financial aid strategy. According to College Navigator, Saint Xavier is the most affordable Catholic college in Illinois. "College is one of the most important investments in one's lifetime, and we invest in the success of our students through generous financial assistance, which all incoming freshmen receive," said Hotzfield.
Incoming freshmen can look forward to relevant programs that prepare students for the workplace, carefully created by faculty and deans. Students will also receive ample opportunity to network and work closely with faculty on meaningful projects, as well as an expansion of academic and co-curricular support as part of the two largest federal grants in the history of Saint Xavier. The grants, which come from the U.S. Department of Education's Title V and the National Science Foundation, provide for additional support in advising, coaching, supplemental instruction, integrated college-to-career advising and more.
"The history, Mercy heritage, mission and values of the University create a space where students can learn and grow, develop the best in themselves and contribute to bettering their communities," said President Laurie M. Joyner, Ph.D. "Our core mission is to deliver a high-quality, exceptional experience that is affordable and focused on student success at SXU and beyond."