Admissions is going the extra mile to recruit next year’s freshmen class

Tim Reardon is swamped right now, trying to fill next year’s freshman class with rooks and civilians. Together with the rest of the staff, he’s “biting his nails” waiting to see if the university makes its numbers.

The admissions building is a busy place in spring as Norwich tries to meet its enrollment goals for next year.

The admissions building is a busy place in spring as Norwich tries to meet its enrollment goals for next year.

This is Reardon’s seventh year at Norwich after his academic studies. He spent his years as a cadet and now he is working to bring people to study at Norwich.

“I went to Norwich for both my bachelors and masters degree. I graduated as the XO,” said Tim Reardon, Norwich University’s senior associate director of admissions as he browsed through files recently.

As the summer approaches, the admission office at NU continues to recruit and contact future students systematically, according to the senior associate director, trying to make its goals. May 1 is the rough date by which Norwich usually firms up who has committed for next year.

The admissions process is a continuous and complex one that requires extensive planning and recruitment.

“It is like a funnel. We want 765 students to walk on to campus this fall semester. This means we need 906 students to pay their deposits,” Reardon said, explaining that not all those who make a deposit will show up.

He added that in order to achieve 906 students, there needs to be more than 2,500 high school students accepted, 3,500 applications, and more than 30,000 students who are interested in Norwich.

“Statistically, we reach the interested student number but it’s hard to measure how interested they are,” he said.

Generally, students can be interested in their younger ages but change their mind before they have to apply.

“For the past six years, four out of those six years, we have exceeded our goal,” Reardon said, adding that his team will continue to work with prospective incoming students over the next month and a half.

As the senior associate director, Reardon schedules all of travels to high schools, college fairs and events in local hotels. He also oversees the student call center which calls out to propective students.

As part of its admissions efforts, Norwich sends postcards and emails to high school sophomores who have classified themselves as interested in Norwich.

“Students do a survey through My College Options which is a national research council for college and university admissions,” he said. The survey provides choices for majors, number of students, and regional preferences. Then Norwich approach students to see if they are interested.

“We send postcards and emails so Norwich kind of sits behind their minds. When they are juniors, we put them in our regular communication flow where they get a number of pieces from us.”

Reardon explained that high school juniors receive applications as well as phone calls. “Once the student’s applied to Norwich, we receive their transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, and the application,” he said.

Norwich, according to Reardon, takes an honest approach when it comes to decisions.

“Norwich accepts you based on who you are and what you bring to the table. Some admission offices across the United States will accept students based on their families’ ability to pay,” he said. In many cases, students with lower grades will get accepted because of their financial abilities and vice versa. However, that is not true for Norwich.

“We look at your grades, your zactivities, your test scores, and then we see what your [parents] can help with. We will accept you and the student can make the decision,” Reardon said.

After students submit their applications, the admission office decides to accept, decline, or put them on wait lists. “If the students’ test scores are not quite at the level but if they plan on taking the test again, we wait for the scores to come in and then make a decision.”

The admissions office also emphasizes reaching out to the public. “We go to college fairs such as the Boston National College Fair and local events.”

The extensive recruiting efforts started during the Harmon administration in the 1950s. According to Robert Darius Guinn, a faculty member of NU from 1925-1960, the NU director of Admissions used to visit almost 200 preparatory schools annually. Guinn noted at the time that that alumni formed ambassador groups to visit preparatory schools to recruit students.

In recent years, Norwich’s student body has grown larger than planned. “The Corps population exceeded the 2019 plan. The trustees allowed the number to grow,” said Dave Magida, head of facility operations at Norwich University.

Although some institutions focus on the financial capabilities of students, Reardon said Norwich takes a different tack. “First and foremost is academics. We want students who are well-rounded and have been involved in leadership activities. However, as much as they want to be in the military – which is great – they are here for a degree. Military is also looking for that scholar-athlete-leader so we have to look at the academics first,” Reardon said.

Reardon strongly urges prospective students visit the campus. “We are a military college campus and a civilian program so civilian students have to understand and appreciate the military just as much as the military has to understand and appreciate the civilian lifestyle,” he said.

In order to understand the campus settings, Reardon suggested that people should visit Norwich. “Just as much I want students to come to the campus and fall in love with it, I want students to realize if it is for them or not.”

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