Megan Weiland and Vic Brotzman

As the application deadline for the class of 2012 rapidly approaches, Laurie Koehler, director of Miami University’s Office of Admission, is focusing on three main words: excellence, access and diversity.

“We’ve been working hard to ensure that we are recruiting for excellence, getting information out about our Honors and Scholars Program and providing access in more areas,” Koehler said.

In her report to the board of trustees, Academic Affairs Trustee Lolita McDavid said several changes to recruitment and applications had been made and the Office of Admission would be “stepping up” its efforts for transparency and efficiency. She added that Miami is moving toward making its applications available only online.

To do this, Koehler said the office has increased its recruitment efforts through several partnerships across the country and worked to incorporate parents in the decision-making process.

“We’ve tried to ensure that our recruitment practices are more inclusive to families,” she said. “We created the Ohio tour, which is a series of programs across the state with evening programs so families can be involved. If we only do high school visits we find that parents are often left out.”

Additionally, the Office of Admission has teamed up with the Associate Vice President for University Communications Dionn Tron and the Office of Institutional Research to summarize and highlight Miami’s standing in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).

“Miami does exceptionally well (in the survey) if you were to compare us to other institutions,” Koehler said. “But it’s much easier for students to pick up a magazine and read a number rather than sifting through the NSSE data, which is not as cut and dry, so we’re looking to see how we can best highlight Miami’s assets.”

Koehler added that the application process is taking more time this year because Miami has added a supplement.

“We made the change to encourage more serious applicants and to use this as a vehicle to express Miami’s values,” she said.

In addition to the Common Application, the university has added a supplemental, 250-word essay in response to a Miami-specific question.

“The application uses a quote from Hodge and asks students to respond,” Koehler said. “It gives us a chance to get to know them better as students.”

For the first time, Miami has partnered with different organizations in an effort to increase campus diversity.

According to Koehler, Ventures Scholars provides Miami’s information to first generation or minority students who meet certain GPA requirements and have demonstrated an interest in math or science. Washington Metropolitan Scholars encourages African American students in the D.C. area to apply to higher-level colleges. Koehler said Miami is one of only six partner institutions with the organization.

“Something we’re especially excited about this year is the amount of energy we’ve focused on transfer students,” Koehler said. “We’re not allowed to actively recruit four-year college students from other institutions and we only attempted to recruit transfer or two-year students after they requested information from us. Now we’re actively recruiting two-year students.”

Koehler said the university has partnered with Phi Theta Kappa, a two-year college honorary, to grow Miami’s transfer program.

“Our office is participating in joint travel with other universities to recruit students across the country,” she said. “We do five cities in five days with a program in the evening for students and parents and a program in the morning for guidance counselors.”

Binghamton University, the University of Colorado in Boulder, Clemson University and the University of Maryland are the current schools Miami will be traveling with, according to Koehler. They traveled through the Midwest during fall semester and will be traveling the West Coast and Northeast this year.

“I think these longer term ventures with bear fruit in years to come,” Koehler said. “We’re continuing to promote things like the Miami Access Initiative to send the message that Miami cares.”

Senior chemistry major Joe Smith; who came to Miami from Goshen, Ohio; said Miami was the only school he applied to because it offered the best scholarships.

“Ultimately, the decision lies on the student,” he said. “The parents can say what they want, but it’s the student’s call.”

As far as making the university applications available only online, Smith said it’s a good idea and makes Miami seem as though it is able to keep up with the times.