By Julia Mericle
With enrollments down at St. Bonaventure University, the admissions department has recently had to come up with creative ways to entice students to enroll.
On April 3, admitted students who earned a provost, friars or presidential scholarship from Bonaventure received free Samsung Galaxy 7 tablets if they attended the Scholars Dinner hosted by the admissions department. The tablets were also awarded to any prospective students who confirmed their plans to attend Bonaventure on or before April 4.
Emily Sinsabaugh, vice president for university relations, said the gifts were to recognize the student’s academic achievement and celebrate their choice to attend the university.
According to Sinsabaugh, the university chose tablets as the gift because they are valuable tools for college students.
An unrestricted gift from an alumni couple funded the program. Sinsabaugh explained that the tablets are sold at retail for about $170, but the university was able to get them for a better price. She did not have the exact costs or expenses at hand.
Junior political science major Steven Kibbe thinks the gift provides a good incentive for students to commit. Yet, he foresees some students attending the Scholars Dinner to receive the gift even if they do not have the intention to come to Bonaventure.
Sinsabaugh explained that when prospective students visit the campus, they are much more likely to chose to attend the university.
“Since we recruit students from a very broad geographic region, incentivizing them to make the visit the campus a priority is a proven and important strategy,” Sinsabaugh said.
Business professor Laurie Branch agrees that while it is difficult for Bonaventure to draw a lot of students in for campus visits, it is a critical element in raising enrollment.
“One of the advantages of St. Bonaventure is its beautiful rural setting,” Branch said, “but this can also be a disadvantage because it makes it harder to get to than a school near an urban center.”
This program was implemented in 2012, where the same type of students received Kindles. According to Sinsabaugh, when the gift was given as an incentive, 100 more students attended the spring admitted students events, than in 2013 when there was no gift incentive.
Branch said that giving away the tablets is more effective than additional scholarship money. However, some students still feel the budget used to buy the tablets feels more like a bribe to entice students to come visit and should be used in a different manner.
“That money could be much better spent somewhere else,” junior sociology major Nicholas Taylor said, “For example, improving the buildings around campus so that they are more like the new Swan Center or putting it toward the CAB (Campus Activities Board) budget. I’m sure that would attract students to come here too.”
“Maybe if they had a bigger budget, we could keep a toaster for more than two days,” junior psychology major Elizabeth Dickinson added.
Student Government Association president Cody Clifford has been a part of the university discussion that decided to enact this program.
He said the tablets are an innovative idea and allow prospective students and their families to know that Bonaventure is encouraging them to save money by having the availability for them to purchase electronic versions of their books.
“If something along the lines of this were offered when I was a prospective student, it would have totally convinced me to make my deposit,” Clifford said.