U of W Joins Most Wanted List

Friday, January 20, 2012

University of Windsor is Becoming "First Choice U"

By Beatrice Fantoni, The Windsor Star

Once known as "Last Chance U," the University of Windsor is becoming "first choice U" for a growing number of Ontario high school students.

This year, six per cent more applicants put the University of Windsor as their No. 1 choice when applying to postsecondary schools for fall 2012 admission, beating the provincial average.

Other universities in the province averaged an increase of just two per cent.

"We didn't step into this," said assistant provost of admissions and recruiting Dave Bussiere. "It's a result of our actions."

Smart marketing and new facilities are the key, said Bussiere, who is also a marketing professor and who took on the assistant provost role expressly to boost the university's applications and enrolment.

Applications to the University of Windsor are up eight per cent overall, Bussiere said, and the faculty of engineering received a whopping 30 per cent more applications from Ontario high school students for 2012 admission.

"It's an awesome, awesome number," Bussiere said.

As well, the Odette School of Business and the faculty of nursing each received about 10 per cent more applications.

University of Windsor recruiters visited 475 high schools in Ontario last year (up from 300 in 2010) and made sure plenty more Windsor students were on hand to answer questions at the annual universities fair in Toronto.

Also, convincing more students to visit the campus helped boost application numbers, Bussiere said.

"People who come to our campus love our campus," he said, referring to its walkable size, new buildings and the friendly atmosphere.

Travis Durocher, a Kennedy high school student who plans on attending the university on a football scholarship, said he decided to accept Windsor's early offer of admission because of the quality of its programs and its athletics department.

"It's on the rise," Durocher said of the school's athletics rankings. "You go where you can play."

Jordan Wand, a 17-year-old student from Regina, accepted an offer at the university not just for its athletic program but also because of its academic offerings.

The track athlete, who wants to study social work and history, said he visited the campus in November and was impressed with both the school and the city.

"After I went there, I kind of knew," he said.

He said he was considering the University of Victoria and Guelph, which were offering him similar scholarships, but settled on Windsor.

Bussiere said he expects the jump in applications to result in 200 more students being added to the current student population of about 16,000.

More students also means more tuition dollars and more government funding, Bussiere said. It also means a little more cash flowing to Windsor and the region as students use local goods and services.

Offers to Ontario high school applicants will go out in February.

The trick now is to convince those students to accept their offers and enrol.

The extra "something" will come in the form of - among other things - receptions hosted by alumni as well as a personal acceptance offer phone call from a student and faculty member.

"It's phenomenal," said Andre Capaldi, president of the University of Windsor Students' Alliance, in reaction to the numbers.

"We care about our students here," Capaldi said, adding that the university administration, and especially its president, Alan Wildeman, have made the "undergraduate experience" a top priority. "It's great to see high school students taking note of that," he said.

bfantoni@windsorstar.com or Twitter.com/bfantoni

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