ECU welcomed one of the largest freshman classes in university history

After graduating a record-breaking number of students during the 2018-2019 academic year, East Carolina University welcomed the third largest freshman class in the university’s history this fall.

“I believe we have regained significant momentum this past year and that is reflected in the improved numbers of new freshmen, transfers and graduate students,” said Provost Ron Mitchelson. “It has taken a lot of excellent pirate teamwork to achieve this positive outcome, and I am very appreciative for those collaborative efforts. We have already turned our attention to the next cycle of student recruitment and are looking forward to more good news next year.”

Kirsten Tevepaugh is one of several new Pirates who announced through social media they would attend ECU using the No Quarter flag they received in the mail and #PirateNationBound. (Facebook photo courtesy of Kirsten Tevepaugh)

Increased numbers of freshmen (4,366) and new master’s students (1,280) contributed to ECU’s overall enrollment this fall of 28,651 down only 67 students from last year. With so many students graduating last year, officials knew keeping enrollment numbers steady would be a challenge.

Stephanie Whaley, assistant vice chancellor and director of admissions, said more emphasis and new strategies were placed on recruitment efforts, which she believes is a primary reason so many first-time students chose ECU.

“The entire campus community worked together to show prospective students what makes ECU so special. Due to faculty, staff and current students all pitching in with the recruitment process, we were able to make major strides in growing new additions in Pirate Nation. I believe the collaborative foundation this past year will continue to flourish during this next recruitment cycle,” said Whaley.

Some of the recruitment efforts included the use of a new theme, Setting Sail: Your Journey to College, in more traditional and online advertising. The admissions team also placed an increased focus on solidifying students’ commitment to ECU by hosting events and sending additional communication about following through with the enrollment process. One new piece of mail accepted students received was a No Quarter flag to give them a taste of Pirate life.

ECU also expanded the number of regional recruiters placed around the state. Five regionally based team members provide a more personalized experience for potential students in areas like Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Raleigh.

Recruiting of students for next fall is well underway, and the first big event of this academic year, Fall Open House, is set for Sept. 28. Open House is an opportunity for potential ECU students and their families to tour campus and learn more about college life. Megan Wade, associate director for marketing strategy, said this year’s registration numbers are outpacing 2018’s numbers. The event brings thousands of people to campus.

In recent years, ECU has introduced other initiatives to make ECU more accessible to students. RaiseMe is a platform that high school and community college students can use to earn micro-scholarships for their academic achievements and extracurricular activities. ECU also entered into co-admission agreements with several North Carolina community colleges — a collaborative effort that makes it easier for community college students to transfer to ECU.

*At UNC system institutions, the 10th day of class is traditionally “census day,” when a snapshot is captured of the school’s enrollment data. Enrollment figures are considered preliminary until reviewed and approved by the UNC System.

Freshmen gather for the official class of 2023 photo after convocation on Aug. 18. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)