GVSU sees rise in Windy City students

GVL / Courtesy - Metro Connection
Chicago, Illinois

GVL / Courtesy – Metro Connection Chicago, Illinois

Drew Howard

Out of all the students who attend Grand Valley State University from an out-of-state location, a majority of them tend to be from the Illinois area.

This year, 918 students from Illinois are attending GVSU. This equates to around 61 percent of all students who come from somewhere other than the Mitten State.

Since 2012, GVSU has seen the number of students from Illinois rise from 2.6 percent to 3.6 percent in relation to the whole student body.

Lynn Blue, vice president for enrollment at GVSU, said both distance and cost factor into why so many out-of-state students tend to come from Illinois.

“GVSU is attractive to families and students who live in and around Chicago and the suburbs to the west of Chicago as we have a strong reputation,” Blue said. “They are just as close to GVSU as is Detroit, and our out-of-state tuition is very competitive with the in-state tuition of Illinois.”

Aside from these factors, GVSU’s marketing team also promotes the university through both web-based advertising and active recruitment in the Chicago area, Blue said.

“GVSU has spent $100,000 on targeted web-based advertising in the Chicago area,” she said. “That supplements an extremely active recruitment effort that relies on our admissions counselor visiting high schools and introducing students personally to what GVSU has to offer.”

William Wallace is one such GVSU recruiter stationed in Chicago. In his work, Wallace visits high schools in the surrounding area to help spread the word about what GVSU has to offer.

“I’m basically stationed in Chicago to primarily make contact with students and their guidance counselors to help answer questions about the GVSU application process,” Wallace said. “In the fall, a lot of time is spent visiting high schools, giving presentations, going to college fairs and conducting on-sight admissions.”

When visiting these various events, Wallace said he highlights how students at GVSU can benefit by attending a university that is both is both big and small at the same time.

“There’s so much about GVSU that stands out, and I think the great thing about it is it offers students a little bit of that small college feel within a large university,” he said. “Students have available professors but have resources and programs to choose from. I also tell students in Illinois that GVSU is both rural and urban because of its location to Grand Rapids.”

In addition to recruiting, Blue said media coverage also plays an important role in reaching Illinois students.

“We have reporters in the region picking up our news and story ideas and exposing people to the highlights of GVSU in that way,” she said. “Sometimes a story that runs locally is picked up by media outlets around the region, country or the world, and all that exposure is not purchased, but rather earned by the interesting nature of the news or feature item.”

While there are many ways for out-of-state students to hear about GVSU, Blue said the main advertising message is the same everywhere.

“Our main message in our advertising and in our decisions with journalists/media is that GVSU provides a tremendous education for the investment made,” she said. “There is value in a GVSU degree. Our graduates are successful and go on to post-graduate work or jobs in their field.”