Mary Baldwin message resonates with record high application numbers

STAUNTON — Call it effective advertising and marketing or the result of the expansion of programming, either way Mary Baldwin University is celebrating the new year with a record high increase of new applications.

For 2018-2019, MBU has received 6,500 applications. Last year, the university received 1,900 and for 2016-2017 MBU received 4,000 applications.

“So we’ve been delighted by how much interest students and families have shown in a Mary Baldwin education,” Ty Buckman, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said.

While difficult to pinpoint definitively the reason for the increase in applications, Buckman said MBU staff think several initiatives have “led to the increase in interest.”

Buckman said that MBU offers a “personalized student-centered education” with small classes. There are indications that the one-on-one attention students can receive at an educational institution like MBU better prepares them for life after college, especially in the work force.

“We’ve taken a different look at our campus,” Buckman, who came to MBU in July 2017 and lives in Staunton, said.

Along with Aimee Rose, vice president of external affairs at Mary Baldwin University, and other staff members, Buckman said they realized they should get the message out to potential applicants: MBU “has so much to offer.”

The current academic year is the second year the university has welcomed men living on campus. For decades, Buckman said, men were commuter students.

“That has made the college more attractive to male students,” Buckman said.

Interestingly, Buckman said that the largest group among the 6,500 applicants for 2018-2019 are women who are interested in a co-educational university experience. Applicants are given the option on their application.

Buckman said that nationally women of the current generation are reluctant to choose a single-gender campus experience, despite research showing that women benefit from such an educational experience.

“I would say that the applications are up because the messages that we are putting out are resonating with the right audiences,” Rose said. The university began expanding its audience to include men in the last academic year.

Rose said that she thinks what MBU is offering to college students has not changed, “just the way we’re offering.”

Also, MBU is focusing on looking for applicants who will be happy living and going to college in the Shenandoah Valley with a scenic view of the mountains and a rural atmosphere. Students who are looking for a big city atmosphere will not be happy attending the university.

Mary Baldwin College was founded in 1842, and operated by Mary Julia Baldwin, a Virginia educator, for 34 years. The college was named in her honor in 1895.

Mary Baldwin College became Mary Baldwin University on Aug. 31, 2016, and also expanded offerings with four new academic programs in fall 2017. MBU calls the new programs residential cohorts, and they are the Murphy Deming Scholars Program in health sciences, Education Leaders, Young Women Entrepreneurs and Shakespeare and Performing Arts Scholars.

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