Corps enrollment increasingBy Netta S. Smith
Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 26 - April 4, 1996
The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets has been making efforts to recruit and keep students in the corps, with a goal of building its strength to 1,000 cadets by the year 2000. New scholarships designed to attract outstanding students and a more positive style of training are paying off. Enrollment in this fall's cadet freshman class was up 81 percent over last year's fall numbers.
Recruiting efforts for the cadet class of `00 are looking positive. The recruiting team is using the class of 2000 as a springboard to produce an increase in visits to the corps. As of Jan. 15, 1996, applications and offers of admission to the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets were up tremendously from last year's effort. There had been nearly 700 applications (versus 439 at the same point in 1995) and Tech had offered admission to 390 of those applicants. In addition, prospective students accepting admission to Tech and the corps were running 75 percent ahead of last year. The minimum goal for the fall of 1996 is 300 new cadets.
Nearly 240 freshmen and transfer students arrived for cadre training this fall. It was the first time since 1989 that more than 200 freshmen have accepted an invitation to join the corps and then have matriculated.
This year's class has an average SAT score of 1,115 and an average high-school grade-point average of 3.4. Sixty-two percent of the incoming corps freshmen graduated in the top 20 percent of their high-school classes, and 46 percent were members of the National Honor Society. Eleven entering freshmen were high-school valedictorians or salutatorians.
About 67 percent of the new cadets earned high-school varsity letters in athletics, and 78 were selected to all-district, regional, or state teams. Many also were leaders in JROTC, student government, band, choir, school publications, and community-service organizations.
The increase in interest and applications can be attributed to several recent improvements and new opportunities within the corps. Part of the credit for the corps increase in number and quality of students goes to the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Alumni Inc. (VTCCA). In the early part of the 1990s, a concerned group of alumni from the Corps of Cadets formed the group to help in recruitment and retention efforts.
The VTCCA's main goal is to raise $5 million for endowed scholarships, but they also help in many other ways, such as recruiting, administration, publicity, and helping set goals for the corps. They also give the corps an extra voice in the university. Recently, the VTCCA paid for new recruiting brochures for the corps, replacing antiquated material.
The keys to bringing in a fall class of 300 will be in maintaining close contact with students offered admission to Tech and the corps. Recruiters plan to encourage all those students to visit overnight with cadets so that they can see the quality training, esprit de corps, and unique opportunities that make the extra effort put forth in the corps worthwhile.
To help the corps recruiting officer, the VTCCA set up its own recruiting committee and a network of alumni who recruit students from various locations. In addition, current cadets are making more recruiting trips. The corps and the VTCCA also have forged closer ties with Admissions and Financial Aid. The corps also is much more vigilant about making sure it is represented in appropriate university publications.
This fall, the university began offering an academic minor or concentration in leadership studies. The new minor combines the progressive leader-development experience of the corps with applicable courses from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Pamplin College of Business. The minor-which is the only one of its kind in the nation-has created interest among students and parents across the country. This distinction is giving the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets an edge over other military colleges and programs, and, in some cases, over the military academies, according to some prospective cadets.
In addition, the university has established a Center for Leader Development with the corps as a focal point.
A new training style that emphasizes more individual responsibility, builds on the strengths of each cadet, and reinforces academic excellence is helping keep cadets in the corps. One tactic is to make Recognition Day, when freshmen are officially made members of the corps, much earlier in the year than it had previously been held.
The corps also has been working to increase familiarity with the corps within the university. The Cadet Museum is open regular hours and a cadet is writing a weekly column about the corps for the Collegiate Times.
The General Assembly has appropriated $1,900 per cadet through the Unique Military Activities appropriation. These funds are making a difference in such areas as administration, improved uniforms, and a new obstacle course.
As part of efforts to attract highly qualified students from across the nation, the university, the ROTC units, and the VTCCA have teamed up to create the Emerging Leader Scholarships (ELS). The program provides the equivalent of room and board-about $3,100 per year-for up to 100 out-of-state high-school seniors. The program was originally designed for out-of-state students based on the university's and the corps' need to stop the decline in students from outside Virginia because of higher tuition and fees. The new program has been expanded, and will provide 100 Virginia residents with $1,250 per year (about the cost of a room at Tech) for four years, or a total of $5,000.