A new scholarship program model is helping to draw top students to the Hilltop.

Scholarship programs offered by SMU’s schools and targeting students committed to specific disciplines have emerged as crucial components of SMU’s recruitment efforts in recent years.

These scholarships reflect the model of the Edwin L. Cox BBA Scholars Program in Cox School of Business, which provides financial support for highly qualified first-year students who express advance interest in business as a major. Approximately half of the 100 students who enter SMU as BBA Scholars each year receive financial support from the Cox School, thanks to a $5 million challenge gift from Edwin L. Cox ’42 in 2007 and $7 million in annual and endowment funds from generous donors.

Other schools have created similar programs, including the Dedman College Scholars Program in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences; the Lyle Scholars Program in Lyle School of Engineering; and the Meadows Scholars Program in Meadows School of the Arts. Annual funding opportunities range from $5,000 to $7,500 per year, depending on the school program. These funds are provided as scholarships to incoming students and may also support research, travel or individual academic projects. Program scholars may participate in seminars and special classes as well.

The impact of these merit-based scholarship programs on SMU’s student quality is clear; the average SAT score for entering first-year students has risen from 1144 to 1242 in the past decade.

“The smart, meritorious students we are trying to recruit are getting offers from lots of schools,” says Stephanie Dupaul, director of BBA Admissions at the Cox School. “Very often the scholarship is what makes the difference in whether they attend SMU or not.”

Other schools’ recruiters agree.

“We have more students applying, and we have better students enrolling because of these scholarships,” says Mickey Saloma, director of Undergraduate Enrollment Management at Lyle School of Engineering.

“Meadows Scholars are brilliantly talented,” says Thomas Newton, director of student recruitment in Meadows School of the Arts. “They are very strong academically. And many wouldn’t be here if not for the Meadows Scholars Program.”

Mara Morhouse, recruiter and scholarship officer in Dedman College, says the Dedman College Scholars Program, inaugurated in fall 2009, is already proving to be an effective recruitment tool.

“It’s clear that if we can help alleviate some of the stress associated with tuition costs, we can get these very fine students one step closer to enrolling in SMU,” she says.

To learn about supporting SMU’s student quality, please contact Assistant Vice President for University Development Pam Conlin at 214-768-3738 or pconlin@smu.edu.