New hire leads focused freshman recruitment effort at Detroit Mercy

In the Fall 2023, the University of Detroit Mercy welcomed its largest freshman class in 14 years, a group of 552 new students.  

This increase in first-year students is a result of the work done by the Freshman Recruitment team at the University of Detroit Mercy.  

Trace Althoff, the Director of Freshman Recruitment, has been with the University since November 2023. As a Cleveland- native, his first time on campus was in 1998 after playing in a baseball game. Since then, he has witnessed the University’s continual growth.  

“The school has great momentum,” Althoff said. “It’s awesome to see how the campus has transformed, and it’s great to see our enrollment going in the right direction.”  

The recruitment process operates in cycles, with its busiest times being in the fall and spring.  

During peak recruitment seasons, Althoff and his team travel throughout the entire state of Michigan, attending college fairs and visiting hundreds of high schools. Typically, winter recruitment is slower, but the Freshman Recruitment team continues to engage with local, national, and international students.  

“There are kids from all over the world that study here, which is really awesome,” Althoff said. “I think it adds to the academic environment and student experience.”  

Althoff believes that Detroit Mercy offers students a unique college experience because of its central location, engaging campus and caring students, faculty and staff.  

“I love it here,” Althoff said. “The best part about Detroit Mercy is everyone is really nice. We have a beautiful campus, and we are 10 minutes away from downtown Detroit. It’s a pretty dynamic place to be, and I think our numbers are reflecting that.” Although 70% of students at the University are from Michigan, the Freshman Recruitment team has visited high schools and college fairs in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois to connect with out-of-state students. 

Ryan Schira, a Freshman Admission Counselor, enjoys sharing the unique offerings of the University with potential students. 

 “During my visits, I highlight what Detroit Mercy has to offer, such as highly ranked academic programs, 100 plus student organizations, campus resources, on-campus events, and of course, the Motor City,” Schira said. 

Schira’s favorite part about working in recruitment is interacting with incoming students and their families about Detroit Mercy’s immersive campus and prime location. 

“I’m very passionate about Detroit and everything that resides within the city limits,” Schira said. “I enjoy seeing students grow throughout the recruitment process – whether that is them finishing high school strong, joining new clubs, or volunteering in their community.” 

Raine Friday, a Freshman Admissions Counselor for Detroit Public Schools Community District, Illinois, and international students, serves as a point of contact between prospective students and Detroit Mercy.  

“I like speaking with the high school students and being a resource for them as they make this huge decision in their life,” Friday said. “I always like to think that I may be speaking with the next big dentist, actor or architect as everyone that attends here has a plethora of opportunity to become an expert in the major that they are interested in.”  

The goal of the Freshman Recruitment team at the University of Detroit Mercy is to create a comfortable environment for students as they begin their college experience. Their dedication and passion for both students and the University is reflected in the large freshman class size this academic year.  

“I think this is the best place, but they (students) have to feel it too,” Althoff said.We want to make sure that we are accessible. We want to give students and families all of the tools they need to make their decision.”  

Althoff’s enthusiasm for Detroit Mercy is what motivates him during recruitment. He hopes that students are excited for their college experience at Detroit Mercy.  

“I always tell kids, you’re only 18 to 22 years old one time,” Althoff said. “I always challenge students to take advantage of what goes on here on campus, because whether they live at home, or whether they live in Shiple, this is home for the next four years.”