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US University Best Practices for Encouraging Enrollment

US University Best Practices for Encouraging Enrollment

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US University Best Practices for Encouraging Enrollment

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  1. US University Best Practices for Encouraging Enrollment January 2008

  2. Post-Acceptance Procedures: Overview • The investigation of institutional approaches of American universities in encouraging student enrollment after acceptance. • Findings based on analysis of admissions process at top-tier US universities • Top 25 national universities • Top 25 private liberal arts colleges • And in-depth interviews with seven deans and directors of admission at the top 50 institutions. 1

  3. The Acceptance Letter • Typical contents of acceptance packets from US colleges and universities include: • Acceptance letter • Financial award letter (if applicable) • Private “admitted student only” online accounts • Interactive Flash-based websites • Open house information/invitation • Campus employment opportunities • Tuition fees and deposit reminder • Copy of campus newsletter • Hand-written letters from current undergraduates/interviewers • Housing/dining highlights • Interactive CDs about campus life • Color poster of campus • University bumper sticker • International students receive packets via PDF email or priority mail no later than April 1st. 2

  4. Edging Out Top-Tier Competition • Students with specific academic interests connect with faculty at open houses and phone interviews. • High-priority students receive special treatment • Free airfare (for interviews/campus visits) • Merit scholarship and need-based financial aid packages • Specific phone call pool incorporated within phone-a-thons and other contact efforts • Specialized minority and international outreach programs during open houses “High-priority students may be offered a free flight…we are competing with the Ivys and other top colleges for the same students so we make an effort to bring them to our campus.” —Dean of private liberal arts college 3

  5. Recruiting Desired International Students • International student recruitment • Most contact international students by email • A smaller proportion make calls and visit countries to recruit outstanding students. • Strategy in recruiting top academic talent is simple and visible. “We focus on attracting students interested in studies, but also students who want to live here. This is a community of learning and living, not just learning.” —Dean at private college 4

  6. Timing of Outreach Programs • Recruitment efforts meticulously calculated, though “exact time frame is impossible to pinpoint.” • Recruitment efforts start the day acceptance letters are sent out (mid-March to April 1st). • Colleges and universities coordinate a variety of on- and off-campus activities, most of which are included in open house programs. 5

  7. On-Campus Open Houses • April open house events announced on “Admitted Students” web link or mailed invitation. • Most offer overnight stay experience with current undergraduates • Two to three days in length, staffed by student volunteers, alumni and admissions faculty, two to six times in April. • Picnics and receptions are hosted by student volunteers, who take groups on tours and respond to inquiries and concerns. • Admissions staff set up classroom sit-ins for a teaching experience based on academic interests. 6

  8. On-Campus Visits • Accepted students receive perks and hospitalities from colleges. • Free/subsidized meal tickets • Transportation to-and-from airport • Complimentary airfare for low-income, “high-priority” students • Dynamic programs promoting universities’ unique attributes include: • A 26-hour overnight program that boasts a 30% attendance rate • Boosts campus population by 20%, integrating campus life in recruitment process • Focus on traditional or unusual pastimes: • McCabe Mile run • Eating liquid nitrogen ice cream at Science Center • Playing soccer with undergraduate dean of admission “Everyone is open to helping the pre-freshman on campus for three whole days every year” —Dean of admission at private liberal arts college 7

  9. Additional Recruitment Efforts • Ideal is telephone contact with each student, though not always possible: “It is difficult to get everyone on the phone…there are just too many” —Dean at private college • Other contact methods: • Phone-a-thons—Mass calling by current undergraduate student volunteers, personalizing the application process • Web chats—Scheduled chat room sessions that bring together faculty, alumni and accepted students into a relaxed FAQ atmosphere • Alumni associations—Recruiting students to alma mater, using lists of admitted student names • Postcard campaigns—Current students write postcards to admitted students about personal college experiences 8

  10. Alumni Involvement • Alumni associations have key off-campus roles. For example: • An open house program generates more than 40 annual events across the country. • Alumni telephone calls to accepted students • Host events to introduce current and former students to prospective new students. “Alumni organizations set up contact with students based on where they live. California alumni call California students and so on. A New York Times alumnus will call a prospective journalism student. They really try to utilize as much of their resources as effectively as possible.” —Dean at a Northeast private liberal arts college 9

  11. Parental Involvement • Contact with parents varies greatly among schools. • Schools that make an effort to contact parents • Email, mail or provide a welcome packet to parents to facilitate research (link to Parents university site), offer congratulations, present current parents’ testimonials and build rapport • Initiate parent-to-parent programs—connecting parents of similar locality via phone or email • Provide parent-run open houses that include tours, Q&A sessions, meals and lectures “Parents are sent mail because they deserve to not be left in the dark. They are the ones paying the bills, after all.” —Dean of admissions at private university 10

  12. Recruitment Budget • Universities boast significant budgets for post-acceptance recruitment. • One Northwest liberal arts college estimated the entire admissions costs at $2 million • Another set post-acceptance costs at “about $100,000 annually.” • One college estimated open house programs alone to cost $15,000 • Frequent budget outflows include: • Printing/Postage (invitations, acceptance letters, posters, etc.) • Transportation (airfare mentioned frequently as most costly budget item) • Food expenses and setup involved with open houses • Overnight compensation for volunteers • Chat room website construction and maintenance • Purchases of test center listings (for access to high-priority students) 11