This archived article was written by: James Justice
Over the past decade, nationwide, there has been an influx of young adults, ages 18-24, who decided to go to college. From 2004 to 2010 there has been a 36 percent increase in enrollment at USU Eastern (CEU). However, 2011 fall semester at USU Eastern, the school saw a decline in enrollment of almost 13 percent. This number sparked major changes in almost every aspect of this college.
At the beginning of the 2011 fall semester, Chancellor Joe Peterson, hired a company named “Scannell & Kurz” out of New York. They specialize in “ higher education consulting services related to strategic enrollment management and planning.”
The reason for hiring this company was, the Chancellor noted, was that “a great deal of expertise exists in the field of enrollment management – tactical practices that help colleges to attract and retain students and grow enrollments. These were areas in which the college has not performed well, and this poor performance reduces the college’s ability to serve the state, the region, and individual students. We needed the advice of experts regarding best practices to improve the college’s positive impacts.”
S & K came in, interviewed the administration, staff and students to find out why at USU Eastern, the enrollment numbers are declining. In December 2011, S & K issued a 41-page finding and recommendation report to Chancellor Peterson at USU Eastern.
One of the reasons cited in the report for USU Eastern’s enrollment decline was the dropping numbers of high school students choosing to come and tour USU Eastern’s campus. This is a significant issue because faculty uses these names to recruit students to their individual departments.
According to the S & K report: “The results of the [USU] Eastern tour activity comparing fall 2009 to fall 2010 indicates that 28 of the 156 programs were down at least nine students with 10 down over 20 and the highest down 40. During the same time period, there were 10 programs with grains of eight or more students with the highest gain 34.
In the fall 2010 tour, at 40 programs or 26 percent, [USU] Eastern saw no students. Of those 40 programs, students were seen at 22 of them in 2009.
A review of [USU] Eastern’s High School Tour numbers since 2000 indicates that 57 programs (37 percent) had a one-year decline from 2009 to 2010; 20 programs (13 percent) had a two-year decline; and eight programs (5 percent) had over a two-year decline in the number of students seen.
Overall, [USU] Eastern High School Tour numbers were down 35 percent from 2009.”
In this report S & K discussed the downfalls in record keeping, marketing and enrollment management, and recruitment, “The responsibility and accountability for data were absent at all levels – campus wide as well as on a unit level in admissions and enrollments. […] USU Eastern needs to expand the utilization of USU Logan’s resources to help address data management and especially reporting.”
This report by S & K is honest about the downfalls at USU Eastern. But, it lists 25 recommendations on how to fix the downfalls:
Determine mission and priorities.
Develop core messages that describe, differentiate, and excite.
Once the agreed to educational mission emerges from the planning exercise, the college next needs to develop an internal marketing campaign that features the benefits to USU Eastern that the merger provides. This internal campaign must build consensus about the values and messaging of [USU] Eastern’s educational mission. Finally, an external marketing campaign will brand the college and build awareness and visibility through consistent messaging.
The [USU] Eastern enrollment team needs to regularly and routinely utilize the skill set of the Logan enrollment staff in order to leverage resources and expertise.
The college needs to work on web content immediately.
Continue to develop a “culture of evidence.”
To be successful in meeting enrollment goals, [USU] Eastern needs to organize for enrollment management across enrollment-related offices. Furthermore, enrollment management leadership needs to devote full and complete attention to developing, leading and executing the strategic recruitment and enrollment plans.
The admissions office is under resourced in staff and operating budget.
The admission processing function should be the admissions office not the registrar’s office.
Immediately implement Banner Relationship Management (BRM).
USU Eastern must begin to manage enrollment from the point of inquiry through application to enrollment.
Part of a best practice recruitment plan involves the development of a comprehensive territorial management plan, not just a territorial travel plan. A best practice plan establishes specific goals for inquiries, applications, and enrollments by territory.
New enrollment service’s leadership needs to develop a written comprehensive, multi-year, multimedia, customized (by campus), segmented by interest communication plan which is part of an overall strategic recruitment plan.
Integrate information about the career and transfer outcomes of recent USU Eastern graduates, as well as information on experiential opportunities available for students, into recruitment communications and programming for on-campus events in order to strengthen the case for the return on investment of an USU Eastern education.
Affordability messages should be developed.
The admissions office needs to review and revamp the Ambassador program.
Revamp campus recruitment programs to include a “WOW” experience.
“Hot prospects” should have an enhanced communication stream.
Reconsider changing the application fee to $40.
The current practice, which has counselor’s data entering inquiries, is not a good solution.
Establish a faculty-admission partnership.
Develop support programs to assist USU Eastern students to transfer to four-year programs.
Eliminate the scholarship application for the next scholarship cycle.
The awarding of institution al aid should be centralized, used strategically in support of meeting enrollment goals, and be timely in order to influence probability of enrollment.
Pilot a program to create more on-campus jobs rather than grants and scholarships to continuing students.