Numbers That Work

Keeping admissions and enrollment personalized despite large numbers of inquiries.

GUEST COLUMN | by Mildred Johnson

CREDIT Virginia TechOur university consists of more than 31,000 students, more than 24,000 of whom are undergraduates. Each year, we receive over 20,000 applications for undergraduate admissions. In the fall of 2014, we enrolled a freshman class of 5,364. We are fortunate to have a partner working with us to ensure that our admissions and enrollment processes are as efficient and productive as possible. I believe strongly that it is important to make and keep the admissions process personalized.

These days, prospective students often expect an instant and interactive experience with the colleges and universities they are considering.

Often, college admissions seem unapproachable to prospective students and their families. However, my team and I are dedicated to reading each application we receive and reviewing the applicant’s credentials in a thoughtful way through our holistic review process. These days, prospective students often expect an instant and interactive experience with the colleges and universities they are considering. Like everyone else, we are trying to be creative in finding ways to reach our target audience and break through all of the noise. To accomplish this, we’ve made a conscious effort to meet students where they are. While we still value and facilitate the traditional college visit, we have enhanced our virtual experiences by creating a virtual tour, organizing web Q&A events, and partnering with Chegg, a leader in college networking and recruiting.

We chose a partner based on how their products and services align with our goals and priorities — and they reach 75% of college bound students. They are very creative and fun to work with, and they do a great job of helping us connect with prospective students by sending us inquiries and designing a user-friendly social media platform where we can interact with prospective students.

Periodically, throughout the recruitment process, they send online messages through their platform on our behalf. For the Class of 2018, we received more than 17,000 inquires. Of that number:

  • 24% became applicants
  • 76% of those applicants were offered admission
  • Of those admitted, 64% were in-state and 34% were out-of-state
  • 46 states were represented, as were Guam and Puerto Rico.

These results clearly show that our partner provided a significant number of qualified applicants, and they advanced our goal of attracting more out-of-state students. The numbers speak for themselves. Best of all, they reach large numbers of college-bound students — and specifically a good portion of our incoming class — year after year.

Ready to Adapt

That said, one of the most compelling reasons for partnering with such a company is the return on investment. We believed it was a good idea to partner with them and we enjoyed working with their people. However, the numbers more than validate our choice. They help us recruit so many great students each year, and their student focus is very exciting and refreshing.

Higher education institutions need a partner that is forward thinking and I personally value that. I believe we have to always be looking ahead and that we need to always be ready to adapt and meet our prospective students where they are. These days, you need a partner to help you accomplish this.

To education leaders, administrators, and anyone looking to significantly improve their admissions procedures: find a trusted partner. Choose to work with a leader of experience and quality that will produce very real and measurable benefits. And if the numbers can speak for themselves, then those are numbers that work.

Mildred Johnson is the Associate Vice Provost for Enrollment Management and Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Virginia Tech. Write to: mildredj@exchange.vt.edu

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