Growing Strategically Means Numbers—and More
Growing Strategically Means Numbers—and More
“How are the numbers looking?”
This is the #1 question that I get asked from faculty, administrators and staff, especially in August or January. I don’t mind people asking this important question because those “numbers” are an integral part of our mission here at FPU and tied to almost everything we do as an institution. My team in the TUG Admission Office lives and breathes these numbers, but more than that, they put faces and life stories to them as we determine a student’s fit, anticipate their challenges and assist with life-changing decisions. We strive to make them more than a number.
I began my career in enrollment in 1997, so it is fair to say that I have seen enrollment strategies, marketing plans, state and federal laws and guidelines change and evolve over my 22-plus years. The type of students we attract now have different mindsets than those of even four years ago. Parents and families are seen as valued key influencers in a student’s choice of college. Students are listening to these influencers and are making practical decisions based on career options, finances and time to completion. These decisions are reflected in their college search, course preparations and communication responses. Marketing emails have been shortened to promote key points, social media and videos are the norm and paper mailings are making a comeback. Multiple visits with academic advisors, admissions counselors and student financial services officers assist in finalizing and clarifying all the details before the commitment is made.
College recruitment and admission in the traditional undergraduate setting is very much a mixture of art, science and yes, a bit of luck. One crucial move, such as a cancellation of an academic program or a program like DACA, a change in faculty or a beloved admissions counselor, a public dialogue or controversy, tuition flex, changing laws, a new competitor and more can all influence the class that we have so artfully strategized, recruited and planned for. In some cases, it trickles down and it takes a recruitment year or two to see the effects. We start recruiting in junior high school and it does not stop until their first year of college. It is a recruitment plan based on surveys, research and of course numbers.
I would like to share a few numbers with you from this past calendar year from the TUG Admission Office:
- 287,486—number of emails sent and off-campus contacts made with students at college fairs, high schools, etc. in 2019
- 570,000—number (est.) of emails sent by our vendor partners on our behalf highlighting the benefits of FPU
- 104,202—number (est.) of mailing pieces that were sent in 2019 by enrollment (applications, viewbooks, visit brochures, admit letters, confirmations, financial aid information, postcards and more) for students sophomore through transfer
- 4,000+—students we hosted on campus in 2019 through admission via personal visits, group visits, Preview Days, The Encounter, Accepted Day and registration days
- 6,589—number of hours spent calling prospective students by the FPU student call team and our vendor tele-counseling partner (RNL)
- 457—number of high schools visited, college fair events attended and booth spaces rented representing over 25,000+ miles traveled via cars and planes
As we look to FPU’s new strategic map, GEIST, where the “G” represents Grow Strategically, we are given a new set of numbers. Our goal in TUG is to grow to 1,200 students. This involves both recruitment and retention efforts for both freshmen and transfer populations. Our plan to produce recruitment growth in TUG includes increasing our affordability messaging; promoting our new Possibilities Full-Tuition Scholarship program; providing additional aid awards for students in the visual and performing arts, from MB churches and from out of state; and focusing recruitment for our King-Hamer and Samaritan scholarships.
We are working to grow new pathways and partnerships with area high schools both for domestic and international students, including a new partnership with Fresno Unified School District. We want to grow our international non-athlete population and have been working on strengthening our relationships with international recruitment agencies. We are working on academic programs such as 4+1 graduate options and the addition of new programs such as a B.S. in Mathematics and our new Bachelor of Science in Nursing program launching in the fall of 2020.
Work with local community colleges to recruit transfers, hosting transfer information nights and participation in transfer events continues. This November we launched a new tool: Transferology, a product designed to assist in simplifying the transfer process so students can identify what classes transfer earlier in the process, and we are anticipating a fall 2020 launch of the Common App for FPU to assist with application generation of freshmen. We continue to make data-informed decisions on recruitment events, high school visits, advertising options, as well as partnering with our DC/Grad/Sem enrollment teams to give students options that best fit their career goals.
The question I usually get after “how are the numbers?” is “what can I do to help?” This is my favorite question. While there is a lot to do, each of us plays a unique role. Some are directly involved in recruitment and retention and some want to help but don’t know how. My request is that you seek out students on campus (prospective or current), be genuine and learn more about them and their families. Make them more than a number on our visit board or at our retention meeting. Respond to requests for student meetings and campus recruitment events, share FPU with those you come into contact with—you are our best recruiters. Lastly, please pray that God would open hearts and ears to our messages; pray for the counselors, faculty, alumni, students and staff that share this message; and most of all please pray that we can impact HIS kingdom through HIS plan in HIS timing and that we will not be seen as just a number.
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” – Proverbs 19:20 NIV