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A10: Strategies for Recruiting High-Ability Students. Michael Hovland, ACT, IA Mark Dunn, Yale University, CT Ron McFall, Indiana University–Bloomington, IN Jonathan Wehner, Case Western Reserve University, OH Matthew Ellis, Arizona State University, AZ. Focus of Today’s Session.

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a10 strategies for recruiting high ability students

A10: Strategies for Recruiting High-Ability Students

Michael Hovland, ACT, IA

Mark Dunn, Yale University, CT

Ron McFall, Indiana University–Bloomington, IN

Jonathan Wehner, Case Western Reserve University, OH

Matthew Ellis, Arizona State University, AZ

focus of today s session
Focus of Today’s Session
  • We’ll discuss how home location, family income, level of parent education, and student degree goals affect the enrollment preferences and the enrollment behaviors of high-ability students
  • We’ll look at the academic interests of high-ability students
  • We’ll discuss college environments where high-ability students thrive and recruitment strategies to attract them
pool size for research
Pool Size for Research
  • High School Graduating Class of 2012
    • 1,666,017 ACT-tested students
    • 1,172,602 enrolled in college (70.4%)
    • 213,426 ACT-tested with ACT Comp. Score of 28-36
    • 184,571 enrolled in college (86.5%)
      • We have indications that the number of students scoring 28-36 has grown significantly in the past several years
definition of selectivity for this research
Definition of Selectivity for This Research

The approximate mid-point ACT Composite Score for Enrolled Students:

  • Highly selective ACT Comp >=28
  • Moderately selective ACT Comp 24-27
  • Less selective ACT Comp <=23
  • Test score not required
    • Combination of open admission and a few test optional
limitations of the research behind today s presentation
Limitations of the Research BehindToday’s Presentation
  • A high percentage of high-ability students enroll at highly selective institutions
  • But we don’t have data on where students apply and whether or not they are admitted
  • So, we don’t know whether some high-ability students did not attend highly-selective institutions because they chose not to apply or because they weren’t admitted.
enrollment intentions and behaviors of high ability students
Enrollment Intentions and Behaviors of High-Ability Students
  • We’ll be looking at ways we can identify student enrollment intentions and how the intentions carry through to actual enrollments
  • Institutions can use this information in two ways:
    • (1) You can target students more likely to enroll at your institution, or
    • (2) You can actively try to change the enrollment behaviors of high-ability students less likely to enroll
differentiating characteristics among high ability students
Differentiating Characteristics Among High Ability Students
  • Student home location
  • Family Income
  • Level of parent education
  • Lifetime degree plans
the relationship between student ability and college selectivity
The Relationship Between Student Ability and College Selectivity
  • The data suggest clearly that as ability levels rise, students are more likely to attend more selective institutions
  • When that doesn’t happen, what are possible explanations?
    • We get important clues from differences in student enrollment intentions when examined by (1) where students live, (2) family income, (3) level of parent education, and (4) degree plans
home location is predictive of enrollment behavior
Home Location Is Predictive of Enrollment Behavior
  • There are clear differences in student enrollment preferences and behaviors by these locations:
    • Rural
    • Town
    • Suburban
    • Urban

When we use the term “home location” in this presentation, we refer to the location of a student’s high school.

characteristics of high ability students from rural areas and smaller towns
Characteristics of High-Ability Students from Rural Areas and Smaller Towns
  • In contrast to students from urban and suburban areas, high-ability students from rural areas and small towns:
    • Have lower median miles to enrolled college
    • Are less likely to enroll out of state
    • At all income levels, less likely to attend:
      • a highly selective college
      • a college out of state
      • a 4-year private college
parent guardian level of education is predictive of enrollment behavior
Parent/Guardian Level of Education Is Predictive of Enrollment Behavior
  • As parent/guardian level of education increases…
    • The percent of students who prefer to attend and attend out of state increases
    • Students prefer to attend and attend college farther from home
    • Students are more likely to attend selective and highly selective institutions
students with act comp 28 36 selectivity of enrolled college by level of parent education
Students with ACT Comp 28-36: Selectivity of Enrolled College by Level of Parent Education
student degree aspirations are predictive of enrollment behavior
Student Degree Aspirations Are Predictive of Enrollment Behavior
  • As student degree aspirations increase…
    • The percent of students who prefer to attend and attend out of state increases
    • Students enroll farther from home
    • The percent of students who prefer to attend a 4-year private college increases
intended educational majors
Intended Educational Majors
  • High-ability students have very different educational major interests than lower-ability students
search criteria to identify the enrollment intentions of high ability students
Search Criteria to Identify the Enrollment Intentions of High-Ability Students
  • Student geographical location
  • Preferred distance from home to campus
  • Parent/guardian level of education
  • Highest degree expected
  • Family income
keys for recruiting high ability students less selective institutions
Keys for Recruiting High-Ability Students: Less Selective Institutions
  • Less selective institutions will have more recruitment success with high ability students:
    • Who live in-state and who live closer to campus
    • Who prefer to attend college closer to home
    • Who live in rural areas and smaller towns
    • From lower and middle-income families
    • With lower levels of parent education
    • With lower degree goals
keys for recruiting high ability students more selective institutions
Keys for Recruiting High-Ability Students: More Selective Institutions
  • More selective institutions will have more recruitment success with high ability students:
    • Who prefer to attend college farther from home
    • Who live in suburban and urban areas
    • From higher income families
    • With higher levels of parent education
    • With higher degree goals
  • All of the above are especially true if you are recruiting out-of-state students
yale university office of undergraduate admissions

Yale UniversityOffice of Undergraduate Admissions

Mark Dunn ’07

Director of Outreach & Recruitment

Yale University Office of Undergraduate Admissions


Outreach Context

Search: ~100,000 prospects per class (nearly all domestic)

PSAT + ACT – 70%

Cappex + Zinch - 15%

Other Inquiries – 10%

QuestBridge – 5%

Applicants: ~ 30,000 freshman applicants per class

Admitted Students: ~2,000 (6.8% admission rate)

Freshman Class: ~1,350 (68% yield rate)


Student Outreach Experience

  • In-Person
  • Campus Visit
  • Evening Information Sessions
  • School Visits
  • Mail + Web
  • Search Letter
  • Viewbook
  • Email Campaigns
  • Social Media + Virtual Tour
  • Themes:
  • Authoritative but authentic student voice.
  • Accessibility of resources.
  • Peers as Yale’s best resource.
  • My Mantra:
  • “Talk to them like adults. Fun adults.”

Student Outreach Experience


- Campus Visit: ~15,000-20,000 prospects annually

3 Part Campus Visit Experience:

Information Session (No script. No PowerPoint.)

Campus Tour (No script. No assigned route. )

Student Forum (No parents. No admissions officers. No trained students. “Discuss amongst yourselves”)

The Secret Sauce? Trust.


Student Outreach Experience

  • Mail + Web
  • Search Letter – Mailed to ~80,000 prospects
  • “Talk to them like adults.”

Student Outreach Experience

  • Mail + Web
  • Viewbook– sent to all search letter recipients.
  • Student voices. Separate text, stats, and images. 125 pages.

@prince_ocey says “Sifting through this junk college mail and found something worthwhile…it’s Yale University. Best college mail yet!!! #college #happy #yale #messy #awesome”


Student Outreach Experience

  • Mail + Web
  • Email Campaigns: Series of 4 to ~100,000 prospects.
  • Authoritative student voice (written in collaboration).
  • Much shorter and less linear than search letter, but still text-driven.
  • Includes social media nudges.
  • Capitalize on, but don’t exploit naturalcuriosity about selective admissions.
  • “Talk to them like adults. Fun adults.”

Student Outreach Experience

  • Mail + Web
  • Social Media + Virtual Tour:
  • Facebook + Tumblr
    • Produced in-house with students and admissions officers.
    • Tumbler posts = 2x Facebook.
    • Active engagement with university social media strategy.
  • Virtual tour
    • Promoted in all emails.
    • Real Yale student guides.
    • Translations available.

Supplemental Campaigns

  • Low-Income
  • 2 postcards with average net price info + fee waiver guidelines.
    • Driven by Hoxby research.
  • URM
  • Diversity Viewbook:
    • 17 pages. Not solely focused on racial/ethnic diversity
  • STEM
  • Science & Engineering Viewbook
    • 45 pages. Focused on student, alumni and professor profiles.

Our Perspective

  • The Yale name can make a student open our viewbook or email. Our job is open that student’s mind about Yale.
  • Academic strength/fit isn’t given, but it isn’t these students’ sole focus either.
  • Questions we try to answer before they’re asked:
    • Who goes there?
    • What are classes like?
    • What is the real experience like?
    • What do students do for fun?
    • What do you look for in an application?
    • How could I ever – in a million years – afford to go there?
  • Current students are the best salespeople. Facilitate these interactions and get out of the way.
indiana university bloomington
Indiana University - Bloomington
  • Bloomington, IN
  • Flagship campus
  • Public research university
  • Fall 2013 enrollment
    • 31,984 undergraduates
    • 58% resident
    • 42% non-resident
office of scholarships
Office of Scholarships
  • Created in 2007
  • Result of new leadership and campus task force
  • Scholarships were seen as “everyone’s job and no one’s job”
  • New strategy to align award administration with changing recruitment goals
  • Recruitment office targeting scholarship-eligible students
  • Separate from Admissions and Financial Aid
key recruitment strategies
Key Recruitment Strategies
  • Merit scholarship recruitment
  • Personalized outreach
  • Scholar recruitment events
  • Regional recruitment
merit scholarship recruitment
Merit Scholarship Recruitment
  • IU Achievement Scholarships (new for 2014)
    • Assessed at time of admission
    • November 1 deadline
    • Interactive award letter
    • Replaces previous “automatic” model
    • Projected 8,000+ offers for 2014 class
  • Selective Scholarship Application (SSA)
    • Custom online app used by top IU schools
    • Built for student at time of admission
    • November 1 deadline
    • 22% of admits receive an SSA invitation
    • Opportunity for additional offers and personal outreach
merit scholarship recruitment1
Merit Scholarship Recruitment
  • IU Foundation Scholarships
    • Leverage donor funds for recruitment
    • Modified award process and timeline
    • Additional recruitment touch for yield
    • Flexibility in targeting key markets
    • New stewardship program for 2014
  • Enhanced award communication
    • Consolidated award letter
    • March 1 scholarship posting date
    • Focus on net cost and financial literacy
    • Targeting scholars with known aid
      • 21st Century Scholars Program
    • Development of dynamic award notifications
personalized communication
Personalized Communication
  • Stripes campaign
    • “You’ve Earned your Stripes”
    • Web/social media/print
    • Launch in late fall
    • IU scarf sent to over 3,500 top scholarship recipients
    • “Show us your Stripes” photo contest
    • Winner selected by current IU scholars
personalized communication1
Personalized Communication
  • State Campaign
    • Interactive map and microsite
    • Custom postcards
    • Ten target markets
    • National presence
    • Introduce and inform
    • Focus on key academic programs
  • Scholarship Advisory Committee (SAC)
    • Current IU scholars
    • Assist with recruitment, marketing, and other projects
    • Attend events and speak with prospective students
    • Personalized event follow up
scholar recruitment events
Scholar Recruitment Events
  • IU Game Days
    • Football tailgate event for high ability rising seniors
    • Free tickets, t-shirts, and other IU freebies
    • Prospects and admits
    • Campus partners and admissions
    • Mingle with current IU students
    • “Snap a Scholar”
  • VIP Visits
    • Personalized campus visit day program
    • Meetings with faculty and opportunity to attend an IU lecture
    • Lunch with current students and staff
scholar recruitment events1
Scholar Recruitment Events
  • IU Scholar Receptions
    • Signature yield event
    • Formal celebration of scholarship recipients
    • Speech from Director, Vice Provost, and current student
    • Highlight key academic programs
    • Gifts for students and families in attendance
    • Seven markets annually
      • South Florida and Los Angeles new for 2014
regional recruitment
Regional Recruitment
  • New staff (Admissions) placed in Chicago, California, and New York
    • Strengthens pipeline
    • Promotes awareness of programs
  • Hoosier Hospitality
    • Hosted by Admissions
    • Targeted populations
    • Pilot year - Chicago and New York
  • Dynamic region-specific messaging
    • Market trends
    • SAC event follow-up for multiple key markets
  • Improved class profile
    • 2013 class is most academically talented in IU history
    • Coincides with overall enrollment growth
  • Merit scholarship impact
    • Substantial SSA growth in completed applications (24%)
    • Positive yield trends for targeted populations (donor funds)
  • Hutton Honors College profile
    • 29% growth for incoming class over 2012
    • Largest freshman class in Honors College history (1,050)
  • Influential scholar recruitment events
    • Strong deposit rates for IU Scholar Receptions
      • Indianapolis (81%), Cincinnati (69%), and Chicago (67%)
  • Growth in key non-resident markets
    • 1 of of every 7 incoming freshmen now from Chicago area
    • 17% app growth for 2013 in our key non-resident markets
future directions
Future Directions
  • Development and growth of non-resident markets
  • Deeper yield assessment on recipient populations
  • Expanded CRM initiatives
    • New parent communications
    • Innovate, not saturate
  • Leverage changing profile
  • Further utilize data to shift campus scholarship culture

4,400 undergraduate students

Arts and Sciences; Engineering; Nursing; Business Management

ACT Middle 50%: 29-33

recruiting to desirable programs
Recruiting to Desirable Programs

Intended Major Categories by Frequency Rank for ACT Composite 28-36:


Health Sci. & Techno.


Sciences: Biological and Physical

recruiting to desirable programs1
Recruiting to Desirable Programs

Less than 25% of our students are outside the listed range.

Competing with other top programs for high ability students.

Campaigns introduced after dropping yield or applications in key areas.

recruiting to desirable programs2
Recruiting to Desirable Programs

CWRU direct mail campaign:

3 campaigns: Nursing, Engineering, Science and Mathematics

Fall senior year


Focused on program differentiators

recruiting to desirable programs3
Recruiting to Desirable Programs

Email campaigns:

3 campaigns: Nursing, Management, Pre-med


Highlighting program differentiators, rankings, current events

retain high ability students
Retain High-Ability Students

Weekly email newsletter:

Specifically to engage first-year students

Delivered Thursday evening

9 stories, 1 video

Focused on navigating campus resources and events taking place the following week

retain high ability students1
Retain High-Ability Students

First-year portal:

Mirrors stories from newsletter

Divided into categories: live – housing, student activities, neighborhood life; manage – billing, financial aid, registration; learn – academic programs

Internal marketing

matthew ellis director of freshman admission

Arizona State University

A New American University

Matthew EllisDirector of Freshman Admission


General University Admission Criteria16 core competencies &

AZ Residents


76,000 total enrollment

54,333 undergraduates

38,712 freshman applicants

27,488 admits

10,377 incoming freshmen

58% resident / 42% non-resident

5 campus locations


63% of residents in the top quarter of their class

31% first generation

25.6% from low income households



1,500+ freshman entering Barrett, the Honors College

4,100+ total program enrollment

70% resident, 30% non-resident

700 National Merit, Hispanic and Achievement Scholars

Approx 230 per incoming class

Repeatedly ranked as a top honors program in the nation

5th in the nation for production of Fulbright Scholars

Tied with Yale and UC Berkeley



Work like one university…think like five

Very specific enrollment targets by program, college, campus, Barrett, geomarket and ability bands.

Specific National Scholar and Flinn Scholar goals

Targeted segmentation at search by academic program, campus environment and ability.

+500,000 suspects – 24 ability and environment segments, then interests and geomarket

Integrated multi-source marketing initiatives

Cooperative recruitment teams across university departments

High touch personal attention

120,000 outbound personal phone calls

Residential college model influences experienced based marketing initiatives




8 email and 2 print cycle

Travel: 1,600 high school visits and college fairs in the fall

25 nationwide ASU events


High variable content email campaign / 7-10 mailings

Monthly program/college communication

VIP program


Multi-step rapid response personal contact model in CRM


Combined university and admitted college communication flow

Private social network

Enrollment coaching program



High ability campus visit fly-ins

Personal communication from the president and the provost

Personally selected books to top admits

College based academy programs

Experience and outcomes heavy messaging

Top 5 university for recruiting graduates –Wall Street Journal

Top 100 university in the world

Center for World University Rankings

Academic Rankings of World Universities

5th for Fulbright Scholars

Undergraduate Research

Successful alumni

Top university for student entrepreneurship

Phoenix as an internship capital