||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
Admissions Office Introduces|
Additional Recruiting Strategies
MAILED: July 14, 1998|
EAU CLAIRE Not long ago, even the brightest high school students had to seek out information about colleges or universities they might like to attend. Admissions staffs would answer questions, give tours and send information as requested.
Today top high school students have to do little more than open the mailbox, answer the telephone or check their e-mail to get that same kind of information often from institutions they had not even considered attending.
More and more schools including the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire are reaching out to outstanding high school students instead of waiting for students to come to them.
"We have to court our top prospective students," said Julie Severson, a public relations specialist in the Admissions Office. "They expect it now. They know they have lots of options."
"Prospective students and their families are much better consumers now," said Roger GroeneWold, director of Admissions. "They want to investigate the product carefully before investing time in an application. They know they meet or surpass admission requirements at most universities so they take care in zeroing in on their choice or choices. We get few students in any more who are looking at just one or two schools most are looking at six or eight."
Severson's position was created to help the Admissions Office be more proactive and creative in its recruitment of the brightest students who also will likely find success at UW-Eau Claire.
"When I walked into this position, they already had in place a very smart recruitment cycle," Severson said. "I'm here to enhance it and make sure we're communicating with the right students at the right time with the right message."
For example, this year UW-Eau Claire will buy lists of names of high school students who have scored well on the ACT. Those students will receive mailings from UW-Eau Claire encouraging them to consider it when looking at schools.
"We want to be more active in recruiting students who are not yet interested in UW-Eau Claire," GroeneWold said, noting that the university rarely has bought such lists in the past.
In its new recruitment campaign, UW-Eau Claire initially will concentrate its efforts on top students in Wisconsin and Minnesota, said Kris Anding, associate director of Admissions. Some 8,000-10,000 high school juniors and seniors will be targeted under the new direct mail campaign. A special effort also will be made to increase contact with Eau Claire area students.
"We've heard comments from our faculty and staff asking us why we haven't recruited their son or daughter when a number of other schools have," Anding said of the decision to strengthen local recruitment efforts. "They want to know if we think their kids aren't good enough for UW-Eau Claire."
But in the past, unless that son or daughter sent the Admissions Office their ACT scores or requested information from the university, the Admissions staff did not know about them, GroeneWold said.
The addition of a public relations specialist housed in the Admissions Office will enable the staff to analyze its recruitment efforts and make changes as needed, GroeneWold said. It also will help ensure that the messages that are sent from the university to prospective students are consistent, he said.
Among Severson's first tasks in her new position was to organize focus groups with area high school seniors. She wanted to know what information they wanted from the university and in what form.
"They said they don't want just a list of features that the university offers but they want us to emphasize the benefits of those features," Severson said. "They wanted a greater emphasis on things like career development and they wanted us to center on student life here. We created a new search piece and redesigned some publications as a direct result of those focus groups."
In an effort to send a consistent message, the new search pieces and redesigned publications all have a similar look and this year emphasize the theme "All the Right Pieces."
The colorful materials provide basic information about UW-Eau Claire in a way that is appealing to high school students, showcasing the academic and social opportunities available at the university. UW-Eau Claire's display used at national college fairs also is being revamped, giving it a more appealing and colorful appearance in the hopes of attracting additional interest from high school students who might not otherwise seek them out, Severson said.
Follow up materials sent to those students who have shown an interest in UW-Eau Claire also are being revised, making them more personal, more attractive and more specific to the individuals' needs and interests. And Severson has been working with department chairs to update fact sheets about every major so prospective students get complete information about areas that interest them.
In addition, the office is working to expand its teleconferencing program that involves student ambassadors calling prospective students to let them know UW-Eau Claire is interested in them and to answer questions that could best be answered by a current student.
"This involves contacting mostly students who have shown an interest in UW-Eau Claire but who have not yet made a decision about which school to attend," Severson said. "We're expanding this personal contact by asking alumni to write follow-up letters to prospective students."
"The ideal recruit hasn't changed," GroeneWold said of whom UW-Eau Claire hopes to attract with its enhanced recruitment and retention strategy. "We have always tried to bring the most well prepared high school seniors here. We want the students with the best college prep courses and the highest ACT scores. We want students who will be successful here. We do well in bringing those students here but we want to increase the number of the best students we have even more.
"If we can match students with schools at which they will be successful, then they can hit the ground running when they arrive."
Bringing students to UW-Eau Claire who will likely succeed is the priority not simply increasing the number of applicants overall, GroeneWold said.
"Anything we do with recruitment affects retention and anything we do in the area of retention affects recruitment," Severson said of the importance of bringing students to UW-Eau Claire who have the best chance of succeeding.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: July 14, 1998