Targeted enrollment brochures are key components in OHIO's recruitment toolkit. They are designed by UCM and overseen by Undergraduate Admissions in conjunction with academic units.
A UCM staffer sat down with Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Craig Cornell and Assistant Vice Provost and Director of Undergraduate Admissions Candace Boeninger to talk about the pieces. In addition to sharing information, both Craig and Candace extended special kudos for the success of the brochures to the combined Undergraduate Admissions and UCM team of Breanne Sisler, Mary Reed, Emily Zarack, Ben Siegel, and Brian Stemen.
How did these pieces come about?
Cornell: One of the things that came from the evaluation of the strategic enrollment plan in 2009 was the need for targeted ways to recruit students into targeted programs. We had the colleges look at their capacity and it was clear we had capacity in certain areas but not all. We didn’t want to just recruit 100 more students, we wanted to recruit five more female engineers, two more journalism students etc. Internally, we jokingly refer to these as sponge pieces; we are filling the holes not just making the sponge bigger. We worked with UCM to develop a really neat piece that is able to specifically talk to students about unique pathways.
Boeninger: We know prospective students going through the college search process are looking for markers of differentiation. If multiple universities they are considering have similar academic programs what is it that makes one distinctive from the other? Very often it is the experiences of current students that can tell that story of distinctiveness best. Colleges and schools are the ones who have access to those great stories and the people that can tell them, whether that is current students, alumni, faculty members or employers.
This collaboration is not just between UCM and Admissions but with the colleges. Can you give us an insight into this collaboration?
Boeninger: When we started to assess the need for a targeted message we leveraged the total set of Undergraduate Admissions’ and UCM’s relationships with the colleges to bring everyone together. Admissions is the engine that provides project management, the audience and the communications channels, UCM provides the look and the feel and overall creative direction, and the academic units provides the really great stories we know students and families want to hear.
What role do these design pieces play in the larger targeted strategy of Enrollment Management?
Cornell: They are one step of the overall communication process. They are not designed to be standalone pieces.
Boeninger: As part of the project management process we provide a fair amount of education to faculty and staff in terms of what is possible from the central prospective, what is available from an audience perspective, the trends we are seeing in our applicant or prospective student pool, etc. A misconception, for example, is that if a female student inquiries into a particular academic program, say the Russ College, that that is their only interest; our data shows that they might also be interested in majoring in dance or French for example. What these pieces allow us to do is talk to students in a way that is relevant while still proffering the University message so that as their interests change and we fulfill their inquiries about that specific academic programs we keep them in the overarching communication plan so they receive the broader messages of the university as well.
How do you choose which targeted enrollment piece goes next?
Cornell: The admissions office and enrollment management work with the deans and departments throughout the year and this is a multi-level conversation of areas we are starting to think about or want focus on.
Boeninger: It is also part logistics. For example if we want to tell the story of a student doing an internship in New York we have a window of time to catch the photography and interviews, likewise with a faculty member who might be headed on sabbatical or an exchange experience abroad.
Have there been any surprises?
Boeninger: The energy the stories generate and the enthusiasm for what is possible in impacting a student’s decision. Once we start these conversations with the colleges, and share what we have seen work and not work the energy that the conversation creates is remarkable.