How Three Award-Winning Institutions Lead the Way on Enrollment and Student Success
For more than two decades, RNL has honored colleges and universities for their excellence in student recruitment and student success. In the 2000s, RNL began the Marketing-Recruitment Excellence Awards, given to institutions for their innovation and achievement in campus marketing and recruitment. And in 1989, RNL started the Retention Excellence Awards to honor institutions for their work in student retention and completion.
These awards have traditionally been given at the RNL National Conference, but since the conference was virtual this year, we instead gave out the awards during a dedicated webinar (that you can now watch on demand). Here were our winners:
- Marketing-Recruitment Excellence Award: Loyola University New Orleans
- Marketing-Recruitment Excellence Award: Louisiana State University
- Retention Excellence Award: Utica College
Three campuses that reflect three key values: Dynamic, Empowered, and Unified
The criteria for these awards were changed in a key way this year. We wanted to honor institutions that reflect the values that help us support colleges and universities in their mission:
- Dynamic: Being a catalyst for transformation and innovation that breaks new ground and make an impact.
- Empowered: Inspiring initiative through collaboration, transparency, accountability, and ownership.
- Unified: Working together across campus and with RNL to produce greater results for students and the institution.
Loyola University New Orleans: Enrollment and revenue growth in a difficult environment
Loyola University New Orleans was honored for exceeding their enrollment goal by 23 percent and their goal for net tuition revenue by 13 percent. They reached these goals through a data-driven approach to targeting students, using their financial aid in a more targeted and strategic fashion, and working closely with marketing to develop creative communications to prospective students.
According to Nathan Ament, vice president of enrollment management, being unified with RNL played a big role in their success. “I love that word partner and it really applies to the relationship we have with RNL. I have to give a shout out to Katherine Cooper and Kim Myrick at RNL. We’re on these calls with them every week and so I feel that we are working together to make sure that we’re all focused on the same goal and that we’re being innovative. That’s how we’re thinking every week.”
Nathan also explains that Loyola New Orleans recognized that it also had to innovate and adapt to meet students on their terms—their timelines, their channels, and their journey. “This generation of students is going to figure out when they want to do it on their timeline and at whatever time of day it is or whatever time of night. We’re not trying to back them into a corner and saying, you have to come for this open house or you have to go to this specific talk from this financial aid director or whatever it is. We’ve done a lot with on-demand video, a couple of different virtual tour options, lots of in-person things, smaller events.”
Louisiana State University: Increasing diversity as well as enrollment
LSU has created a personalized enrollment experience at their state flagship institution. The university has been data-oriented and also went to a test-optional policy in fall 2021. They also embraced virtual platforms quickly and adapted their communications and work schedules to address the changes brought about by the pandemic. These initiatives capped a five-year period where first-year student enrollment grew by 42 percent. LSU has also increased the diversity of the student body by 108 percent.
Dr. Jose Aviles is LSU’s vice president for enrollment and an enrollment veteran who has worked at several different types of institutions: private, public, and community college. While he says there is no one “secret” to enrollment success, data play a critical role in what they do and what the institution achieved. “I think that everywhere I’ve been and here specifically at LSU, we try to lay the foundation of our work in a way that is grounded in using data and being research informed so that we are consistently staying ahead of the trends, especially as we talk about the diversity work. We’ve increased the diversity of our student body by 108 percent at a place where the numbers aren’t small to start with. Our Pell low-income students have been a focus of our work as well—we’ve grown the Pell cell group by 82 percent in the last four years.”
This produces challenges that require an empowered and unified team to serve these students yet still meet revenue needs. “We have rich discussions about some real complex kinds of things that we’re confronted with, because ultimately when you’re putting together a class, you get into these situations where you start seeing how much and conflict some of these goals might be. How to navigate that tension takes a real skill. It means that you have to have a collection of people around you that are incredibly talented to do that.”
Utica College: Re-yield and re-enrollment plans that produced real success
Utica College already had a strong retention plan in place to help serve its students, many of whom are first-generation, commuters, or students who work full or part time. But the campus elevated its efforts even further by putting together a re-yield and re-enrollment communication plan for their current students to increase their retention and persistence. The college also implemented a number of student success measures such as virtual advising and an academic recovery program that saw 73 percent of the participating students increase their GPAs from fall to spring semester.
Dr. Jeffrey Gates, senior vice president for student life and enrollment management, describes how Utica’s unified approach to its advising structure revolutionized its approach to student success. “The care team that we’ve developed at Utica sets our advising structure apart. Every student, once they’re accepted and submit their enrollment deposit, is assigned their care team. That care team works with that student and they’re responsible for that student: for retention, for financial aid, for getting them acclimated to their faculty advisor and to their academic program. It is the center for student success where all of these functions are housed and the student has one place to go versus going from space to space, office to office, person to person.”
And Utica literally puts its money where its mouth is with an innovative approach to guaranteeing student success. “Last year we also instituted a four-year graduation guarantee. If it’s our fault, for some reason, through misadvising or inappropriate scheduling opportunities, we’re going to pay for that course past the fourth year. So we’re really taking into account the student experience starting out with that care team.”
Listen to these three campus leaders discuss their success…and talk to us about yours.
Watch our free on-demand webinar, Award Winning Enrollment and Retention Strategies, to hear many more details and discussion from these three campus leaders.
And reach out to our experts to set up a time to talk about how you can reach your goals with enrollment and student success. maybe you’ll be sharing your award-winning secrets with institutions from around the country in the coming years.
Talk with our experts about enrollment and student success
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