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Averett University (Virginia)

Averett University has reached record enrollment and considerably improved student retention with guidance from Noel-Levitz consultants.

New opportunities

Located in Danville, Virginia, Averett University (Averett) has historically struggled with enrolling students who persist through graduation. The university works with a less-than-affluent population of first generation students within a 100-mile radius of campus, trying to make it possible for those students to afford tuition and persist. However, they still struggle, particularly in the lower-ability level where retention has been as low as 25 percent. This challenge is perpetuated by the strong competition Averett faces in losing more academically qualified students to other private and public universities within the Commonwealth. Like many institutions, Averett has also wrestled with enrolling students not associated with their athletics programs, despite competing at the NCAA Division III level. New additions to campus leadership brought a strategic vision and plan along with new goals, which recharged the university to work toward increasing enrollment while incrementally increasing the academic profile of incoming students.

Forging a new path

Averett restructured its enrollment program around a shared vision for the university. This included gathering input from multiple departments and setting initiatives in historical feeder analysis, marketing, and improved admissions processes. Focusing on a more targeted search for students, they collected and analyzed enrollment data in primary, secondary, and tertiary markets, using the data to guide action steps and steer activities. As a step toward their goal of enrolling students with a stronger academic profile who have a greater capacity to pay and greater propensity to persist, the university implemented more campus visit days including a Scholarship Day for students with a minimum 3.0 GPA/1000 SAT. Through these ongoing strategies and initiatives, Averett has remained committed to meeting students’ needs while staying conscious of their discount rate.

Results

Averett has reached record enrollment three consecutive years as this initiative has become a campuswide effort among the admissions office, current students, faculty, staff, and coaches. The university has gained a new perspective on enrollment management: while it may cost more to attract and enroll academically strong students, they bring with them a higher ability to pay for college and a greater chance of persisting through graduation. Recruiting this “new” type of student doesn’t abandon Averett’s mission to prepare students for successful lives through personal attention; rather, the university has been able to spend more time with at risk students.

Since 2006:

  • FY enrollment has increased by 63 percent;
  • First to second year retention has increased by 19 percent;
  • FY NTFR (NACUBO) increased 70 percent;
  • FY overall NR increased 77 percent;
  • Following a sharp decline, academic profile has continued to increase each year; and
  • Yield has remained stable over the years.

Case study used with the permission of Averett University.

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