Elmhurst College (Illinois)

Data-driven approach to admissions brings positive results

Data-driven approach to admissions brings positive results

Elmhurst College was ready for a fresh, data-driven perspective. The four-year, private college wanted effective and specific ways to increase enrollment for first-year and transfer students, to reduce its discount rate, and to increase net tuition revenue per student.

Elmhurst called on Ruffalo Noel Levitz (RNL) to design a functional search and application generation campaign that would not only increase the number of applicants, but would reach out to students who were statistically more likely to enroll using RNL Demand Builder and RNL Applicant Cultivator.

To help get the right message to the right students, a communication audit showed Elmhurst how to have fun while communicating effectively, shifting from an instructional tone to one more conducive to building relationships with students through email, direct mail, online, and in person. The college also changed the timing of its messaging, making sure that students were receiving information early and often.

New scholarships and a redistribution of financial aid resources helped control the discount rate. In addition, campus visit events were redesigned to draw on the experiences of current students and highlight specific areas of study.

The underpinnings for these changes were spelled out in the college’s first-ever written recruitment plan, which included territory management strategies and monthly goal-setting. Giving admission counselors specific goals for their defined recruitment territory allowed them to strategically focus on precise areas with a higher volume of students more likely to enroll.


Elmhurst’s efforts and receptivity to change helped accomplish a 26 percent increase in new transfer students (381 in 2016 vs. 302 in 2015), as well as a 2 percent increase in new first-year students (489 in 2016 vs. 479 in 2015). They also experienced a healthy increase in net revenue and a reduction in the discount rate.

Most importantly, the college saw a change in the culture of the Office of Admission to stress the value of Elmhurst College.


“It’s very satisfying to see the results and know that what you put into place worked. You make good, data-driven decisions and the results will come.”

Stephanie Levenson
Executive Director of Admissions

Case study published with the permission of Elmhurst College.

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