Missouri Western’s overall enrollment is down 3 percent, Paul Orscheln, Vice President for enrollment management and retention, said in a press release.
However, the number of new students, including freshmen and transfer students attending Western for the first time, has increased slightly.
To enhance this trend and increase overall enrollment, Orscheln, who has been employed at Western for six months, worked out a strategy involving enrollment management agency Royall & Company.
“Royall will function as an extension of our undergrad admissions staff,” Orscheln said.
A Royall & Company team consisting of about ten enrollment experts will help the university to “meet students where they are,” Orscheln said.
Part of this is the development of a new college application form that is optimized for mobile use. The team will also make an effort to contact parents of high school students directly.
The main focus, however, will lie on recruiting students earlier in their high school careers. Until now, only high school seniors have been sent information material about Western.
“We’ve been waiting too long,” Orscheln said.
From now on sophomore, junior and senior high school students will be sent information material.
“We will be continuously following up with the ones that indicate interest in Missouri Western,” Orscheln said.
Royall & Company will contact students on behalf of Western and support the process with their own enrollment related research.
Thanks to this research, Orscheln says that “[Admissions] staff can not only work harder, but also smarter.”
The team will make an effort not only to contact students earlier but also to contact more students.
Colleges can purchase the names of high school students to then contact them with information about the institution. Generally, Western bought about 20,000 names each year. With the help of Royall & Company, Western will purchase 60,000 names.
According to Orscheln, the admissions staff was lacking the resources to contact that many students.
“That’s why we hired Royall & Company.”
Orscheln has high hopes for this collaboration. Past numbers indicate a promising outlook.
Orscheln worked with Royall & Company at three different institutions before coming to Western and has seen the percentage of enrolled students “increase in the double digits” at every one of them.
This would end a series of enrollment decreases over the past years, with the biggest decrease being 7% last year.
If Royall & Company fulfills Western’s expectations there is the possibility to renew the currently one year-long contract.
“In my other experiences it always led to working together long term,” Orscheln said.
The hire costs Western $319,000. Orscheln would like to see this as “an investment, not an expense.”
With an enrollment increase of 60 new freshmen, Royall & Company would pay for itself. Orscheln is hoping for an increase of “a couple hundred new students.”
Equally important to recruiting new students is retaining them.
“We always have to focus on both. Neither is more important than the other,” Orscheln said.
Orscheln’s goal is to recruit “graduates to be” and therefore increase the retention rate.
“It’s all about recruiting the right students in the first place,” Orscheln said.
To appeal to high school students, Orscheln wants to focus on “telling the students our story” and getting the word out about what is already happening on campus.
Orscheln also wants to emphasize that almost all students are able to enroll.
“We give every student an opportunity and I’m very proud of that.”