Archive for Monday, October 10, 2011

KU is making changes to the way it recruits, engages new students

October 10, 2011


Incoming Kansas University freshmen make their way toward the Campanile during the 14th-annual “Walk Up the Hill” Monday, Aug. 16, 2010.

Incoming Kansas University freshmen make their way toward the Campanile during the 14th-annual “Walk Up the Hill” Monday, Aug. 16, 2010.

Talk to high school seniors about what’s important when considering which college to attend and you’ll get varied answers.

“I want to know how the average freshman would feel,” said Dylan Orth, a senior at Lawrence High School. “I think what stands out the most is the town that these colleges are in and the campus.”

Others like to know colleges are paying attention to them.

“The more times I see them in my inbox, it makes me feel like I’m important to them,” said Madison Easley, an LHS senior who’s considering staying in-state.

Facing three years of declining enrollments, Kansas University is making changes in the way it recruits to try to engage with a new pool of students on a personal level. KU leaders say they’re expanding the numbers of potential students they’re trying to reach, focusing more on students with solid high school GPAs but test scores outside the upper echelon and further personalizing their approach.

Matt Melvin, KU’s vice provost for enrollment management, has been at KU for a year now after coming from the University of Central Missouri. He’s led new enrollment initiatives, including a strategic use of data. KU is purchasing many more names (and corresponding data) from standardized test companies.

He and other KU officials are looking to increase the number of students who request information from KU. That figure is up about 20 percent from a year ago.

At KU, a lot of personal attention had been placed on students with a 26 and above ACT score, Melvin said. The emphasis of the previous chancellor was on recruiting National Merit Scholars, he said.

“What I want to do is try to identify, based on data, students that can be successful at KU,” he said.

That may mean more attention placed on students with an ACT score of 23 or 24, but bolstered with strong high school grades. Given a choice between two students —one with a 28 ACT and a 2.2 GPA and another with a 24 ACT and a 3.2 GPA, Melvin didn’t hesitate.

“I’ll take the 24 and 3.2 every day and twice on Tuesday,” he said. Those students, he added, often don’t just succeed academically at KU, they become the most engaged with the school. “They’re the ones that make KU a special place.”

Still, some students with 18 or 19 ACT scores won’t be recruited as heavily, Melvin said, as those students tend not to do well at KU.

“What I don’t want to do is change a recruiting problem into a retention problem,” Melvin said.

Melvin said KU also needed to tell students how, as the flagship public institution of the state and a member of the Association of American Universities, it differentiates itself from other higher education options in the state.

“If the perception of quality is the same, people will defer to cost every time,” he said. “Cost is a horrible market to be competing on, because someone will always be cheaper than us.”

As KU looks to personalize its recruiting efforts, it can build on what it’s already doing, said Heidi Simon, KU’s associate director of admissions who oversees freshman recruitment.

She works with 15 recruitment coordinators who oversee different geographic territories. The phone calls, the handwritten notes, the emails, they’ve already been doing that, and the coordinators are out in their territories working night and day to make contact with students.

Melvin, she said, has been supportive of their efforts, and has helped make changes like expanding KU’s scholarship offerings for freshmen — something KU’s recruiters had been asking for after they heard it on the road. Students must apply by Nov. 1 to be considered for scholarships, and the process is easier this year, after KU eliminated the scholarship essay requirement.

“(Melvin) saw how hard we were working,” she said. “We just didn’t have the right resources to make it happen.”


demonfury 2 years, 6 months ago

"Facing three years of declining enrollments, Kansas University is making changes in the way it recruits to try to engage with a new pool of students on a personal level. KU leaders say they’re expanding the numbers of potential students they’re trying to reach, focusing more on students with solid high school GPAs but test scores outside the upper echelon and further personalizing their approach."

The major problem with this approach is that KU has moved into a new "dumb down" paradigm over the last several years to compensate for the declining #'s. KU is most interested in two things, your cash and your level of diversity. They have made several major changes to prove this and those decisions are proving to be very poor ones, hence the declining trend. Students with 24+ ACT scores and 3.2+ GPA's aren't going to KU anymore unless they want to stay "home". Like a poster said above, I too have an LHS student with a 30 ACT and a 3.85 GPA and he has offers from a dozen colleges far superior to KU. KU needs to make some serious personnel changes from the top down. Hiring the new chancellor was a HUGE mistake. Hiring the Football coach was a MONUMENTAL mistake. Serious changes have to be made and made quickly or this trend will spiral out of control.


Oldsoul 2 years, 6 months ago

Love that euphemism-- focusing on students whose test scores are outside the upper echelon. Don't worry about the brainiacs in Lawrence or KS lighting lamps for anyone. What they mean by "helping" is much less inspiring and far more inappropriate, intrusive, and demeaning.


Lawrence Morgan 2 years, 6 months ago

Part of the problem is that the courses they teach are not what people want, and they are at too high a price. LHS56 also made a great point. From what I have seen, many KU professors are not even involved in the community at all. They are very aloof. That's got to change if KU is going to move ahead instead of fall further behind. The day of the professor in the ivory tower has got to change. Also, KU needs to work with other colleges and community colleges throughout the state, instead of trying to compete with them.


Scott Morgan 2 years, 6 months ago

scarletbhound, This is exactly what I speak of. Somehow, somewhere the myth KU was a Harvard Ivy League type school lives on. Never was, never will be. Nor should KU be anything but a fine Midwestern public university. Why would I as a young student wish to step into this mess?

Should I go there? Why? Think like an 18 year old. Just think like an 18 year old with a choice between KU and K State.

While other university cities were flying by Lawrence, we argue about whether Olive Garden should be enticed to open. Hey folks, Manhattan has 6 commercial flights a day zooming in, Lawrence can’t figure out how to make a highway through old farmland. Manhattan has the best in nation college bar, we have old hairy hippies passing gas while sitting outside Free State Brewery. Seemingly all day.

Emporia State has new exciting employable majors already up and running. A prospective student sees nothing but stagnation when researching KU.


LJ Whirled 2 years, 6 months ago

Our house has a senior with a 30 ACT and a 3.8 GPA who will not even consider KU. Attitude.


scarletbhound 2 years, 6 months ago

Let's be honest. KU is dumbing down to keep enrolment numbers up. It has a pathetic general education program to ensure that the weak performers stay in school rather than be forced to take the kind of subjects -- serious history, literature, science -- that I took decades ago. KU used to have an outstanding reputation for academic quality, deserving the claim as the Harvard of the Midwest. That image is long gone, sacrificed to a numbers, tuition dollars game. Sadly, KU is becoming little more than an overgrown community college, promoting trade school curricula -- i.e. education, journalism, social work -- rather than quality academics to ensure that they can keep the morons who have no business in higher education.


toe 2 years, 6 months ago

Expecting students to be ready for college would be a better idea. Raise tuition by 50%, give scholarships to those that are ready. Problem solved. Few quality students trumps hoards of under-performers.


writeon 2 years, 6 months ago

KSUcks only attracts mediocre students. That's why I ask students to look at who they know who goes to the Little Prairieapple. They will do ANYTHING to get people to go there. And that's why they're so parochial. KU doesn't need to be tied to or hindered by KSU, in any way, period. Once they win anything like a first national championship in ANYTHIING, maybe we'll talk. Until then, they're still the PRETENDERS. In NO WAY does KSUcks compare to KU, and that's a fact, Bub.


Hammertoe 2 years, 6 months ago

Record Enrollment at Kansas State for the third straight year.

1 college choice for Kansas High School students..K-State



jayhawk0105 2 years, 6 months ago

A few thoughts: KeithMiles05-- KU has been recruiting areas west of Topeka for YEARS, and still does. The LJWorld covers it (note: Rock Chalk Roadshow... check the archives). Also, KU visits many of the high schools and attends college fairs in the area. There's not an extension office in every county.... that's what the agricultural/land grant college is charged with. It would be interesting to hear a personal expereince about not being recruited and if any of that had to do with personal/geographical biases of the individual. In addition, KU now has a representative based in Garden City (again, check the archives and has had the position for over 2 years. It is hard to recruit in areas that are resistant to the University. Biases are strong and trickle down from educational gatekeepers (read alumni from other colleges and KSU grads in areas west of Topeka).

Increasing admissions standards will make a big difference. The list of schools from thinkinganalytically are all schools that have admissions requirements that probabaly wouldn't allow for a student with a 17 ACT and 2.5 GPA to be admitted. These students are not successful at KU, hurt KU's selectivity when admitted, hurt retention rates when they don't stay, and ultimately hurt KU's rankings in national publications, hence the preception of higher quality.

Negative pushback towards recruiting overshadows the actual changes that are being made (new schoalrships) and efforts that have been in place FOR YEARS... special events, visits in KS high schools, personalized touches, etc. Until these negative biases are stopped from being presented as fact (read KeithMIles05), there will always be a negative connotation with KU recruting. Alumni and KU stakeholders can only help improve this.


thinkinganalytically 2 years, 6 months ago

The argument based on quality is key to KU's success. KU has a cost advantage over top state institutions (public schools in the top 25 of USNWR ratings) in the general region:

University of Kansas: in state $21,802, out of state $35,188

University of Michigan: in state $25,204, out of state $50,352 University of Wisconsin: in state $22,542, out of state $39,201 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: in state $28,204, out of state $42, 346 University of Texas at Austin: in state $23,596, out of state $35,776 Ohio State University: in state $19,926, out of state $34,974 Texas A&M: in state $20,782, out of state: $36,672

Students and families are willing to pay the higher costs of attending those institutions because they are perceived to be of higher quality.


Steve Bunch 2 years, 6 months ago

By giving more weight to high school GPAs, KU will be buying into the grade inflation that has permeated secondary schools, where every student is above average.


yourworstnightmare 2 years, 6 months ago

I agree that KU will always lose if cost is the only marker in the competition.

KU needs to increase entry standards and set the bar high as the flagship research AAU university in the state, and make it understood that KU's product is worth the cost.

Many will never be swayed by arguments based on quality, but KU really wants those who can be and maybe doesn't want those who can't be.

KU needs to make itself synonymous with excellence, and higher admissions standards coupled with aggressive recruiting of the best students is where to start.


LogicMan 2 years, 6 months ago

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

Which KU programs are turning away applicants (denying admission), and why? Then what's needed to address those reasons?

For example if it is a problem of lacking a math course or something, require the applicant to take it at a community college over the summer before arriving at KU.

Or if it is a minor lack of resources then provide the program with it. Hit up the state and alums for any major need for resources.


LJD230 2 years, 6 months ago

Hopefully this new "mindset" will encompass recruiting on both coasts,. Perhaps Bill Self might consider conducting a seminar entitled Recruiting 101.


del888 2 years, 6 months ago

Declining enrollment is directly related to the rising cost of tuition. I'm beting that Johson County, Neosho County, KCK community college, etc are seeing an increase in enrollment. People are finding out that it is much cheaper to spend the first 2 years at a community college, then later transfer to a major college to get the degree.


writeon 2 years, 6 months ago

B.S., dude, no matter how "really said," as you put it. KU is all over the other schools in this region, and that includes Colorado; Okie Homo don't count. KSU recruits kids by making them "feel good," mainly because they otherwise know they're going to a cesspool in conservative 'Merica. Neither K-Sucks or WSU are ranked meaningfully in anything. Get over your bitter until K-Sucks wins a national title at anything, other than that wimmins' stretch-jeans thing a couple of years ago.


KEITHMILES05 2 years, 6 months ago

It is really said it has taken 3 years of declining enrollemnt for KU to get the proper mindset. For years and years they have neglected pretty much anything west of Topeka and Wichita. It'll take years to win over the majority of the state geographically to consider KU. I know this from personal experience.


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