by Sarah Owen
When it comes to admissions, Millsaps is playing on a whole new field. Millsaps is fighting decline in student enrollment in more creative, student-oriented ways. Admissions has already accepted more than 500 students as of Nov. 1, 2013, compared to zero students as of the same time last year. Those potential students are starting to talk about Millsaps on social media like Twitter and Instagram, giving current students and faculty a new look into their experience.
“One of the things we’re already seeing is students putting their acceptance letters and scholarships on Facebook and Twitter. The excitement around that is strong evidence for the viral component,” John Sewell, director of marketing and communications, says. The communications and enrollment staff hope this will help steadily increase enrollment in the next five to 10 years as a part of the Strategic Plan.
This year, admissions is speeding up the process. Dr. Robert Alexander, vice president for enrollment and communications, says, “We have 1,382 applications this year. In years past, we had 800 applications at this point in the year.” He explains, “We’ve accelerated that pace by having more robust communication with the students already on our list.”
“Speed matters—there’s never been a more competitive environment for college recruitment and admissions,” Alexander says. To win, we have to compete by getting back to these students earlier and including their admission offer with scholarships right away. We want them to get excited about their scholarships and come to campus events, like Unlocking Millsaps—the largest open house in Millsaps history.”
Despite their work with current high school seniors, admissions is focusing for high school sophomores and juniors. “In order to increase numbers, we sort of back up the cycle. Before you apply, you have to be aware of Millsaps,” Alexander says. “We’re building a funnel starting with high school sophomores along with high school juniors and seniors. The end goal is to build relationships with high school sophomores.”
To help ensure quality students, Millsaps has also bought the rights to a list of potential students’ names based on their ACT scores and some high school surveys. “We buy names from regions nearby where we think we’ll get a good return on investment. We have employed email contacts to 64,000 new perspective students.” We’ll see these new perspective students, sophomores and juniors, in a year or two.
For current students, a larger incoming class will help stabilize tuition growth. “Larger incoming classes will help us constrain the percentage tuition increases each year. If class numbers continue to decline, the only way to capture revenue is to increase prices to students,” he says. “Even with growing enrollment base line costs like health care for employees and the cost of living continually go up. We have to keep up in order to retain talented people.”
So don’t go on a shopping spree just yet, but I would post a shout out to Mother Millsaps. #gomajors.