Increased regional competition has made achieving the same enrollment goals more difficult every year. In Texas, unlike other parts of the country, liberal arts colleges compete for students not only with each other, but with state universities—most notably, the University of Texas and Texas A&M—with excellent academic reputations, national followings, and lower costs. In addition, the rapidly growing K-12 population of Texas has caught the attention of out-of-state universities and colleges. Texas has moved from being a leading state in not exporting students to a prized recruitment area for resident recruiters from out-of-state universities. If we are to increase applications and selectivity, we must invest more resources into developing key Texas (Houston and perhaps other cities) and out-of-state markets (potentially California, Chicago, the mid-Atlantic region, and the Northeast). Proposed recruitment activities include fall and spring high school visits, college fairs, interviews, receptions, high school counselor breakfasts, and independent counselor luncheons.
Trinity has made significant enrollment progress over the past two years. The admissions and enrollment division has completed an organizational restructuring which better positions the institution for future success. Additionally, the Office of Admissions has improved its operational and technological infrastructure by transitioning to a different Customer Relations Module (CRM) called Slate, developed an aggressive and data-driven search and fulfillment strategy to build a robust applicant pool, and established key partnerships both internally and externally. In partnership with the Office of University Marketing and Communications, the Office of Admissions continue to deliver and coordinate efforts that broaden the admissions funnel and increase the number of pathways that qualified students use to enroll at Trinity.
From 2015 to 2016, Trinity increased first-year applications 30 percent (5,563 to 7,255), decreased the acceptance rate 7 percent (48 percent to 41 percent), increased the quality of the incoming class as measured by grade point average and standardized test scores, and enrolled one of the largest and strongest first-year classes in University history. While the numbers are still tentative, the University continues to make significant progress. From 2016 to 2017, as of July 14, 2017, Trinity increased first-year applications 5.6 percent (7,248 to 7,653) and decreased the acceptance rate 3 percent (41 percent to 38 percent).
Trinity is engaging families and students in new and meaningful ways – both in Texas and across the United States, dedicating significant resources, energy, and creativity toward additional admissions recruitment outside of Texas to include multiple annual counselor fly-in programs, junior recruitment during the spring, college fairs, interviews, receptions, high school counselor breakfasts, and independent counselor luncheons.
At Trinity University, individualized attention begins in the recruitment phase. In addition to campus counselors, Trinity Admissions has placed full-time regional representatives in California, Houston, and the Dallas and Fort Worth (DFW) metroplex.
“Because regional representatives live in their recruitment territory, it allows them to spend more time with prospective students, families, and high school counselors in-person,” said Eric Maloof, vice president for Enrollment Management at Trinity.” In an ultra-competitive admissions marketplace, this personal touch oftentimes makes the difference.”
In the Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth areas, two Texas metros well-known for their competitive recruiting environments, regional positions were necessary for retaining market share in areas with reputable high schools and high achieving students. Those positions are filled by Gail Roberson, director of admissions for Houston recruitment, and Brad Durchslag ’99, associate director for Dallas/Fort Worth Recruitment, who have been in their positions since 2013 and 2012, respectively. The combination of full-time recruiters both on-campus and regionally has helped Trinity maintain its position in these highly competitive markets.
A full-time presence in their markets means Roberson and Durchslag offer more recruiting opportunities such as college fairs, panels and presentations, one-on-one interviews, and high school visits. For example, Roberson says, Trinity interviewed more than 100 students this summer in Houston, a number they couldn’t have obtained before the implementing these dedicated regional positions.
Roberson and Durchslag’s efforts are paying off. Applications from Texas students increased 11 percent compared to last year, with growth in each of Texas’s top four metropolitan areas: San Antonio, DFW, Houston, and Austin. Applications increased the most—20 percent—in the DFW metroplex, where Trinity paired Durchslag’s efforts with a comprehensive marketing campaign.