Stephens has seen a positive change in the number of students enrolled this fall. This year’s number of entering freshmen has increased from the previous year, which had a significantly lower number of new students. This was partially due to the number of high school graduates decreasing, and reaching out to students took place late in the school year.
To make up for the low numbers last fall, Stephens came up with a stronger marketing and communication plan. The admissions and marketing offices collaborated to devise new strategies, working on- and offline to generate more interest and connect with more prospective students.
Timing was a vital part of the plan. Last year, the admissions office worked two months ahead of the previous year’s schedule, and they used different tools that included face-to-face and online interaction.
The simplest and most cost effective step was to increase Stephens’ social media presence. The college’s different social networking sites were updated and posts were maintained regularly. Director of marketing and communications Rebecca Kline explained that they “ramped up” Stephens’ online image, which resulted in more online interest and followers.
This made communication with students more interactive and was an effective method of outreach. Phone calls and emails were directed to high school seniors, too. This correspondence started in the summer of 2012 for 2013 graduates.
Admissions counselors also traveled to high schools to deliver packets and attend college fairs.
In November 2012 Stephens held its annual scholars weekend, inviting qualified high school seniors to compete for scholarships. It was a success with prospective students, and Stephens is hosting it again this November.
Another part of the new marketing and communication plan included placing advertisements in college magazines and local and online publications. The school also sponsored events to promote its name within the community.
After the success of their outreach plan last year, the admissions and marketing offices have learned what works. They are repeating what they did last year, as well as adding a few new strategies.
The admissions office has also begun using Spectrum, a new database management communication software. Suzanne Sharp, vice president of strategic enrollment management, said that it brings “a lot more personalization into the communication plan.” The software customizes interests for each prospective student so the school can know specifically what information to distribute.
Stephens College is currently undergoing a new branding change. The college is working with branding experts, focus groups and the current staff to redesign a new image for itself. The change will come into effect just in time for the entering class of 2014.
Story by junior Emily Marchant