Last year, enrollment numbers were low across the board, and only 43 prospective students who qualified for Scholars Weekend attended.
This year, Suzanne Sharp, Vice President of Strategic Enrollment Management, and Tiffany Goalder, Campus Visit and Event Coordinator, worked for months to make Scholars Weekend the best it’s ever been.
In previous years, Scholars Weekend has been held after winter break, but this year’s got bumped up to the beginning of November.
“Prospective students looking for full tuition scholarships are typically early seekers,” Sharp said. Sharp and Goalder felt it was important for Stephens to focus on recruiting bright students before they choose to attend another school.
For a student to be invited to Scholars Weekend, they must have applied and have been accepted to Stephens, with a 3.5 cumulative GPA and a score of at least a 25 on the American College Testing or 1700 on the Standardized Assement Test.
The Admissions office sent out six times the amount of Scholars Weekend invitation emails than they have in previous years, targeting high school students across the country who met the Scholars Weekend qualifications.
“The real challenge is getting (prospective students) to fill out and turn in their application packets,” Goalder said. They hope that a full tuition scholarship competition will encourage students to attend Stephens.
There are three parts to the scholarship competition. First, students must submit a preliminary essay before attending Scholars Weekend. Once they arrive on campus, two faculty members interview them and they write a second essay.
Prospective students from across the country, 65 in all, will attend Scholars Weekend this year, and compete for three scholarships for full tuition and three that cover 75 percent of tuition. For some of these women, the scholarships could be the deciding factor, but for others, simply getting them on campus will help make their decision.
On top of the competition, Stephens awarded each attendee an extra $1,000 to their current merit award just for visiting campus and participating in the special weekend.
“We’re using the scholarships as a recruitment tool,” Sharp said. In the past, prospective students have been surprised by the $1,000 boost after they have arrived for Scholars Weekend. Sharp said that’s a missed opportunity and one they hope to address by being clearer about the financial benefits of the visit.
Sharp and Goalder are also changing the overall flow of the weekend to better suit the needs of the women attending. The interview portion of the competition takes place on Friday evening, so many women dress professionally.
In past years, a campus tour and other events occured on Friday evening, which meant women in nice clothes and high heels had to walk all over campus.
“This year, the events that take place on Friday will all be centrally located in Stamper Commons and Lela Raney Wood Hall,” Goalder said. The campus tour took place on Saturday after the essay portion of the competition.
A few other additions were also made to the weekend. On Friday evening, prospective students had the chance to talk with some Stephens alumnae and see how Stephens will benefit them after graduation. They also attended a student panel Saturday morning where prospective students asked current students anything they want to know.
The admissions office is taking a step in the right direction when it comes to recruiting, and Admissions hopes the enrollment grows.