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Articles: Enrollment & Retention

Seniors line up by Sweet Briar’s library prior to commencement. (Photo: Photo by Andrew Locascio/Sweet Briar College)

While higher ed leaders acknowledge a range of challenges, many say the shutting down of the 532-student Virginia women’s college does not signal doom for small institutions, including those that are single-sex, rural or religiously affiliated.

“Excuses” campaign messaging appears on buses, a billboard, bar coasters and coffee sleeves, as well as on radio and the web.

Admissions marketing pros have heard a wide variety of reasons why prospective students don’t believe they can go—or go back—to college.

Park University in Missouri’s “Excuses” campaign, wrapping up this spring, takes an entertaining approach to breaking down access barriers. Promos poke fun at excuses that range from “no pens” and “no matching socks” to “you’re not much of a morning, afternoon or evening person” and “my thumb drive is full.”

Let there be light—and trees and plants: The walkway connecting University of Regina’s Riddell Centre, which contains the student union and the main food service hub, and the Education Building, home to four academic programs, is an inviting space with plenty of daylighting.

A brighter alternative to the pedestrian tunnel is a ground-level enclosed pedestrian street. It’s a concept that the University of Regina in Saskatchewan has taken to the extreme.

Nearly 100 percent of the main campus buildings are connected by these walkways, which form a figure-8-like loop.

This University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill history department building is named for former student, North Carolina secretary of state and Ku Klux Klan member William Saunders.

As high-profile racial incidents on college campuses make headlines across the country, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is grappling with controversy surrounding Saunders Hall.

The history building—named for former student, North Carolina secretary of state and Ku Klux Klan member William Saunders—has spurred petitions and demonstrations by students and faculty demanding a name change.

Susan Henking is president of Shimer College in Chicago.

In a “post-racial” and “post-feminist” America, do we still need colleges and universities that serve women? If most institutions now admit those previously excluded, isn’t the disappearance of women’s colleges and historically black colleges, oddly, a good thing? Not in my view.

Kent Runyon is executive director of the Novus Medical Detox Center in Florida.

The U.S. makes up 5 percent of the world’s population, yet it consumes 75 percent of the world’s prescription drugs. Additionally, 52 million people in the U.S. over the age of 12 have used prescription drugs non-medically in their lifetime. With these statistics working against us, it’s no surprise that prescription drugs are being used illegally on college campuses.

Westfield State University’s Upvote campaign encourages positive Yik Yak messages.

Nearly half of the approximately 500 respondents (48 percent) to a UB reader survey said bullying and insults posted on Yik Yak make the social network and its app a “serious threat.” Nearly the same number of respondents said the network is “benign” and called it a fad that would fade over the next year.

College and university administrators, already aware of their obligations to comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, (“Title IX”), are facing rapid changes and uncertainty in addressing the rights of transgender students. Though issues involving the rights of transgender students were rare as recently as a few years ago, it is likely that almost all post-secondary schools will need to accommodate the rights of transgender students in this decade.

American colleges and universities are becoming far more internationally focused. The rise in the number of foreign students on U.S. campuses is well-documented, with an 8 percent increase in foreign students seeking education at a U.S. college or university between the 2013-2014 school year alone, according to the Institute for International Education’s Open Doors report. Our higher education institutions are continuing to be recognized around the world for top-quality research and education.

Special delivery, 18th Century style: A student dressed as George Washington delivers acceptance letters to Washington College applicants in the region—proving that innovative doesn’t have to mean high-tech when it comes to admissions tactics.

There was a time when colleges and universities could put their best marketing message out to the masses, and wait for students to respond and express interest. Today, it’s about being aggressive without being pushy, being more student-focused without being intrusive, and being more open to digital communication without sacrificing authenticity.

Marc C. Whitt is a 32-year veteran of higher education public relations and marketing. You may follow or contact him @marcwhitt.

Few of us could imagine where we would be in our institutional branding efforts without the internet and its related marketing and public relations applications. These digital tools have become our “digital front doors,” granting us the ability to effectively and efficiently share content with those eager to learn more about us.

Jennifer Wick is vice president of Scannell & Kurz higher education enrollment consultants, a Ruffalo Cody company.

Fueled by government agendas, national press and public opinion, higher education has in recent years come under increased scrutiny in the form of calls for heightened transparency and accountability.

Some of the U.S. Department of Education’s initiatives in response include:

A preferred gender pronoun can be selected by University of Vermont students.

The University of Vermont allows its students to identify their own gender around campus, even if it’s no gender at all.

Though the policy has existed for nearly five years, it wasn’t until a February New York Times article that UVM received significant attention, says Dot Brauer, director of the LGBTQA Center@UVM.

“Nothing prepared us for this level of excitement,” says Brauer, who received several requests for interviews and advice from other higher ed institutions. “The feedback has been nothing but positive and encouraging.”

When you watched this year’s Super Bowl, did you notice the higher education corporate partnership messaging? We were all witness to a historic NFL football broadcast from the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Think back to other sporting events like National University’s 2014 Holiday Bowl game in San Diego and you’ll find there is no shortage of co-branding and advertising partners in higher education – in fact, we see it all the time.

As recently as 10 years ago, the campus website was not viewed as a legitimate source of marketing, nor was its upkeep considered the responsibility of communications professionals.