Sep 24, 2019
Humboldt State is rolling out a number of new ideas and programs to increase enrollment at the University.
These efforts—which utilize data, new technology, trainings, investments, and more—are intended to boost recruitment and retention by identifying and removing barriers that prospective students face.
Over the last several years, the University has seen enrollment decline due to a number of factors, including successful efforts to help students graduate more quickly that led to the University’s highest ever four- and six-year graduation rates. This decline has led to budget shortfalls and other impacts for campus and the local community.
Under new leadership by Jason Meriwether, Interim VP for Enrollment Management, and Peter Martinez, Director of Admissions, a number of changes have taken place. The efforts have already paid off, with spring semester applications slightly higher than they were this time last year. Martinez hopes the trend continues.
Those efforts include:
• Renewing attention to local recruitment. Meriwether, Martinez, and regional Admissions Counselor Leo Canez have been visiting extensively with local high school students and administrators, and have launched a pilot dual enrollment program, where local students can take classes at their high school and HSU. “It expands their minds and lets them understand what life on campus is like,” Martinez says.
• Using data wisely. Utilizing the information that HSU’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness collects is an important existing resource to identify the types of students who come to HSU.
• Utilizing technology. New recruitment tools allow the University to digitally target prospective students on the online platforms they use and where they research and express interest in colleges.
• Chatting with the bot. Humbot, an AI text-messaging software that directs students to resources, answers their questions, and helps them connect to the campus, was launched this year. Read more about Humbot.
• Hitting the road. Regional admissions counselors have returned to the Fresno and Los Angeles areas. “It’s a big deal to be where students are at, all over California,” Martinez says. “Recruiters build a rapport with students and influencers like high school counselors.”
• Hitting the books. More training and experience for counselors means they better understand the University. For example, a recent training had counselors attend place-based learning community activities, so they can describe what first-year students experience in those programs.
• Getting ready for college. Counselors have the ability to look at the transcripts of students midway through their senior year of high school, and advise them how to adjust their habits to pass with the grades and requirements they need to be eligible for HSU and certain academic programs.
• The Lumberjack experience. Admissions is dedicating funds to redesign the visit experience and space on the first floor of the Student Business Services Building, where many prospective students and their families first set foot on campus. “We want them to feel like Lumberjacks from day one,” Martinez says.
• Making it more affordable. Many fees—including for Preview Day registration—have been removed to make it more affordable for prospective students and their families to visit HSU. They hope to increase the number of spring visits and bus tours each year. Read about the elimination of Preview Day fees.
• Connecting with community colleges. Martinez is reaching out to community colleges across the state and partnering with their faculty to help students learn about HSU and prepare them to transfer successfully.
• Financial aid. New students will have earlier access to apply for scholarships, and will be notified of their financial aid eligibility earlier. Additional money is being invested in academic scholarships.