Admissions targets new audience

By BRIANA ENGLISH
englis[email protected]

While many colleges are seeing a large decrease in applications, Allegheny remains steady in its numbers.  However, the Office of Admissions is aware that this may change.
According to Dean of Enrollment Jennifer Winge, a likely decrease in the amount of high school graduates in upcoming years will make reaching out to potential students increasingly important.
The number of high school graduates in the northeast is predicted to decrease in the next 10 years, which will leave schools competing for students and could create a different mindset towards student recruitment, Winge said. With this in mind, admissions counselors are looking at new strategies to meet enrollment needs.
Admissions focuses on appealing to students who will be interested in and responsive to the college rather than trying to reach large numbers of students.  To find students who are a match for the college, Admissions personnel try to identify the students who would be most successful at Allegheny and then appeal to those kinds of students through advertising.
Admissions looks for students who challenge themselves in the classroom and are interested in a liberal arts education. This specification caused a decrease in the number of students on Admissions mailing lists by about 20 percent since last year, and, as Winge explains, this targeted group of students is one effective way of keeping application rates up.
“Resources are being spent much more wisely and it’s paying off,” she said.
A smaller number of students in the applicant pool means that more focus is put on each individual.   Territory managers, who handle recruitment within specific geographic regions, have more time to communicate with students on a customized level.
Although mailings and admissions tactics are effective, many students discover Allegheny through their own efforts. Stealth applicants, who Winge defines as students not identified by admissions personnel until their applications are received, make up a large portion of applications here.
These students don’t visit the school or visibly show an interest in attending Allegheny, but end up applying, often as their top choice.
Antonia Koch, ’14, notes online resources as a major reason why she toured Allegheny and eventually enrolled.
“Because I’m from Tennessee, I decided what schools to tour by going online and taking a virtual tour,” Koch said.
Online resources such as e-mail and electronic applications are also used by Allegheny and are helpful to students.
“The school emailed me the free leadership application and it was really easy to fill out, so that’s what I did,” said Jill Breit, ’14.
Increased national visibility is also helping to keep Allegheny’s application numbers up.  After being featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” the college gained national recognition.
Craig Ranallo, ’13, a student who works in for Admissions, and student tour guide Denise Jones, ’13, noted this book as being a reason students give for touring the campus.
“I would say it is the number one reason I hear from students,” Jones said.
Students consider many factors when choosing a college, but many note the importance of such books as tools.
“The fact that [Allegheny] was in “Colleges That Change Lives” alone didn’t necessarily make me want to come here, but because it was in there I knew it was a good school,” Breit said.
Students from many new locations have shown an increased interest in Allegheny. The school is working to meet the needs of these students, sending  counselors to areas like Nashville, Dallas, Denver and Los Angeles,  all areas that didn’t show high application rates in the past.
“The college is always trying to keep their eyes open to what is going on and to think critically about how they are marketing themselves,” Winge said.