TNU admissions under pressure to recruit more students

admissionsBy Maci Shingleton and Christy Ulmet

It isn’t unusual for Trevecca’s admissions counselors to have 12-hour workdays. They spend 25 hours or more a week of their time at work getting in contact with potential applicants. And in the world of recruiting, their job never stops.

The university’s six full-time admissions counselors are under pressure with the university’s budget cuts, recruiting strategy changes and department restructuring.

The announcement of a $1.2 million budget cut for Trevecca put a spotlight on the university’s sales team. Ultimately, the admissions department is what sells the university to potential students, said Holly Whitby, the new associate provost and dean of enrollment.

Because Trevecca is a tuition-driven school, the admissions team has a big responsibility in pushing to get more applicants. The university has been hovering in the 250-260 range for yearly enrollment for awhile, and Dan Boone, the university’s president, has a goal of 300 for the future.

This isn’t a new goal though, according to Whitby.

“Dan was pushing for 300 way before the budget cuts. It’s been the goal for three or four years,” said Whitby.

The goal has nothing to do with budget cuts, but it’s where Trevecca needs to be as a university, she said.

There have been many changes to the structure of the department that have come from the enrollment goal.

Beginning with the next enrollment year, admissions counselors will no longer have specific geographical districts within the eight states served by the Trevecca region. Each admissions counselor will be assigned to focus on either the Nazarene demographic, the non-Nazarene demographic, or transfer students.

“What I’m trying to do is get them laser-focused, and create more focused markets. It’s also going to give us efficiency in marketing,” said Whitby.

The marketing department is partnering with admissions in the restructuring to help sell the university to potential students.

One of the main stressors, Whitby said, is the academic competition. Governor Bill Haslam just unveiled a proposal to provide free two-year community college in the state of Tennessee, calling it the Tennessee Promise plan. The proposal received an enormous endorsement of state lawmakers, passing the House of Representatives on an 87-8 vote on April 15. Whitby fears that this might deter potential students from pursuing four-year college plans.

Though the Tennessee Promise plan may be attractive to prospective students, Trevecca has two powerhouse recruiting tools: location and relationship.

Nashville ranks number four on Forbes’ most current list of best United States cities to live in. Trevecca’s marketing department recently rolled out a new video that has nearly 25,000 views on social media called Experience Trevecca. The video features numerous shots of campus in proportion to the Nashville skyline so viewers can see just how close the school is to the city; this is intentional.

Trevecca’s strong emphasis on relationships has always been a recruiting tool for the admissions team.

One of Trevecca’s central core values is relationship, and that permeates all departments, including the admissions department. That begins with the relationship admissions counselors build with the prospective students, said Greg Steward, admissions counselor.

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