With the regular decision deadline for accepted students still a couple of weeks away, 40 percent of incoming first-years have already made Hobart and William Smith their first and only choice. Forty percent of the Classes of 2015 applied as part of the Early Decision process, the largest Early Decision enrollment at the Colleges in recent history; last year 30 percent of the classes enrolled Early Decision.
Bob Murphy, vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions at the Colleges, credits this increase to the development and implementation of a more personalized approach by the admissions staff and a recruitment message that stresses the sense of community at HWS.
“We took a simple, student-centered and personalized approach to admissions” explains Murphy.
What he and his staff did was put pen to paper, favoring personalized notes over typed messages. They called prospective students to make sure all their questions were answered and, in doing so, developed real relationships. They also enlisted the help of faculty in communicating to students about their specific areas of interest.
“Whether through specially designed open houses, interviews, events or just through casual interactions with prospective students, every single person on this campus is involved in the recruitment process, and every person contributes to its success,” says Murphy.
He also assigned recruitment officers in New York City, Baltimore and Boston. “We just got closer to the marketplace,” he says.
While the Colleges began these efforts during recruitment of the previous class, the Classes of 2014, their first wave of ultra-personalized efforts did not take shape until November of 2009, when the first Early Decision applications were due for that admissions cycle – with regular decision applications due only three months later.
This year, explains Director of Admissions John Young, a significant difference is in the Colleges’ ability “…to get a leg up and begin right away with the first impression. So many students are making the decisions earlier in the cycle, it’s important that we do those personalized things that much earlier, too.”
After building an early and strong first impression of the Colleges with this year’s prospective students, the admissions staff continued to communicate more directly and personally with them right through – and after – regular decision application deadlines. The office created more opportunities for direct interaction with prospective students. They increased the number of schools they visited, significantly increased the number of interviews they conducted, added Open House events, and saw close to a 50 percent increase in visits to campus with approximately 2,000 students coming to Geneva to tour the Colleges. With acceptance letters now in students’ hands, the admissions office continues to answer phone calls and host chats and four Monday Admitted Student Days on campus.
Looking at the Early Decision students and those from the regular deadline process who have already enrolled, Murphy says the Classes of 2015 are shaping up to be one of the most high caliber groups yet. He notes they “have higher GPAs than previous first-year classes and represent a larger multicultural class than their predecessors, with more international students already enrolled.”
The enrollment deadline for regular decision is May 1. Orientation will begin this year on August 26. More information is available on the Orientation website. http://www.hws.edu/orientation/