At this time of year, most of the admissions news focuses on the acceptance and rejection letters that are landing in mailboxes across America. But there is also another admissions ritual under way that is not quite as well known. Selective universities are busy quietly wooing admitted applicants to try and persuade them to enroll. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that post-admission recruitment is taking on a new sense of urgency as enrollment outcomes have become more difficult to predict. Because of the economic uncertainty, small universities with high price tags are having to invest the most time and money in the “science of small gestures” in order to get a good yield.
“It’s more important than ever because the stakes are higher,” Robert J. Massa, Lafayette’s vice president for communications and acting dean of admissions and financial aid told the Chronicle. “College is more expensive, and there’s much more competition for students.” Lafayette, for example, is recruiting students with telephone calls, email messages, and campus events. This year, all accepted applicants have also received a follow up letter from distinguished Lafayette alumni inviting them to contact the sender personally if they have questions about the school. Current students are in on the act too. The admissions office has recruited students to make calls between 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. to about half of the admitted pool. Among them is Hamish MacPhail, a freshman who received a phone call of his own last spring. “I was already sold on Lafayette,” he says, “but the call just kind of backed up everything that I already felt about the place.”