Come What May 1: Insights from Waybetter Clients Who Hit Their May 1 Goals (Part 1, Gannon University and Hawai'i Pacific University)

This is the first post in a series. 

may calendar.jpg

Look, we'll be the first to tell you that far too much gets made of the May 1 deposit deadline in the higher ed enrollment world. But even schools for whom that day holds no official or binding meaning tend to use it as a benchmark—a useful indicator of how their class will eventually look. 

Now that we have a couple weeks' distance on it, we thought it might be useful (and fun) to reach out to Waybetter's partners and get their reflections  on their May 1 progress this yearWe also asked them to provide a little advice to their counterparts at other institutions. 

Today we're sharing insights from Tom Camillo, Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania and Greg Grauman, Vice President for Enrollment Management at Hawai'i Pacific University in Honolulu, Hawai'i.  

Check back for updates in the coming weeks from other Waybetter partners.

Gannon University (Erie, PA)

Tom Camillo, Director of Undergraduate Admissions

 

WB: Where was Gannon on May 1?

TC: We know we’re a long way from the finish line and achieving our goals, but May 1 certainly was a day to be proud of as we were 19% ahead of last year’s numbers. At this point we’re about 97% towards our goal with an opportunity to potentially have our highest incoming freshmen class in quite some time. Still a lot of work to do though!

WB: What one, two, or three things (efforts, strategies, adjustments, etc.) were most important to your success this year?

TC: I truly think our partnership with Waybetter is critical. We work well together, bounce ideas off each other, have no egos, and are willing to try things that make sense.

Most importantly though, we know who we are and you (Waybetter) get that and we make smart student search purchases and use creative messaging in reaching out to those students from that point forward.

From there, so much else has to take place that it’s nearly impossible to identify what’s more impactful because I think they all have an impact and are necessary to success (smart travel, continuous follow-up, personable and hard-working staff – customer service, the appropriate majors to attract students, facilities, location, engaged faculty, affordability and the right financial aid package, etc.).

All of these factors work together.

WB: What advice or tips would you give to your counterparts at schools who are struggling to turn the tide—or who didn't end up in a great place on May 1? Try to make these as specific and actionable as possible.

TC: Be open to opportunities and ideas and never rest on your laurels.

Even when things are going well, there are likely ways to make things better. This could be in the form of efficiencies, processing procedures, campus visits, communication flows, campus-wide partnerships and those random phone calls that come in droves this time of year that you may or may not be interested in but might make you start thinking.

Hawai'i Pacific University

Greg Grauman, Vice President for Enrollment Management

WB: Where was HPU on May 1?

GG: Our first-year deposits on May 1 were ahead 17% as compared to the same date last year.  We broadly categorize our first-student populations into three categories – Local (Hawaii & Pacific), Mainland, and International.  We saw growth in each of these populations, with the greatest growth (more than 60%) amongst our local students.  We anticipate our freshman class will grow by ~60 students this fall.

WB: What one, two, or three things (efforts, strategies, adjustments, etc.) were most important to your success this year? 

GG: One of the strategies most important to our success was our decision to increase need-based financial aid amongst both our local and mainland populations.  We committed to meeting 100% of tuition need for our local students, which made HPU a financial fit for many more students than in past enrollment cycles.

WB: What advice or tips would you give to your counterparts at schools who are struggling to turn the tide—or who didn't end up in a great place on May 1? Try to make these as specific and actionable as possible.

GG: Don’t be afraid of adding additional components to your application process – particularly if they can be added as options that students can submit after the submission of their application for admission.  The interest and intentionality a student exhibits by submitting a separate application (example, for an honors program, or a specialized scholarship opportunity) is very real, and can be measured by an increased conversion rate. Focusing more resources on these smaller subsets of the population during the period of conversion is worth the investment.

Also, meeting more financial need (over allocation of additional merit scholarship) will increase yield.  If you are in a position to neutralize the ability to pay as a factor in the decision process, it will provide the admitted student, from the time of admission, reason to consider you more seriously as finances won’t be a barrier preventing them from enrolling.

 

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