INNOVATORS 2005: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Innovation: High Personal Touch with Recruitment and Admissions Technologies
Innovators: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
(CA) supports a campus-wide, student-centered
approach to the recruitment and admissions endeavor. Assistant VP for Admissions,
Recruitment, and Financial Aid James Maraviglia’s leadership is behind the vision
and development of various admissions and recruitment technologies at the campus.
The institution has built performance management strategies based on sound business
rules that allow them to serve more than 90 percent of their constituency electronically
as they utilize process innovation technologies to evaluate their efforts.
E-mail and the Web is the medium most students prefer for
communicating with Cal Poly SLO. The institution made a calculated and well thought-out
decision to enhance recruitment efforts by adopting this premise.
The primary objective is simple: Provide the capability for all campus departments
such as the president, provost, college deans, department chairs, Student Affairs
directors, student clubs, and the Admissions, Recruitment, and Financial Aid Office
to communicate directly with prospective students and applicants in a highly personalized
The institution has gained considerably on their competition by identifying
prospective students and then communicating with them through various e-mail
strategies. They import all prospective student names from all prospecting sources
and automatically create a dynamic VIP Web page for each individual prospect
based on individual attributes, which can then be updated on demand. Prospective
students are sent an e-mail that includes their user name and password with
which they can sign on to see their own dynamic information 24 hours a day;
seven days a week.
At any point time in the recruitment cycle, prospective students can be sent
various e-mail communications from the campus community promoting the university
and increasing the institution’s visibility. This allows Cal Poly SLO to expand
their pool of qualified prospects. As a result, e-mail messages are sent through
a prescribed flow of communication to potential, prospective, and accepted students
and their parents from faculty along with other messages important to the university
at each phase of the recruitment cycle.
The institution has access to data that can be used to make a definite distinction
between truly interested prospects and those prospects still sitting on the
fence, thus reducing costs and saving staff time and energy. This begins long
before a student actually starts the college application process. Because this
interactive communication plan continues throughout the recruitment cycle, newly
admitted students are more likely, when making a final decision, to pick a school
that has shown interest in helping them to personally achieve their goals.
Last year alone, the Admissions, Recruitment, and Financial Aid Office had
direct contact with more than 100,000 prospective students before any of those
prospects ever filed an application, through more than 300 individual touch-points
In fact, since 1994, this unit has had direct contact with more
than one million prospective students through tracked recruitment actions. (Greater
than 95 percent of new students had prior contact with the campus before filing
an application.) And since 1993, Cal Poly SLO has seen a 130 percent increase
in new undergraduate applicants with steady increases in the overall quality,
ethnicity, and geographic diversity of the applicant pool.
The school has been able to free up staff to support and expand efforts with
volunteers and also better collaborate with many groups across campus, including
the academic colleges, student clubs, University Advancement, and the Alumni
Relations Office to support the recruitment endeavor.
Reflecting success, the campus has hosted more than fifty universities who
were interested in adopting similar approaches for their recruitment and admission
Cal Poly SLO is continuing to develop various technologies
(having released a Digital Viewbook) and will continue to look at how new technologies
can further link the campus to its constituencies.
“It very important
to continue to understand the needs of your different audiences,” says James
Maraviglia. “This is one reason why we strongly recommend using focus groups
of prospective students, parents, and counselors to help you refine your efforts.”
Cal Poly SLO has built a survey tool set into their solution and will continue
to use survey results to drive future enhancements.
Related Links and References
Below are links to a case study featuring Cal Poly SLO’s initiative along with
several upcoming conferences that will highlight the project. Increasing Enrollment
and Retention via Technology conference http://www.innovativeeducators.org
Increasing Enrollment and Retention via Technology conference http://www.act.org/midwest/epc.html