ARFAC Meeting Minutes 12 May 2005
Present: Arneson, Christensen, Jackson, Reese, Kyle, Erickson (student), Hellen (student), James Day (Hardwick-Day) and Carol Stack (Hardwick-Day)
*1. Hardwick-Day Summary Report* (Carol & James)
The committee heard a synopsis of the Enrollment Division assessment report carried out in March and April by Hardwick-Day and had an opportunity to pose questions to the representatives from Hardwick-Day. The main points of conversation and themes of the report are detailed below. Ultimately the report will help St. Olaf College position itself in the marketplace and produce positive impacts on relationships with potential students/parents, alumni/ae, corporations, foundations, and faculty recruiting, just to name a few.
The assessment report concluded that St. Olaf College has an excellent operation that simply needs to take advantage of opportunities for further improvement so it can more effectively meet future challenges. Suggested actions generally fell along four majors organizational themes.
*1a. Each year develop and implement a written, highly detailed enrollment strategy. *
The purpose of a written, annual strategy is multifaceted: a) it allows the division to move forward in the midst of personnel changes; b) it allows staff to take larger roles and responsibility for the enrollment strategy, it vests the staff in decision making, and it can be used in the evaluation of personnel; c) it allows the staff to understand the goals, relationships and messages necessary to carry out the strategy - it places everyone on the same page of the same book, including other college constituencies.
*1b. Specific tactical strategies for financial aid and admissions*.
The report urges careful examination of strategies that are best for St. Olaf College. One such example is in the way the college discusses it's cost to prospective students and their families. We should not be apologetic - be proud of what you've done and the educational opportunities you offer for the price. Use "investment" language and vision for the future.
*1c. Use of technology*.
The report suggests ways to use technological advances and resources in the decision making and communication processes. Databases in Financial Aid and Admissions can be used more effectively to drive decisions in these areas. The use of the internet as a means of communication with prospective students/families is a societal expectation, as is a high level of sophistication of the web site itself.
*1d. Alteration of culture/ethos.*
Perhaps the most important recommendation of the report is a cultural or philosophical repositioning of the enrollment enterprise into the overall ethos of the college. The college should move from a "selection" culture to a "recruiting" culture. Our applicant pool is not large enough to focus on "selecting" between students having the same academic credentials. By moving to a recruiting effort, you front-load the "selection" by encouraging students with desirable characteristics to apply. The enrollment program needs to be a coordinated, institutional effort emphasizing relationship building with the prospective student/family; the St. Olaf community must help expand the applicant pool while maintaining previous gains in the student profile. This process involves the creative and intentional use of faculty, staff and students to make good/strong contacts. In a nutshell, the personal attention embedded in the St. Olaf education/experience needs to be present in student recruitment.
*2. Agenda items for the 2005-2006 academic year.*
This year has brought a number of changes to the Enrollment Division. New leadership and the receipt of the Hardwick-Day report lead to multiple actionable opportunities for ARFAC in the coming year. Faculty knowledge of and support of the Enrollment Division at a policy level is extremely important as these dedicated men and women move enrollment efforts forward. The current committee members suggest the following actions for ARFAC.
a) Develop and implement ways to assist the Faculty in understanding WHAT the enrollment division is doing, and more importantly, WHY they are doing it. Effective communication of the ensuing changes in the Enrollment Division will be an important part of this endeavor. The faculty, as stakeholders, need to buy into the change to a personalized recruiting effort that broadly engages more folks in meaningful ways.
b) In consultation with the VP of Enrollment, take an active role in the development and assessment of the annual enrollment strategy.
c) Identify and take a lead role in helping to implement creative ways through which faculty can demonstrate to prospective students the excitement about what they (the faculty) do each day.
d) Generate ideas and assist with efforts to make the campus visit the "Capstone Recruiting Event" that helps differentiate us from the competition and works to meet the college's strategic plan.
* Increase the number of prospective students/families that visit and experience the campus.
* Get the right people as student hosts/campus tour guides.
* Provide opportunities for faculty to interact with student(s) visiting his/her class.
e) Additional/on-going topics for conversation....
What additional role(s) should ARFAC play in the future of Admissions and Financial Aid at St. Olaf? How do we more effectively engage faculty in the admissions and retention processes? How do we accomplish the goals of the strategic plan together?
Submitted by Paul Jackson