Tag Archives: new students

Restrating the recruitment cycle

15 Aug

The new students at Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) will be moving into their dorm rooms tomorrow. We’ve already welcomed the new classes at LMU-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine and LMU-Duncan School of Law and the Inaugural Class of the LMU-College of Veterinary Medicine will conclude orientation activities today with the White Coat Ceremony. While these are all signs that summer is over and the fall semester is upon us, it also means it’s time to restart our recruiting engines.

For undergraduate students in the Class of 2018 the first lecture hasn’t been delivered, yet there is a group of staff on campus that is already looking to recruit the Class of 2019. That is not to say they aren’t worried about the experience of our current students, it’s just that their jobs require a great deal of looking ahead and planning for the future. And I am a member of that group. Actually, I kind of straddle all groups on campus because I have to look forward, look back, look around and do all I can to get the LMU name and brand out.

So, as our new students are moving into the residence halls this weekend, I will be pushing out the newest marketing campaign for LMU. It’s actually not an entirely new campaign, as we are continuing with the “Career Path” message and theme, but it is a brand new treatment starting with a new TV commercial. This time around we enlisted the support of a creative agency in conceiving a concept and producing the spot. I have been meeting with JAO Productions since early spring, discussing what makes LMU special and how to tell its story in 30 seconds.

For the past three years our commercial spots have been a series of “I am …” spots that highlighted the many career paths at LMU. It all started with “I am a nurse,” and included “I am a teacher,” “I am a business leader,” “I am a veterinary technician,” “I am a lawyer,” “I am an osteopathic physician” and “I am a physician assistant.” Once all the different spots were created and airing, we mashed them up for an “I am LMU” spot. It has been two years since we shot a new commercial and three since we had introduced a new campaign. Something new was overdue.

During our discussions, we focused on what makes LMU stand out from other colleges – its connection to Abraham Lincoln. This was a point the LMU administration really wanted to see emphasized. There were a couple challenges with the execution of this. The first was how to make a historical figure exciting to our primary demographic group of potential undergraduate students (16-18 year olds). The other side to that problem was treating Mr. Lincoln, his image, likeness and legacy, with respect.

No longer simply the 16th president of the United States, Lincoln has become a pop icon being featured in movies, tv shows and books from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and in commercials for everything from Geico Insurance to Mountain Dew. He is synonymous with the traits his legacy has touted including honesty, perseverance and loyalty. We wanted to find a way with making the connection without making Lincoln a joke or too serious. It was a fine line to walk.

It took a visit to campus and the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum for all the pieces to click into the concept we ultimately went with. LMU was founded on the principals Abraham Lincoln lived by. Our graduates become a part of his legacy. This is a point of pride for us. However, we recognize that most high school students aren’t worried about their legacy, let alone a President long gone with no living director ancestors. Ultimately what clicked with the creative team was LMU is not for everyone and every student isn’t cut out for LMU. From there, JAO Pro developed a script and we went to work arranging a shoot.

One of challenges with the final script was that it would call for a large cast with lots of extras. Always looking to be a good steward of the budget, I wanted to keep costs as low as possible, so we reached out to area high school students, faculty and staff and incoming students to serve as “extras” for the shoot. We ended up with around 30 volunteers (Thank You!), a couple of folks drafted the day of the shoot (myself included) and two paid actors in the cast. The volunteers were bribed with t-shirts and home baked cookies. The end result is a beautiful spot that I feel hits just the tone we were looking for. Check it out and look for it on a TV near you soon!


 

 

 

 

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The Student Series

7 Aug

Summer on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University is coming to a close. In the last three weeks we have welcomed new students in the LMU-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine, LMU-Duncan School of Law and Caylor School of Nursing. Next week brings Faculty/Staff Conference Week which culminates with New Student Survival Week.

It’s hard to believe that it has been three months since the Class of 2012 crossed the stage at Tex Turner Arena, but alas, time flies. It was roughly same time as graduation when I was invited to join a group that was working on recruiting more students for fall. You see, though our retention efforts were on pace to make up any shortfall, our new student projections for this fall were lacking. After nearly 10 years of record breaking enrollments, LMU had reached a plateau.

You can point the finger in many directions as to why our new student numbers were down. There is the economy, the intimidating notion of college or simply the fear of not fitting in. Another factor in LMU’s new student short fall was the strides the University was taking to increase admissions standards and enhance its academic rigor.

So roughly three months ago, I was invited to join that committee to brainstorm on what things we could do to finish the recruitment cycle strong and bring more new students to LMU. The group included a trustee, the Dean of Enrollment Management, the Director of Admissions, the Dean of Community College relations and the Dean of Administration plus a University employee that specializes in promotions.

The group immediately went to where everyone goes for a quick fix, marketing efforts. They inquired if we had done enough marketing, if we had ran enough ads, if there was something that we could do to get more people to apply? What were we doing right now? I always feel uncomfortable when those questions start to fly. Not because they aren’t valid questions, but because I always feel like no matter what I’m going to say it’s going to sound defensive.  The cold hard facts for this group at that moment were that it was May and the advertising budget had been planned and spent months ago. So there would be no quick fixes.

Looking for plan b, we discussed the current applicant pool and discovered that there was a fairly large group of applicants who had already applied and been accepted to LMU, but had not registered to join the Class of 2017. To me, it was the golden ticket. Here was a group that we already knew were interested enough to apply to LMU. The admissions folks told us that they had been communicating with this group for months and that they were just taking extra time making decisions. “They haven’t told us they aren’t coming to LMU or that they were going anywhere else. Our counselors have called them and they keep saying they are still making their decision,” Admissions Director Sherry McCreary reported to the group.

If they were still in the market to come to LMU, I assumed that repeated calls from our admissions counselors would only do so much. We needed to find a different way to reach them. The group discussed the University’s greatest selling points including the picturesque campus and engaging student body. “A lot of times all it takes is for prospective students to tour the campus and they are sold,” the admissions folks reported. This led to a discussion of adding another recruitment event like our Railsplitter for a Day or Preview Day events, but with several new student orientations already scheduled throughout the summer there was no time to add something else. Which brought us to the conclusion that if we couldn’t get prospective to students to Harrogate, maybe there was a way to bring Harrogate to our prospective students.

The result was a communication plan that included video embedded emails addressed to those accepted, but not registered students and the student series was born.

The series of videos features a host of current LMU students telling about why they chose LMU and sharing what their lives at LMU are like.

I would like to tell you that the student series was a massive success and we were able to convert 150 of the 300 people in that pool of accepted applicants into registered students. However, I not sure that is the truth and we won’t have final figures until classes start. Whether we still come up short or not, the student videos have been a big hit and something our admissions staff has already said we need to continue to utilize.

Class of 2015 Welcome Home!

20 Aug

WOW! What a day. It was awesome to see 298 bright and shiny new faces move into the Residence Halls. According to the Residence Life staff this is the largest incoming class living on campus, ever. When you consider there just 230 newbies last year and that pushed the housing to the limit, you can imagine special measures were needed to make room for 298.

The University worked overtime to create new housing space, renovating parts of Grant Lee, ordering new furniture to double up some of Pope, Mitchell and Dishner Halls and easing some off-campus housing restrictions to allow some upper classmen to take rooms at the Cumberland Gap Inn.

In the end, the extra efforts paid off. For a select group of incoming students, they were given the opportunity to move in the “Honors Residence Halls.” The students were still paired together in a double occupancy situation; however, they have the privilege of living in one of the apartment style residence halls which feature a common kitchen and living room area.

The more traditional freshman housing experience can be found at Liles and West Residence Halls. Students are again paired in a double occupancy situation. The room décor and layout are slightly less varied in Liles and West as the furniture is “built in” each room. It actually reminds me of my own freshman residence hall experience. A common bathroom is shared on each floor and laundry facilities and a lounge is available in the basement.

 

From the nearly 60 volunteers Pump Springs Baptist Church who lent a hand unloading cars and carrying refrigerators, TVs and suitcases up countless flights of stairs to the Hometown IGA providing refreshments for everyone, it was clear to everyone that LMU community stretches beyond the campus boundaries. I am so proud to be a Railsplitter!

What’s Happening: DSOL Orientation

6 Aug

Student laptops ready to be deployed.

The LMU-Duncan School of Law welcomed incoming first year law students for orientation today. Two groups of students, part-time and full-time, gathered in the Courtroom for presentations by the Dean, faculty and administration. The groups also received their laptop computers and training on the technology used in the curriculum. Additionally, the students received parking passes, student IDs and heard presentations on financial aid, student services and more. The approximately 60 students will now go through the Bridge Week program as they prepare for their first class which will start on August 15.