Truman works on new recruiting process amid low enrollment

Truman State University’s enrollment for fall 2019 was 5,231 students. The Admissions Office is working on a new recruiting process after Truman’s enrollment numbers have been affecting academic departments and school organizations. 

Tara Hart, director of admission, said the admission team is partnering with high school teachers and counselors to give presentations about the admission process by explaining the process step by step to make it easier. 

“We have expanded the collection of names for our alumni who are educators with a TruSpirit program,” Hart said. “We provide Truman swag to our educators, with future plans to keep them in the loop regarding what is happening at Truman — specifically for prospective students.” 

Hart said Truman has a new Home for the Holidays program where current students can talk about Truman at their old high schools. 

“They are evaluating processes of our recruitment visits, events and communication, and marketing pieces to continue to appeal to the Generation Z student culture,” Hart said. “We evaluate how we can continue to enhance the personalized foundation we have. One example includes a telecounseling program with student callers. Prospective students want to hear from current students and this provides another touchpoint for prospective students to Truman.” 

Hart said they are also taking out the words “highly selective” from their talking points in order for potential students to feel like they can apply. 

This became an issue of concern at the most recent Board of Governors meeting Oct. 18. Gov. K. Brooks Miller Jr. questioned what Truman’s identity or public perception will be if the University no longer used the term highly selective. He said Truman is known for providing opportunities to gain experience and move away from blue collar careers.

“We don’t really want to lose that,” Gov. Miller said. “That makes us compete with absolutely everybody. So, if we’re not that, what are we that separates us from everybody else and how are we marketing that?” 

University President Sue Thomas said Truman’s identity as a strong, education-focused university will remain, but how that is marketed to prospective students is what is changing.

Tyana Lange, vice president of enrollment management and marketing, said the shift away from “highly selective” is meant to dispel any fear students might have preventing them from applying. She said some students are choosing to not apply to the University based on Truman’s reputation as a rigorous school.

The Admissions Office is also focusing on the excellence of a Truman liberal arts education and then following it up by explaining its value. 

Lange said the admission team is flipping the value and excellence proposition. Most students are interested because of the value and cost of Truman, Lange said, but students stay because of the experience and excellence the University has to offer. The recruitment team is going to first talk about the excellence of Truman and then about its value to prospective students.

Lange also said the University will embrace its small town character and rural location in future admission efforts.

“We are done apologizing for Kirksville,” Lange said. “I have heard people joke about the small town and, while not being negative, really apologizing for our location. I see Kirksville as an incredible place with a terrific relationship between the town and University. There is enough to keep students engaged, plus it is safe with tons of convenient options close to campus.”