Admissions shifts recruitment strategies

Communication Department Chair Jay Self teaches a communication senior seminar class. Admissions is working to improve the retention rate of students at the University. Photo by Elisabeth Shirk

In an effort to reverse the four-year downward trend of enrollment, the Truman State University Admissions Office is changing communication strategies and education marketing, as well as how Truman communicates with students.

The Admissions Office is working to try and increase enrollment numbers, but for the time being, changes to the campus will start to take effect to make up for the loss of enrollment.

According to the Fall 2020 Enrollment Report, the semester saw a significant  decrease from fall 2019’s headcount of 5,231 to 4,655. 

Admissions Director Ryan Myzak said Truman is being flexible and trying new strategies. 

“We are blending virtual and safe in-person experiences to increase our options so any student, regardless of their circumstance, can have access to information,” Myzak said.

Tyana Lange, vice president for enrollment management and marketing, said Truman is also offering a test flexible option for incoming freshmen, meaning the students’ applications can be reviewed for admission without their test scores. 

Due to COVID, it was difficult for many students to get into testing centers to take their ACT or SAT tests, and it remains difficult for students to take their tests since the test centers fill up quickly, Lange said. 

On-campus tours are another way the University is working to increase admissions. According to Lange, many universities are no longer doing face-to-face tours, but Truman has decided to keep conducting in-person tours while following COVID-19 protocol, so prospective students can still personally visit the campus. 

Another way that the admissions department hopes to increase enrollment is through more communication with potential students.

“We’re doing what we call a drip campaign so that students are constantly getting contacted by the University,” Lange said. “We’ve increased the number of phone calls and text messages we’re doing. We have digital ambassadors in admissions who are doing things like creating content for TikTok so that we’re building that community before they get here.”

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Even though Admissions is working on increasing enrollment, changes on campus will still have to be implemented, like closing some residence hall floors to save money. 

Lange explained that in order to have an impact on enrollment trends, Truman would have to see multiple years of increased enrollment. A higher incoming class for next year is helpful, but does not completely fix enrollment issues.

Lange further explained that these changes were not to diminish the students’ experiences, but to be strategic and maximize utilities until numbers increase. 

“It doesn’t do any good if you use all three floors or all five floors, you want to cut off as many chunks and spaces as you possibly can to be cost-effective,” Lange said. “We’re looking at the best way to be strategic and maximize the savings that they can have from heating and air conditioning, electricity, lights, facilities, custodians — all kinds of things.”