In an effort to advocate the ACU difference, the admissions office revamped its initiative to attract potential students by taking a more charitable approach.
Prospective students no longer receive the typical viewbook from the university. Now, they get a personalized letter with the option to choose one of three charities for the admissions office to donate to. This is the third year of the new admissions initiative.
Tamara Long, director of admissions, recognized the admissions office was too much like other schools in giving out viewbooks.
“Most universities for years and years have sent students viewbooks right before they are juniors in high school and as they apply,” Long said. “But it’s a very expensive endeavor. Students are getting 75 of these, potentially, especially if they are academically capable students. We decided we’re just like one in a dozen. We’re spending around $150,000 to produce and send the viewbook out.”
Instead of being part of the crowd, the admissions office turned to the idea of sending out a letter with charitable options for the student. The letter to each prospective student encourages him or her to make a difference in the world by donating the money that otherwise would have been spent on an expensive viewbook.
At first, only one charity was available.
“Two years ago we partnered with the Red Thread Movement,” Long said. “(Now) we see that there are a lot of students that want that autonomy of making a decision where their money is going to go, so instead, we are giving them three choices of organizations.”
Prospective students may choose to send an Afghan child to school for a year through Eternal Threads, provide tents and sleeping bags to homeless youth and young adults through Dry Bones Denver or send medical supplies to be used in disaster relief efforts around the world through LiveBeyond.
All three charities are nonprofit organizations founded by ACU alumni.
“We want to share the incredible stories of ACU’s students and alumni because they tell the authentic story of who we are as a university and, hopefully, inspire high school students to live up to God’s calling for their lives,” said Kris Evans, director of enrolment marketing.
The Admissions Office pledges to donate up to $10,000 to each organization, dependent upon student response.
Research shows that nearly 80 percent of viewbooks received by high school students go unread, regardless of the university they come from. From a $150,000 expense, that is $120,000 wasted. The new approach to attracting students solves much of the cost issue.
It may be early in the process, but initial statistics show the decision has not hurt enrolment at ACU. Last year, the Admissions Office saw a record number of incoming students. This year shows only a minimal decrease.
“We’re telling the ACU story,” Long said. “We’re giving students a chance to choose something, and we’re being different.”