Alice Lloyd College Increases Enrollment, Despite Pandemic

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John W. Dysart
The Dysart Group

Alice Lloyd College has a unique mission and is a distinctive institution.  It is dedicated to serving students in the Appalachia region and is one of only a handful of work colleges in the United States.  At Alice Lloyd, the work college designation means that students do not pay traditional tuition.

  • Like many private colleges and universities throughout the United States, Alice Lloyd College experienced declines in enrollment over the last few years.
  • Access is a critical issue even for a college that does not charge tuition, as fees for room and board can be a challenge when 54% of the student population is eligible for Federal Pell Grants.
  • The institution faced declining demographics in its target area.
  • Appalachia has college attendance rates lower than the national average.
  • Enrollment challenges were exacerbated by the pandemic.

I partnered with the team at Alice Lloyd College to introduce a new recruitment plan and modernize the approach to financial aid.

New Leadership

  • The introduction of a new plan begins with new leadership. Tori Nairn, the Director of Financial Aid, was promoted to Director of Enrollment Management.  She established a group of key personnel from important divisions throughout the College to act as a collaborative team to review options, adopt new strategies and tactics and implement new initiatives.

New Reporting Mechanisms

  • Reports needed to be redesigned to monitor performance more effectively.
  • Specific metrics were included to inform decision-making throughout the cycle.
  • The weekly admission funnel report was revised to better assess outcomes.
  • A financial aid report was created to track financial aid application rates for both new and returning students and packaging rates.
  • A report was created to monitor admission counselor telephone and text outreach.

Targeted Travel

  • The pandemic changed travel plans for all colleges and universities. Leadership at Alice Lloyd took the opportunity to re-evaluate travel destinations and programming for the long-term, making for a more efficient use of institutional resources while still generating student interest.

Systematic Communication

  • The admission counselors increased communication efforts with prospective students and applicants for admission.
  • A new email campaign was introduced to keep in touch with students throughout the entire recruitment cycle.
  • A text messaging campaign was designed for more immediate communication with prospective students.
  • Telephone outreach has been significantly increased to enable counselors to better develop personal relationships with both students and their families.

Focus on Folder Completion

  • The admission team focused on folder completion this cycle and increased the number of students accepted for admission dramatically.
  • More accepted students translated into more financial aid packages demonstrating the inherent affordability of the College.

Emphasis on Videos

  • The admission team worked collaboratively to produce several new videos.
  • Video content on the website became a better source of information about the College.
  • Video messages were even sent directly to the admission applicants. The video messaging was much more effective than traditional text.

Early Financial Aid Packaging

  • Financial aid packages were mailed much earlier this year.
  • The Financial Aid Office systematically communicated with both new and continuing students to encourage students to apply for financial aid early.
  • Demonstrating affordability early in the cycle supported both recruitment and retention objectives.

Implementation of a new model with bold changes enabled institutional leaders to enroll the largest class since 2015.

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