Despite changes necessitated by COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, IUP’s Division of Enrollment Management kept its focus on being student-centered and successfully pivoted to new ways of doing business.
Clock-hour program students
Total head count
This total exceeded projections by 45 students.
IUP’s fall-to-spring retention rate—87.85 percent for full-time, first-time degree-seeking freshman students—is at its highest since the fall 2015 rate, also 87.85 percent. This compares to our fall-to-spring 2019 full-time, first-time degree-seeking freshman retention rate of 84.49 percent. This is a very positive sign for enrollment.
The undergraduate, graduate, and Academy of Culinary Arts teams are working hard to recruit the fall 2021 classes. This work has required a great deal of creativity and new thinking. Student trends and behaviors are not following any historical models. The teams are doing an incredible job of meeting these challenges and of designing initiatives that provide students with the tools they need for success and graduation.
One of the most effective tools in encouraging students to enroll at IUP is campus visits. Events are planned a year in advance or more. So, with the transition to working remotely, the admissions team faced the challenge of redesigning all of the on-campus experiences and of communicating with those students and families who had made plans to attend these on-campus events.
Small, on-campus tours have been offered since September, following all health and safety guidelines. For those students and families who could not come to campus, the admissions team worked with the Marketing and Communications team to offer a variety of campus tour videos.
Experience IUP, a daylong event for admitted students, has traditionally been a very high-yield event, with 70 percent of the students in attendance committing to IUP. That event is now virtual, with sessions for students, faculty interactions, and a live virtual welcome from President Driscoll.
New initiatives to improve yield include the following:
Fortunately, IUP was ahead of the curve with SAT-optional admission, in place since 2015. With help from the Division of Academic Affairs, this option has been expanded, which allows IUP to remove barriers for students and to offer faster admissions decisions—in many cases, instant decisions.
Keys to Success
Throughout the transition to remote work, the Office of Graduate Admissions has maintained its focus on being student-centered and its commitment to keeping in touch with campus offices and students.
More than 70 virtual events have been held since March, with a very strong response. Students are participating in the events, which allows a greater outreach beyond the region. For example, in one of the sessions, attendance included students from four countries and 12 different states.
The “new reality” of COVID-19 changed the way the committee could operate, but it hit the ground running in the fall semester to create its goals for the 2021-22 academic year.
This group includes a number of subcommittees and ad hoc groups, including the following:
UWRPC’s newest addition, formed in November 2020, is the Advising and Data Strategies Standing Subcommittee. It partners across campus to develop and implement technology solutions that support systemic sustainable practices that affect student retention.
This subcommittee harnesses the many resources and tools across campus to help meet retention and persistence goals.
One of the initial outcomes of the subcommittee’s work is IUP Advise. Its intent:
Future intentions are for IUP Advise to help provide two-way communication, including to and from students, and to incorporate a texting platform to improve communication with students.