The University of Central Arkansas Board of Trustees voted to enter into a $1,439,534, three-year contract with EAB (Education Advisory Board) Global, Inc. during a teleconference meeting Thursday.
“EAB will provide student marketing, recruitment, and enrollment services,” the meeting’s agenda reads. “This will include: an inquiry generation service targeting high school sophomore and juniors; an application marketing tool for senior year that focuses on student and parent information needs; a yield optimization component to increase intelligence related to likelihood of enrollment; a dedicated 15 person team to help UCA make enrollment service improvements; and consulting and implementation plan to make better use of financial aid and scholarship assets.”
UCA President Houston Davis said this is the first year they’ve worked with EAB but he has experience with the company from previous universities he’s worked at.
Davis said through EAB, they want to work on, “making certain,” they are identifying and admitting prospects and increasing the number of students that are actually coming to UCA.
“It’s one thing to admit students, it’s another to enroll them,” he said.
Records show that for the Fall 2017 semester, 4,120 students — undergraduate only — from Arkansas applied to UCA. Of that, 3,712 were admitted but only 1,407 enrolled.
In addition, 620 students — undergraduate only — from out-of-state applied, 533 were accepted and 184 enrolled at UCA.
Davis said they also want to work with EAB to ensure UCA is making better use of its financial aid and scholarship strategies; to maximize those “scarce” resources.
In addition, he said, they want to develop a broader recruitment pool, reaching to communities in and out of Arkansas through the new process.
Davis said he’d characterize UCA’s current pool as Arkansas, Dallas and Ft. Worth area; UCA has recruiters in central Arkansas and the four quadrants of the state and then in the Dallas Metroplex.
“What we’re wanting to do is ensure that we’re reaching students in Memphis, Tulsa and Oklahoma City, in the [foothills] of Missouri,” he said. “There are any number of locations but the reality is we’re not just going to hire recruiters to go out in the field. That’s a very expensive way to do that. What we want to be able to do is utilize data and information sources to be able to target students that have a high likelihood of showing interest in UCA and then have a modern system.”
Right now Davis said UCA does a lot of one-on-one relationship-building types of recruitment.
“I think this is going to allow us to utilize that data in a modern way to where we’re not just doing a broad net casting for students but we’re striking … for where students are that would have a high likelihood of being interested in UCA,” he said.
The UCA president said he’s also excited to work with EAB because it will allow the university to “think critically” about the way they target publications and get that info to potential students, not just sending information out through the mail but utilizing electronic resources, social media and other forms of communications.
“Lots of times that’s where students and parents are going to be finding their information and how are we optimizing what we’re doing from a social media standpoint,” Davis said.
Right now, UCA averages about 38-39 percent enrollment in terms of those students who were admitted to the university and actually enroll and attend, which Davis said is a “pretty standard figure.”
“What we’d like to do increase that yield,” he said, adding that one way that is done is by having a better understanding about that other 61 percent.
Davis said this new tool will allow them to better serve those broader markets they’re looking for but also students in the state because that’s UCA’s primary goal … serving Arkansans.
“These tools are going to allow us to better serve those prospects from Arkansans, as well,” he said. “We will have a much better sense about students from every Arkansas high school. Where they are on the likelihood of enrollment, what can we do to influence the likelihood of that enrollment and then hopefully, eventually, it’s to get them here.”
He said EAB is known across the country as being an entity that can help universities.
“We’re focusing on how they can help us with our initial intake and yield,” Davis said.