Moving Forward and Looking Back
Scholarships: Turning Dreams Into Reality
Why is JWU refining standards at a time when the U.S. is facing
a declining college-age population? “It’s two-fold,” says Ken DiSaia
’87, ’92 M.B.A., vice president of enrollment management.
“Improving selectivity benefits students. It helps determine if
they’re ready to commit to their program and long-term success.
It also enhances JWU’s image and reputation.”
Tighter standards haven’t negatively affected either enrollment
or the diversity of JWU’s student body. In fact, accessibility and
affordability remain at the heart of the effort. University registrar
and vice president of student services Marie Bernardo-Sousa ’92,
chairs the Strategic Enrollment Team (SET) and describes its work as
centered on academic preparedness and the cost of education. “We’re
preparing students to meet the ever-changing demands of industry
and the economy.” Providing engaging experiences inside and outside
the classroom as well as need- and merit-based aid is resulting in
higher retention rates. “This will translate to higher graduation rates
and strong career progression.”
JWU’s journey to reshaping the cohort began in earnest in
October 2005, when SET was formed in anticipation of the 2006 launch of FOCUS 2011. In shaping the entering class of 2007–
2008, JWU worked with Human Capital Research Corp. (HCRC)
to sideline 4,500 applications, which translated into the rejection of
375 students. In 2008–2009, JWU improved standards by 11 points,
tightening its acceptance rate from 79 percent of applicants down to
68 percent. view enlarged graphs.
With the entering class of 2009–2010, SET and Admissions
identified business, culinary and hospitality programs with
historically low retention and graduation rates. Based on HCRC
data, certain applicants were denied admission. In years past, 232 of
these students would have enrolled.
The shift demanded new recruitment strategies, tools and training.
Admissions continually modifies its marketing, personalizing
broader student communication plans through major- and campusspecific
brochures, digital viewbooks, a student portal, blogs and
social networking. Leveraging HCRC’s guidance, JWU evaluated its
inquiry pool and successfully reduced marketing efforts to 20 percent
of the population. Historically these students represented only one
percent of JWU’s entering class.