Enrollment Growth Strategies for the Contemporary Liberal Arts College
Rogers, Justina Jones
Small, private, liberal arts colleges face challenges in enrolling first-year students due to demographic trends impacting their target populations and unsustainable financial aid allocation strategies. Marietta College, located in Marietta, Ohio, epitomizes this dynamic as they embark on a set of strategic efforts to grow their first-year cohort and total student population. Our quantitative and qualitative research and analysis of this institution’s enrollment management work focuses on three areas of interest: the relationship between financial aid and enrollment, specifically for out-of-state students; how campus visitation impacts enrollment; and how website user experience influences enrollment. Key analytic findings included, among others, the ideal range of students most likely to yield at Marietta College based on a review of historical applicant data, a statistically significant relationship between campus visitation and enrollment, insight into the factors influencing students to ultimately choose Marietta College, and qualitative feedback from prospective college students on their user experience with the institution’s website. Lastly, we offer a series of strategic recommendations for Marietta College leadership to consider across four distinct areas: ideal student population(s) to target, recruitment strategy, campus tours and other on-campus programming, and website and virtual engagement. While limited in scope and generalizability, we anticipate our findings and recommendations will add to the existing knowledge base for similarly situated institutions facing enrollment growth challenges.