The demographics in the upper Midwest stink! And, that makes things challenging for a college like Augustana College, which enrolls many of its students from the Upper Midwest—especially from Chicago and its “collar counties.”
Historically, as many as 60% of Augustana’s students have come from Chicago and the collar counties. Why? We are a perfect distance for many of these students at 2 ½ to 3 hours from home and we enjoy a very strong reputation in the area, which is filled with many successful and loyal alumni. However, changing/shrinking demographics, aggressive outreach from out-of-state colleges (The Chicago Regional Representatives [CARR] has 90+ members) and an increasing number of students leaving the state for higher education have threatened Augustana’s favorable position in the Chicagoland Region.
We can’t lose our core market and recently doubled down to protect, defend and expand our core market.
We’ve opened a satellite Office of Admissions 2 ½ hours from our campus. This decision has its origin in a position paper written in 2010 and gained momentum during a recent strategic planning process.
The following paragraphs are taken from an announcement shared with the Augustana community recently:
“Strategic Imperative 2 of Affirm, Assure and Assess—Innovate recruitment and retention—describes the following strategic initiative: Sustain market share in our primary market by increasing multicultural recruitment and strengthening our presence and reputation in the Chicago area.
On Sunday, December 2, Augustana College took an important step forward in fulfilling one of the objectives when we host our first official event (an opening event for prospective students and families) in our new Chicagoland Office of Admissions in Lombard, Illinois..
The office’s origin can be traced to Affirm, Assure, Assess and the success measure of “opening a regional Office of Admissions in the Chicago area,” which is directly connected to our goal of maintaining 56–58% of our total enrollment from Chicago and the Chicago “collar” counties. This is particularly important given demographic trends in the upper Midwest and the increasing number of students from Illinois opting to attend college out of state. You may have seen this article from today’s Chicago Tribune.”
The Chicagoland Office is located at 377 Butterfield, Suite 201E in Lombard. The location is ideal. The office is easily accessible from I-88 and I-355. The office has two private offices, a small reception space, and a multipurpose meeting room that can accommodate meetings of six to 30 people. In addition, we have access to a large meeting room, which can accommodate up to 70 people. The office is staffed by two excellent admissions officers, Courtney Wallace and Jenna Muench (see “New Faces on Campus” in the September issue of Acknowledge), who will provide many of the same services to prospective students that are offered on campus. We’ve already experienced an increasing number of admissions interview requests from students who visited campus and had their interest piqued sufficiently to schedule an admissions interview “in their own backyard.” (I’ve included some photos at the bottom of this post).
While the primary purpose of the Chicagoland Office is to serve prospective students in a manner similar to the Office of Admissions on campus, many others have expressed interest. Already, athletics has scheduled a number of events as well as personal meetings; career services and the internships office have plans to use the office for an information session; and the Office of Admissions will be hosting various outside groups including alumni and guidance counselors. We hope many on campus will think about ways the office can serve your needs and help serve our students. Given its ideal location and what it offers, the Chicagoland Office is an excellent option for focus groups, meetings with alumni, information sessions or meetings of colleagues from other regional colleges. The space could serve as an occasional class setting for a field trip to the area, too.
In addition to doubling down in our core market, this strategic move has enabled us to reduce the number of staff managing and recruiting the Chicagloand area from 7 to 4, which provides staff with significantly more time to expand recruit of students from secondary and tertiary markets. This is one of the goals we had in mind from the beginning; we wanted to “shore up” our primary market by increasing the level of service and outreach offered by cutting back on travel time for counselors and prospects, and expand into new markets.
Obviously I am very excited about this effort and will continue to keep you posted on what works and what doesn’t.
W. Kent Barnds a.k.a. @bowtieadmission