USD recruiters set goal to surpass new student enrollment numbers for fall 2016
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USD recruiters set goal to surpass new student enrollment numbers for fall 2016

As the end of the semester approaches, USD’s Admissions Office is increasing its efforts to enroll more students for the upcoming school year.

A total of 1,198 first-year students enrolled at USD this past fall,  a 3.8 percent increase from the fall of 2014 when 1,154 new students enrolled. University officials are hoping to stay in line with the same rates of increase and enroll more than 1,200 new students for the fall 2016 semester.

USD Dean of Admissions Mark Petty heads the operation in charge of recruiting new students. He said recent changes in tuition rates for new, incoming Iowa students should help them choose USD over other Iowa institutions.

“It’s a very competitive market,” Petty said. “One thing we have done to help address that is to introduce the Iowa tuition rate for new students enrolling.”

The South Dakota Board of Regents recently approved a measure that allows USD to offer in-state tuition rates to Iowa residents who enroll at the university. They must be first-time, incoming students for the tuition rate to apply. The Board also voted to freeze in-state tuition for South Dakota residents for the upcoming school year.

This, along with the USD Women’s basketball team winning the WNIT Championship, contribute to boosting prospective students’ interest in USD, Petty said.

While USD accepts students nationwide, focus is put on regional students, he added.

“We focus on students right in our backyard – South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota,” Petty said.

There are a variety of ways in which USD contacts potential students. Direct mailings are sent to everyone in USD’s student database, but Petty said emails are the most effective way to contact prospective students, as phone calls often go unanswered.

“Getting ahold of students is very challenging because they are all very busy,” he said.

Tena Haraldson, director of Marketing, Communications and University Relations, produces advertisements and press releases for USD. She said the annual budget for marketing is around $472,000 – or $47.20 per student. The money is used to produce magazines, brochures, posters, advertisements and to keep the university website running.

“We occasionally advertise in daily newspapers, online advertising and billboards,” Haraldson said. “We focus TV ads on USD programs and high school sporting events.”

For example, since the SDBOR approved the Iowa tuition rate for new students, more advertisements like billboards in the state have been going up, along with newspaper ads in Sioux City and Des Moines and commercials being broadcast over Iowa radio stations.

Scott Pohlson, vice president of Enrollment, Marketing and University Relations, hopes to see a boost in new enrollments this fall, especially from Iowa residents.

“We’ll see if we get a spike in our yield from the Iowa side of things,” Pohlson said.

Although advertising may be an effective way to pique students’ interest, Pohlson said he sets up campus tours to help potential students get a feel for USD.

Individual visits to campus happen Monday through Friday every week, and vary in size depending on the number of prospective students scheduling visits.

Early this month, a Junior Visit Day was held for high school juniors, and another is scheduled for the end of the month. These visits focus on sparking interest in students who will enroll in college in the fall of 2017.

Pohlson said he’s optimistic about this year’s recruitment process.

“We’re excited about what we think can happen, it’s just whether or not it does,” Pohlson said.  “We’ll find that out in September.
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