45: Right-Fit Student Targeting at Saint Louis University w/ Jay Goff

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Jay Goff, Vice President for Enrollment and Retention Management at Saint Louis University discusses how SLU has moved away from the spray-and-pray model when it comes to prospective student list buys and found a much more creative and data-driven targeting approach.

You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect Evu podcast network. I'Meric Olson, AVP of marketing at Helix Education, and we're here today with Jay Gough, vice president for enrollment and retention management at St Louis University. Jay, welcome to the show. Oh, thank you, Eric. Really excited to talk with you today about how St Louis University has moved away from a classic kind of sprain prey model when it comes to list bys of prospective students and found a much more creative and data driven targeting approach. Before we dig into that, Jay, can you get the listeners a little bit better understanding of both St Louis University and your role? They're sure my position at St...

Louis University is I'm the vice president for enrollment and retention management. The way we structure enrollment management at St Louis University is really looking at it from a k twenty perspective, and so be everything from our pre college programs k through twelve admissions, financial aid, registration programs, grant programs or the supporting underprivileged students to our international programs and then supporting graduate admissions. The St Louis University is we are a Catholic Jesuit University. We're celebrating our two hundredth anniversary, where the first university west of the Mississippi River founded. Than Eighteen and eighteen. We're a comprehensive university with just over fourteenzero degree seeking students and about twenty Onezero students served each year if you look at our non credit programs and online programs. We have two campuses, one in the main campus in St Louis...

...and the second campus in Madrid, Spain. And you know the St Louis Campus has both the medical school the law school and in many of the the top linked programs that are in business, health sciences, engineering, our our aviation program and in obviously, the very robust college of Arts and Sciences. Awesome, Jay. Historically at St Louis University you had been playing a volume game. When it came to list bys, you were buying close to a quarter of a million names per year from both act and college board. Describe how your approach to list byes has become much more targeted over the past several years. Certainly, our approach to the list bys really came from developing a more comprehensive strategic enrollment management plan, or we call some plan. And and that really started by the idea of really focusing on the on the three ours, the idea of research that drives our recruitment, and then recruitment and research, the drives are were tension. So we really were. It was the...

...idea of how could we accomplish our goals of looking at students, success, satisfaction, diversity, access, affordability, and then how do we buy names that would be appropriate to meeting our profile goals and and student student success goals? And so when we initially looked at how we bought names, instead of just doing geographic regions, we actually went back and looked at students who were successful at the university, and by success we meant students who started as freshman graduated from the university. And then what were the factors? What were the characteristics that that made up that profile that would allow us to hit our diversity goals and and provide the access and affordability pieces that we wanted to aspire to. And what that allowed us to do was to take instead of just looking at large numbers, was to actually look at numbers of students that were most likely to fit the the profile we were shooting for and not focus on students that were simply we're buying names and sending lots of materials to we went from...

...purchases that were close to probably two hundred eighty two, three hundred thousand down to about a hundred and seventy thousand, with a core prospect group of about forty seven thousand for each year's class of sixteen hundred. Awesome. So, to recap, in attempt to better target these lists buys, you analyzed your past three years of graduates. You were looking for students who finished on time, you were looking for students who finished with high satisfaction scores and you tried to find correlations in the data to make letter better list purchasing decisions. What were some of those most interesting correlations? You found two on time finishing and high satisfaction. So when we looked at the the students that chose the university and Joe St Luis University and graduated that what we found were that there were if we align them with the appropriate support groups when they arrived at the university, we had much higher success rates. And so what we tried to do was then was look at our current resources, the types of students that we...

...could support and the and the capacity for supporting them, and then and then actually relating that to our purchase strategy. And and so what that gave us was about twelve to fifteen different core populations that we were focusing on and then, within those populations, that helped us, you know, overall in terms of increasing the the number of underrepresented students, maintaining we wanted to have at least about twenty twenty two percent of our students be pell grand eligible, and it also helped us identify students that were first generation. So we have about about thirty percent of our students will be the first in their family to graduate with the university degree. And so it we're really was the segmentation strategy that helped us target the buying awesome, awesome, what a great story and Jay, can you talk about the registration questionnaire that students fill out before taking these tests, the actd St and how you're able to map those? Answer is to find potential right fits students. So this is data that's it's often overlooked,...

...that is collected by both act and and sat and in a you can find it in other sources. But, for example, we have one of the top fifteen entrepreneurship programs and the country and one of the data points that they collect is is, have you started an organization or a business while you're in high school? And so what allows us to do is to go in and go major by Major, for example with entrepreneurship, and go in and target students that specifically wanted to study in that field and we're looking at one of the, you know, the top programs in the country. What you'll find in that data as also they students will tell you what are the resources they're looking for, what are the support pieces they need, and then you can match them to the resources that eat that your campus provides to you've mentioned some of the creative ways that you're trying to shape your incoming classes. How do you incorporate financial modeling in your list bys, for instance, how do you make sure that you are targeting in a way that will allow you to...

...distribute student appropriately? Our student a strategies really focus on what are the resources that we have in terms of providing scholarships, you need based aid, and looking at that, the that balance. And so what we recognize is that by having very specific, clear goals that we've established ahead of time in terms of the number of students that we can support with need based aid, with merit aid for you know and and for different academic programs, that that allows us to be more targeted in our aid awarding process. And so what we're ultimately trying to do it's to help students, you know, obviously if they have the ability to pay and we want to make sure that that they're being able to cover their expenses. But if they they have the willingness to pay but they don't have the ability to pay, how can we match that gap? And by having a stronger sense of what program capacities are and and making sure that we're meeting the appropriate unmet need, that really helps us have a much tighter financial aid awarding strategy. We find that it that's that's what ultimately...

...helps us with more the lower income in the first generation students. Awesome, Jay sins and acting this right fittarting strategy. You mentioned how you've reduced your list bys by forty percent. You've also enrolled five of the six largest freshman classes and university history. The big question is, how are these incoming classes persisting? You're being more successful getting students in the door, but are these students actually persisting as well through graduation? Eric, I'm glad you bring that up because I really think outcomes. What you do initially is you know is important and how you do it, but really is does it have the impact that you want to have? And what we have seen over the last five years is that we've seen our first to second year your potension rates jump by about six percent, going from about eighty four to ninety percent. Our four year graduation rate has gone up eleven percent, so we've gone from right around sixty two percent to seventy three percent, and I think we're going to actually go hire them that this year. In our six year graduation right, the...

...one that really looks at has has jumped from seventy percent to seventy eight percent. And just that by your period. And that's great because what we know is we're doing a better job at living our promise and students are coming to St Louis University they're being successful. But the thing we're really happy about is that this overall strategy, increasing the for your graduation rate has helped lower indebtedness rates. So we've seen our average students who take loans over five thousand dollars. They're borrowing over fivezero less and each year. That's this may we had over forty percent of the students who graduated from the university graduated debt free. They had no federal student loans. Awesome. And so when we look at ultimately, what is their satisfaction rate with their St Louis University experience, you know, we're seeing a ninety ninety two, ninety three, ninety four percent consistently or saying they made the right choice and they're satisfied. They're highly satisfied with their their education and their experience that they had at slew and. And...

...ultimately, that's that's what we're hoping for, is that they they got the value, they got the experience and then they can go on and truly make a difference in the World Jay such great outcomes. Moving forward, what are you excited about right now? How do you hope to continue to utilize data even deeper to improve your targeting even more? The idea of how can we? What is the next step? We've been looking at this and from a number of different ideas of how can we use data to improve overall students accessories? How can we? I mean those the accomplishments we've had at St luch university have really been terrific, but we want to know how can we do more? And so ultimately, what we're doing now is looking internally at the data that we're already collecting from students in terms of, you know, using the the library, using different resources that we have in finding out what are the processes, what are the steps that can help more students be successful and of richer experiences, and so we're taking that, that internal data and we're building models that we ultimately believe can create personalized experience portfolios for all of our...

...graduates. So we launched a pilot this last year, our pep program pilot, the personalized experience portfolio and which were what we're trying to do is take the students interests and their data and then create an eight semester, a four year experience that would not only have the academic programs that they want, but have the on campus experiences, but essentially would assure all students that they would have a career development experience, internship co op, they would clinical experience, they would have a community experience because as a jazuit institution, we do over a million hours of service each year and so we want to let make sure that we're use and helping students use their gifts to help others that have not been as blessed as they are. And then third is a global experience, since we are a global institution with campus in Madrid and partnerships with over fifty different study abroad sides. How could we combine that, that career development, the community development and the global perspectives together? And we're using our data systems...

...to build those, those experiences for our students to ensure that that every student who goes to Saint Luis University could have a rich experience and one that really matches what they were hoping when they were in high school. Shay, such great stuff, such exciting stuff. Any next step recommendations for listeners from institutions who are thinking, boy, this sounds so exciting what Jay's doing and Jane's team are doing at's low any next step advice for them in terms of how do I start this process of being more data driven in my targeting and recruitment? That really is an important question to ask. is is really kind of looking at what data do you need to be collecting right, but it always starts with what data are you're already collecting, and what we find it is that in the planning process is kind of starting off with first, do you know what the core competencies of your institution are and what you could deliver, and then finding what are the types of students that succeed best with that, and so really it's the backward engineering. I would suggest, if you're going...

...to do this, you know, start by first looking at your successful students. Let's find out why they're doing so well and then find ways that we can replicate those processes for all the students that you're a gooying and and that really will answer the data questions for you. It will also answer a lot of the process questions. And where do you need to put key assessments in place. Jay, thanks so much for your time today. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you with have any follow up questions if you'd like to talk more about this? This is this is my passion. I hope that comes across and I really enjoy it. I work with with acrow and there's strategic enrollment management teams and the and the the SEM conference, and so if I don't see you at the at sem conference, please feel free to contact me directly. You can contact me at St Louis University and at three one, four nine, seven, seven, eight, one hundred and ninety one, or feel free to email me and my email address is j a y Dot Golf Geoff at slu Dot Edu. Awesome. Thanks against so much for joining us today. J. Thank you. Are Attracting today's new...

...post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcoma playbook you've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show and Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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