Ohio University application numbers have been on the rise since the university made itself available on the Common Application.
OU has been on the Common Application since 2017. Within those two years, OU has seen its application numbers rise by the thousands. In 2017, there were 26,243 applicants to OU. The 2018 application season marked the university’s second largest pool of applicants in history with 23,385 people applying.
“There was significant growth in the first year that we believe can be partially attributed to the Common Application, though OHIO had already seen record applications for several years,” Candace Boeninger, associate vice provost for strategic enrollment management and director of undergraduate admissions, said in an email. “We feel that membership in The Common App has helped streamline the process and make it simpler for students to find and apply to OHIO.”
Calen Campbell, a freshman studying biological sciences, applied to OU using the Common Application. Campbell knew that she at least wanted to apply to OU, primarily because she knew about the Honors Tutorial College and was interested in it.
“I was applying to other schools as well, but I guess I wasn’t set on going here initially,” Campbell said.
During Faculty Senate’s March meeting, OU President Duane Nellis said the Common Application has been pivotal in getting more high schoolers to apply to OU. However, what’s key is the university also increases its yield, or how many people decide to attend OU after applying and being accepted. OU has been working harder to reach out to students from different regions to increase its application yield, Boeninger said.
“As far as our potential enrollment from Ohio … we’re trying to do a better job within our state but also out of state and beyond,” Nellis said.
Aside from the Common Application, OU has been taking a variety of other steps to try and recruit more students. Marketing to high schoolers has taken place across a variety of channels, Boeninger said, and staff go visit potential students across the country.
“We engage in significant outreach to prospective students via traditional and digital advertising, and we provide University information to them after they provide their contact information to us,” Boeninger said in an email. “We work hard to get families to come to campus and experience the energy of Ohio University first-hand whenever we can host them.”
OU’s marketing through mail did have some impact on Campbell. After Campbell had been accepted to OU, she received a welcome “gift package” from her program.
“I thought (the gift packages) were cute, personally,” Campbell said. “I guess I don’t know if they’re entirely convincing if you’re already dead-set on coming here.”
Packages like Campbell’s may become more of a staple in years to come. Executive Vice President and Provost Chaden Djalali said the university is trying to make marketing more individualized instead of marketing OU as a whole.
“We are marketing and trying to say ‘what is the value program by program?’ ” Djalali said.
Like most OU applicants, Campbell also received a lot of emails from OU, which she said weren’t anything too convincing.
Djalali also wants OU to start mobilizing its alumni connections more. Alumni from outside of Ohio would be encouraged to call or meet up with potential out-of-state students to sell OU to them.
To do this, Djalali said that OU takes a heat map of where OU applicants are from and superimpose it with a map of all OU alumni. The alumni then begin recruiting nearby applicants.
“Its working,” Djalali said. “But it’s going to take some time.”