There is a perfect storm brewing at Creighton University and the institution wants to harness its power to expand our national prominence. A move to the BIG EAST, a highly favored candidate for the men’s basketball player of the year, the undergraduate professor of the year and top rankings for academic reputation and value have intersected to shine a spotlight on the university. These attention grabbing events have resulted in Creighton experiencing a 50 percent increase in undergraduate applications this year.
For Mary Chase, associate vice provost, Enrollment Management, the word she has coined to capture it all is “priceless.”
“When you have a Doug McDermott, a two-time All-American and candidate for player of the year and the undergraduate U.S. professor of the year, as well as nationally successful basketball teams, the exposure and name recognition is invaluable,” said Chase.
This national spotlight from an enrollment perspective affords Creighton an opportunity to build awareness in markets where historically the University has not had significant name recognition.
The key now is to translate interest into action. The University is investing marketing funds in these markets, engaging more students through prospect lists and visits and capitalizing on awareness to enroll students who are a good fit and may not have otherwise given Creighton a second look. Chase is quick to remind people that the increased application pool is just that-- students who have expressed an interest in joining Creighton’s freshman class.
“Anyone in enrollment management knows that we are in the attraction stage—prospective students are reading and hearing more about Creighton. Now our job is the help those students to understand our mission and strengths in educating the whole person,” said Chase. “In the end it is our job to help students find the right fit for their college experience and at Creighton it is about spending four years to prepare our students for the next forty.”
In that process, the University is trying both traditional and innovative admission activities. Recently high school counselors from the BIG EAST markets came and visited the campus to become more familiar with Creighton. And they also attended a men’s basketball game with 18,500 screaming fans.
“The spirit and excitement is palpable and contagious,” said Chase.
Admissions has also expanded efforts to partner with alumni clubs in key markets to expose prospective students and their families to Creighton. Not only are these clubs gathering around games, but discussions are taking place on relevant topics, faculty are providing presentations, book clubs have been formed and much more.
“Nothing speaks to the quality of a university than the endorsement of satisfied graduates who are passionate about the education they received and want to tell others about it,” said Chase.
In addition, more admissions counselors are visiting these markets and talking about the University.
“We have also had success with involving current students, faculty and staff in our outreach to these applicants. They make phone calls, write letters and are spirited champions for Creighton. Prospective students like hearing from the university community; that personal touch has significant impact, “she added.
All this heightened awareness is also meaningful to the city of Omaha, Neb. where Creighton is located.
“People who have only thought of us as a “flyover city,” or as farmland will learn what Omaha has to offer in terms of education, lifestyle, entertainment and business.” It has an economic and brain gain impact as well as a reputational one,” she added.
About Creighton: Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., enrolls 4,000 undergraduates and 4,000 graduate and professional students among nine schools and colleges. No other university its size offers students such a comprehensive academic environment with personal attention from faculty-mentors. Jesuit and Catholic, it affords incomparable interprofessional education, bridging health professions programs with law, business and the liberal arts – all on one walkable campus. Creighton has been a top-ranked university in the U.S. News & World Report for 20 years.