Producing a Fruitful Yield
Alumni Interview Program Supports Enrollment Efforts
If anyone can identify a future Hawk, it’s a Hawk alumnus. With that in mind, the National Alumni Board of the Saint Joseph’s University Alumni Association launched a pilot program this past fall for alumni to interview prospective SJU students.
Headed by 35-year human resources veteran Frank Sharp ’67, the initiative aims to increase the University’s applicants and admissions yield, the percent of students who enroll after being offered admission. A higher yield rate indicates greater selectivity, which makes the University a more sought-after destination for high schoolers and adds value to an SJU degree.
The 20-minute interview focused on the student’s “fit” for the SJU culture, community and campus life. Interviewers gauged the students’ overall interest in Saint Joseph’s, preparedness for the interview, intellectual curiosity and commitment to personal interests like activities, clubs and athletics. Their assessment is added to the prospective student’s admission file and taken into consideration during the admissions decision-making process.
More than 50 alumni interviewed 84 students from the areas surrounding Boston College High School, St. Peter’s Preparatory School in Jersey City, N.J., Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, Md., and on campus during open houses. Of those students, 81 applied, 60 were accepted and 26 submitted a deposit. The resulting 43 percent yield rate is more than double the University’s usual.
“We were very happy with the results,” said Rose Bouchard ’06, regional assistant director of undergraduate admission. “Being our first year, I think the 43 percent is a strong reflection of the efforts we have made.”
“The interviewees see alumni really care about the future of the school,” she said. “The interviewers see the bright, young students are excited and attracted to their alma mater.” — Kailee Farrell ’07
Sharp was encouraged by the results, saying “The consensus is that the program had a significant impact on the ultimate enrollment decision. We’re going beyond normal admissions process, giving the students a high-touch opportunity to connect with someone close to their age who can give them a live sense of what this experience is going to be like.”
NAB member Kailee Farrell ’07 participated in the interviews during an on-campus open house and came away impressed by the “bright and industrious young adults” who want to come to SJU.
“I didn’t necessarily give them advice,” said the attorney from Washington, D.C., who communicated via email with several interviewees after they met. “But I told them stories about my time at SJU. It can be important for alumni to be involved in the admission process because we already know what makes the school tick. We can provide personal anecdotes and reinforce why SJU is an excellent choice.”
The interviews are mutually beneficial, according to Farrell.
“The interviewees see alumni really care about the future of the school,” she said. “The interviewers see the bright, young students are excited and attracted to their alma mater. It makes both sets of people feel good in the end.”
Sharp didn’t participate in any prospective student interviews, but rather spoke to parents, who have altogether different concerns than their children, the main one being “What’s the return on investment?” according to Sharp.
“Most parents are interested in learning more about SJU and if it makes sense for their children,” he said. “My message to parents was ‘this is a great community and the alumni you’re meeting here are shining examples of what SJU can do for your children.’”
For the 2016-17 admissions cycle, the program will be expanded to include interview opportunities in Baltimore and Long Island.
If you’re interested in serving as an alumni interviewer, contact Director of Alumni Networks Shannon Groves at 610-660-3294.
– By Kevin Kaufman
If you don’t have the opportunity to conduct prospective student interviews, another great way to assist in the recruiting next generation of Hawks is the Hawk Ambassadors program. Alumni are the best people to share what an SJU education can do for prospective students and you can do so by attending college fairs, hosting welcome receptions for incoming students in your areas and call admitted students and their parents to answer questions about SJU.
Volunteer today to start spreading the message about the benefits of a Jesuit education and the undergraduate experience at Saint Joseph’s University. Every Hawk Ambassador makes a difference.
To become a Hawk Ambassador, please complete and submit a volunteer application form. If you are interested in the program and have additional questions, please contact Rose McGovern Bouchard ’06 at 610-660-1350.