By Daniel Jackson
During their visit to the hill April 2, twins Josh and Caleb Davis observed an Introduction to Communication class taught by Assistant Professor of Communication Studies Chris Clark, ate twice in the cafeteria (the ice cream was a hit), and now they were about to spend their first night at Bryan in the room of their campus host, John Glenn.
The stop at Bryan was part of the high school juniors’ college road trip, which also involved stops at Anderson University (Anderson, S.C.) and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Josh, who is interested in studying business or maybe law, and Caleb, who wants to study drama, both said the visit to Bryan was different: Bryan was the only college so far that allowed them to stay in the dorms and the only school that allowed them to sit in on classes.
Vice President for Enrollment Management Mike Sapienza said convincing prospective students to visit the campus is a deliberate part of the admissions office’s strategy to convince more perspective students to come to Bryan. They have found that if a student visits the campus and talks to students, they are more likely to attend Bryan.
Sapienza predicts the new class that will enter Bryan in the fall of 2013 will break enrollment records.
“We’re projecting higher and we’re praying for 300 new students, which would be a record enrollment,” Sapienza said.
While Sapienza said the admissions office is tracking toward the goal, he declined to say where the office is exactly in meeting its goal. He also declined to explain what specific strategies the admission counselors are using to reach out to perspective students.
“We don’t share that information, though,” he said,” that’s an internal process.”
The admissions office encourages visitors to sit in on classes and to talk to students. Sapienza said visitors return to the admissions office and say Bryan students were saying the same thing that the admissions department said about the school. It’s not always the case at other colleges.
“We’ll take our chances with our students representing the place,” Sapienza said.
In fall of 2011, Bryan welcomed 294 new students—six students shy of the 300 goal, after 1,038 applied. The next year, Sapienza said the admissions office tried to recruit another 300 students. However, as the summer turned to fall, they revised those projections.
According to Bryan’s institutional fact book, Bryan welcomed 249 new students to Bryan in 2012, 45 students fewer than the year before. That year 978 students applied.
It was a unique year, said Spaienza. The numbers were tracking well in the spring but the summer brought what Sapienza termed “melt.”
Students started calling the admissions office saying they would not be able to attend Bryan. For a lot of those students, Bryan was their first choice school, Sapienza said.
Sometimes the students gave reasons: their dad just lost his job, they didn’t want to borrow more money or they had to retake the ACT to get more scholarship money.
“Money was harder to come by, and it still is,” Sapienza said.
Danielle Dillard, an admissions counselor at Bryan said she and her fellow counselors reached out to more perspective students and have produced more campaigns to persuade high school students to visit Bryan.
While every day is unique, Dillard said she communicates with perspective students through face-to-face meetings, phone calls and email. She also travels to college fairs to represent the school.
When asked if she thinks the admissions office will reach their goal of 300 students, she replied, “We are all working very hard as an office and college to meet this goal. Ultimately, I believe God is going to bring the students He wants to Bryan.”
Prospective students who have been accepted by Bryan College are supposed to pay their enrollment deposit of $100 by May 1.