School of Business gets creative to affect positive change on enrollment numbers
A small group of student workers, known as the BizHounds Team, has helped the University of Indianapolis School of Business increase deposits by 20 percent in the last year, while the national enrollment average is decreasing.
Associate finance professor Matt Will, who founded and leads the BizHounds Team, credits creative, peer-to-peer recruitment strategies for the program’s success.
“After five years of declining enrollment, I developed the idea of having students help recruit new students,” he said. “My thought was that students are more in touch with high school prospects than the rest of us, and they would trust and relate better to someone their own age.”
BizHounds officially launched in the winter of 2013 with two student workers. Within the first year, Will says, enrollment trends reversed and the School of Business saw a 10 percent increase, a pattern that has continued since.
Four students – Emily Sands ‘18 (finance), Claire Gilbert ‘18 (marketing), Olivia Vormohr ‘20 (finance) and Jenna Whitmore ‘21 (business administration) – are staffed on the BizHounds team, where they focus on recruitment and engagement activities. Goals center around getting students to apply, convincing them to make deposits, converting deposits to on-campus attendance and engaging new freshman in activities to get involved.
“Looking for the right college is a scary time in life,” Gilbert said. “There are a lot of things you don’t know and high schoolers are looking for help. We make a real effort to relate to them and to make personal connections.”
The group meets weekly with faculty advisors (Will and Andre Givens, Director of Undergraduate Enterprise and Engagement for the School of Business) to brainstorm new ideas and collaborate on existing projects.
“This wouldn’t work if we weren’t a team,” Gilbert said. “I’m lucky to be part of this program. A lot of people don’t realize we have the perks of a large school, but also the opportunities and personal relationships of a small school. It’s a perfect combination.”
The BizHounds Team travels to events in the region and across the country to promote the University. In 2017, the group visited Orlando for their first national conference. In March 2018, they spoke locally at a Business Professionals of America (BPA) conference to an audience of about 300 and in May 2018, they traveled to Dallas for the 52nd Annual BPA National Leadership Conference to continue expanding recruitment efforts beyond the Midwest.
“We’ve learned that high schoolers respond best to stories, so we used our own experiences to cater to the needs of potential future UIndy students and to better connect with them,” Gilbert explained.
As Will points out, these experiences have benefits beyond recruitment.
“If we’ve taught them well in how to be business professionals, these opportunities are an avenue for them to practice what they have learned.”