After a record-setting year, Wofford College’s Director of Admission Megan Tyler and her staff knew last January they had their work cut out for them to duplicate that success.
And then came COVID.
Despite the challenges created by the ongoing pandemic, applications for fall 2021 grew by 5.3%. That comes on top of the 9% increase for fall 2020.
“This year we were uncertain what we would see,” Tyler says. “To have an increase coming off a record year positions us really well to enroll a strong class for next fall.”
When the virus exploded and everything began shutting down last year, Tyler and her staff had to adapt quickly. Events that were scheduled to be in-person had to be held virtually, staff members had to learn new skills and implement new strategies quickly to reach prospective students.
“We didn’t have time to wait,” Tyler says. “We knew immediately that events we had planned would have to move to virtual. We hit the ground running.”
Crystal Crawford, director of admission marketing and communication and data, said she was impressed by the staff’s ability to adapt quickly and use all the virtual options at their disposal. She said the Wofford community joined the effort, with current students doing Terrier Talks and faculty members doing interest calls via Zoom, and admission counselors doing one-on-one Zoom calls.
“We had to adjust our communications flow,” Crawford says. “We also did a push to send hand-written notes to students, and we used brief texts. We had to find ways to do what we normally do without being in-person.”
Tyler says the increase in applications Wofford is experiencing now is the result of hard work that has gone on for years. She says the college has greater visibility, and it is paying dividends.
“I believe at my core this is a reflection of the nature of the Wofford community,” Tyler says. “This success takes everybody – alumni, students, faculty and staff. Our success does not belong to us. All members of the Wofford community past and present should be excited because it’s something they contributed to.”
With the struggles caused by COVID-19, Tyler says this year’s increase in applications may put Wofford in elite company.
“Earlier in the fall I had lots of conversations with different people in the field,” Tyler says. “I do believe it is unusual for us to be up in applications given the information I’ve heard from people at other institutions. We’re fortunate to be in this boat. It’s a position a lot of colleges would like to be in.”