Survey attempts to increase enrollment

By Tara Kulash

Students can now give their feedback of the university in survey form.

An email to students on their SIU accounts asks what drew them to the institution, what they like and dislike about it, and what’s kept them here. The survey is part of the marketing and branding project to increase enrollment, Chancellor Rita Cheng said.

Cheng hired the firm Lipman Hearne in fall 2010 to critique the university’s recruitment methods, admissions process, promotional materials and other ways of communication with prospective students. The firm was hired to help reverse the university’s declining enrollment rates.


Michael Ruiz, director of university communications, said the firm has worked successfully with many universities in the nation to increase their enrollment. He said SIUC has budgeted about $2 million to the company — $1 million for the advertisement placements and $1 million for the firm’s services.

The purpose of the survey is to see how effective the marketing project has been for students, Cheng said.

“We are interested in making sure our message to prospective students and parents is effective,” she said. “We want to make sure that the experiences of students here are communicated in our advertising.”

Charles Leonard, a university communications staff member, said the survey is meant to evaluate the firm’s efforts so far. He said the survey will be given again in a few years to track further progress.

“We need to do research now, and then we need to do the same research several years from now after we’ve had this campaign going to see what it is that goes into the decision for choice of college,” Cheng said.

Leonard said the firm came up with the questions for the survey and  that university communications was also given a chance to give input.

The survey asks what other colleges the student applied and got accepted to and what attracted them to SIUC at first. It asks if students find the campus safe and if it has become more or less appealing since enrollment. Options for priorities that drew students include investment in new facilities, diversity, beautiful campus, research opportunities, mentorship and high academic programs. The survey even asks students if the November faculty strike swayed their opinion of the university.


One problem with the survey, though, is how many students actually take it.

Chris Jordan, a senior from O’Fallon, Mo., studying history, and Taylor Sweetin, a senior from Nashville studying history, said they don’t check their university emails, so they didn’t know about the survey.

Gillian Kinney, a junior from Chicago studying public relations, said she doesn’t check her SIUC email either, but if she did, she would probably take the survey.

“It’s a good incentive, but I don’t know how many people would do it because I don’t know how many people actually check their email,” Kinney said.

Dennis Major, a sophomore from Flora studying biochemistry, said he checks his SIUC email but hasn’t even noticed a survey in his inbox.

However, Sheng-Tao Fan, a graduate student in speech communication from Taiwan, said he checks his university email regularly and took the survey. He said he thought the survey had a broad range of questions, and he liked the rating system.

Cheng said she doesn’t know yet when she will get the results of how many students took the survey and their feedback.