Marketing suggestions proposed to boost enrollment

Jessica Bursztynsky, IV Leader Associate Editor

IVCC’s enrollment has been steadily decreasing at both the main campus and the Ottawa center in the past years.

Over 3,200 students enrolled in 27,925 credit hours for the spring 2016 semester, showing a decrease of 150 students and 2,000 credit hours when compared to the previous spring.

Last year, as an effort to combat the decrease in enrollment, IVCC’s board of trustees approved a $70,500 one-year contract with Interact Communications.

The contract, signed in August 2015, included an assessment of community needs, marketing plans and an advertising plan that covered a strong social media presence.

IVCC formed both the Enrollment Task Force, focusing on short-term changes, and the Strategic Enrollment Management Committee, a long-term committee, to understand what is needed to bring students to IVCC and to work along Interact.
School officials also believe the recent opening of the student life center and cyber café will help raise attendance.

“Unique programming, whether it be academic or extracurricular, can help attract and retain students,” Mark Grzybowski , IVCC’s associate vice president for student services, stated.

IVCC hopes the contract with Interact will provide the Enrollment Task Force with the necessary tools and strategies needed for enrollment growth.

“[Interact] are the expert in the educational marketing sector,” Grzybowski believes. The decision for IVCC to work with Interact had been a unanimous decision, after assessing eight proposals and interviewing three firms.

Interact has currently only presented a rough proposal of different strategies to use, which IVCC is already taking into account.
Fran Brolley, IVCC director of Community Relations and Development, believes a strong social media presence, as suggested by Interact, is a key to raising attendance.

“[Interact] want us to do a complete redo of our website and to use our content management system more effectively,” said Brolley. “It’s an inexpensive way to market and it’s where young people are and many adults as well.”

Last semester, students were able to take part in an online media preference survey, orchestrated by Interact, as a way to decide what media platforms IVCC could best market on.

Interact is also encouraging IVCC to do a brand study and a core identity piece.

“Our current brand, they say, is focused on the traditional student, younger high school graduates, when working adults are definitely a critical audience as well,” Brolley said.

The Enrollment Task Force was given a first draft of Interact’s strategic plan on Jan. 20, and had a conference call with Interact CEO Pam Cox Otto on Feb. 10.

According to Brolley, Otto will be visiting IVCC in late February or early March for a work day. Interact will present the Enrollment Task Force a final plan after the visit from Otto.

“They believe the community needs to see IVCC in a new light,” Brolley stated.