News - Be Our Guest: Personal Connection Drives Enrollment

Be Our Guest: Personal Connection Drives Enrollment

By Carla Morris

Karl HattonWhen Karl Hatton assumed duties as dean of admissions at Greenville College last year, he stepped into a lion’s den. Challenges roared from every direction:

  • Morale on campus sank as budget woes in the State of Illinois left about one-third of GC’s students without promised funding.
  • Competition intensified as universities in neighboring states took advantage of Illinois’ economic hardships and aggressively recruited graduates from Illinois high schools—GC’s primary source for incoming freshmen.
  • Untimely turnovers in personnel left Hatton’s office understaffed.

So, why is Hatton smiling a year later?

Once the dust settled, the recruitment effort at GC registered a surprisingly strong finish. Even more encouraging, it registered a strong start this fall with the new cycle. Hatton cites three contributing factors that helped to tame the troubles:

  • a young, energetic team of admissions counselors who radiate an infectious enthusiasm for GC;
  • a sound recruiting plan that has already yielded a 33 percent increase in applications over last year; and
  • contact with high school seniors who are a good fit for GC’s programs and atmosphere.

“We are connecting with high school students who want to be at Greenville College,” says Hatton. This is good news.

Doing What We Do Best: Connecting Personally

Hatton also attributes the turnaround to leveraging what GC has always done best: connection on a personal level.

Six times each year, President Filby welcomes high school students and their parentsPanther-Sign to college “Preview Days.” Between structured activities, he draws them into conversation and learns about them, a rarity for presidents at most schools.

Later, Provost Edwin Estevez also engages the guests with his characteristic liveliness and warmth. 

At midday, the students lunch with professors who share their academic interests, while in another room, their parents lunch with the parents of current students. The conversations inevitably veer toward learning about each other and sharing personal experiences.

The conversational format accomplishes what presentations and programs cannot. “We inadvertently hit a home run when we were just trying to bunt,” says Hatton.

Since the start of the school year, without fail, participants in Preview Day have expressed their appreciation to Hatton, adding that the experience sealed GC as their number one choice.

“This tells us that we’re doing something right,” he says.

With a solid strategy in place and enthusiastic team to help him work the strategy, Hatton can now set his sights on expanding GC's reach by deepening connections with high school juniors this spring.

Engaging college-bound students earlier, especially those who are a good fit for GC, will help to keep those roaring challenges at bay. 

Learn More

Meet Karl Hatton: GC’s New Dean of Admissions

Meet the Counselors

Jump Start – High School Students Can Earn College Credit at GC

You can help Karl and his admissions team by telling a college-bound student about GC today!

This story was published on March 02, 2017

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