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Simmons College: A Case Study

Simmons College: A Case Study

Amid insufficient resources and a very small staff, Simmons College, a small, private women’s college in Boston, has increased enrollment for five consecutive years. They have experienced an increase in the numbers of applications and deposits, and the profile of the first-year class is stronger academically, more diverse ethnically and more active socially than ever before.

In 1999 Simmons College received 20,335 inquiries and 1,184 applications. They accepted 72 percent of the applicants, who on average had SAT scores of 1077. Now Simmons receives 24,949 inquiries and 2,041 applications. Enrollment went from 271 first-year students in 1999 to 417 in 2004. The percentage of minority students also increased, growing from 18 percent to 21 percent.

Dr. Diane Raymond, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Catherine Capolupo, interim director of undergraduate admissions, attribute the increase in the number of inquiries, applicants and enrollments to strategic thinking.

In years past, Simmons was not in a financial position to send out large packets of information to every student who sent an inquiry. However, by staying true to their philosophy of thinking strategically, they found other effective ways to hold students’ interest by using e-mails, postcards and phone calls. 

“Later on, students told us they really appreciated the phone calls they received from professors. It made them feel special,” Raymond says.
Raymond and Capolupo also advise that admissions departments contact interested students as soon as possible. “It’s hard to sell a women’s college. We have to start early,” Raymond says.

They also suggested building strong partnerships with other offices within the college. “Financial aid is your friend,” says Capolupo, advising admissions administrators to work with the financial aid department and not against them.

Capolupo suggests letting go of what doesn’t work. If only miniscule results can be yielded from a certain action, move on to greener pastures.

— By Michelle Nealy

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