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Drake reports positive results from innovative recruitment campaign

September 3, 2010
Since the launch of Drake's new undergraduate student recruitment campaign, inquiries from prospective students and campus visits have increased significantly.

The Drake Advantage initiative, which includes a viewbook and other printed materials as well as a newly designed admission website, www.drake.edu/advantage, began in July.

During July and August, campus visits totaled 726, up 23 percent from 589 in the same period last year. Inquiries, via phone, mail, e-mail and website, climbed 66 percent from 2,914 to 4,856. A one-month comparison of website traffic to the undergraduate admission landing page shows that page views more than doubled, even before the Drake Advantage attracted widespread media attention.

"Those are remarkable numbers that tell us our campaign is working beyond expectation," said Tom Delahunt, vice president for admission.

The stylized D+ graphic used on the cover of marketing materials has generated controversy among some members of the Drake community and beyond. To view a pdf version of the viewbook, visit this link.

The design element was intended to pique interest among high school students who are inundated with a plethora of materials from many schools. Drake took this bold, calculated risk after months of work involving Drake's Admission Office, Marketing and Communications Office and Stamats Communications, as well as extensive research with the target audience of high school students aged 15-17.

In a survey of nearly 1,000 high school students across the Midwest and the nation, more than three-quarters of the respondents indicated the brochure cover grabbed their attention and nearly 90 percent felt the concept was unique from other college and university materials they have seen. When asked if the Drake Advantage concept conveyed that "attending Drake would give me a distinct advantage that might not be available from other colleges and universities," 75 percent of the participants responded affirmatively.

Perhaps most importantly, more than 60 percent of those who completed the survey indicated that receiving a brochure based on the Drake Advantage concept would make them more likely to want additional information about the University.

"Without a doubt what makes it most attention-grabbing is at first glance it does look like a grade, so people take a second look at it," Delahunt said of the D+ graphic. "Our average student has an ACT of about 27 and a high school GPA of over 3.7. We are talking about pretty bright kids who get the irony of it. We are differentiating ourselves from other colleges and universities."

Admission counselors in the field report the Drake Advantage is being well received by prospective students and even high school counselors.

"They say the students and counselors think it's ironic and 'get it,' plus the attention-grabbing materials provide an opportunity to discuss Drake's many advantages," Delahunt said. "They also report that the Drake Advantage is a more effective than the campaign of the previous two years."

University officials will continue to monitor feedback about the Drake Advantage campaign from alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends of the University throughout the admission cycle.