Private liberal arts colleges across the country are forming a picture of their Class of 2017, as applications and acceptances for fall 2013 are counted. The picture at Clark University is framed in good news, as the University measures a 29 percent increase in applications, the highest number of undergraduate applications in Clark’s history.
As of Feb. 11, Clark had received 5,545 applications for fall first-year admissions. At the end of last year’s cycle, 4,297 applications had been received.
While the economic downturn, public concern over student debt, and cultural shifts regarding the promise of higher education have reduced expectations for many institutions, Clark is seeing the benefits of at least three years of intensified admissions activities, highly strategic marketing efforts, and the forming of Clark’s innovative new model of liberal education known as LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice). Early indications also suggest that the academic quality of the applicant pool remains strong.
Donald Honeman, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, attributes much of this remarkable increase to the adoption of an SAT/ACT test optional policy and to Clark’s compelling and award-winning admissions materials. The University’s realignment under the LEEP model and LEEP initiatives such as the LEEP Scholarships, which offer full tuition plus room and board for up to 10 new Clark students, also attracted prospective students and their families.
“The promise and practice of LEEP at Clark is resonating with families looking for not only an exemplary liberal education but for an education that very directly launches graduates on a career and life path.” ~ President David Angel
Honeman also acknowledges the impact of an accumulation of several years of University-wide efforts that included focused recruitment outside of the Northeast corridor, active engagement with college counselors at selected high schools, and the construction of the new visitors center that hosts programs featuring creative presentations by “one of the most talented admissions staffs and student ambassador groups you’ll find anywhere in the country.”
“The reality is that there’s no magic bullet,” Honeman says. “All of these things together have added up to Clark’s strong results. Notwithstanding, a 29 percent increase is remarkable no matter what the causes.”
Clark’s admissions staff members and others are now busy with the happy but exhausting process of preparing the way for the incoming students in fall 2013.
“The sustained commitment of the University’s innovative LEEP model is bearing fruit,” says Clark University President David Angel. “The promise and practice of LEEP at Clark is resonating with families looking for not only an exemplary liberal education but for an education that very directly launches graduates on a career and life path.”
Clark VP of Marketing and Communications Paula David notes that, “just 20 months into a five-year strategic plan, the University’s recent admission-cycle spike in applications indicates that Clark is responding to the needs of the marketplace. We’ve listened to what employers, students and families are saying.”
Spurring the University’s momentum is a clear, consistent marketing plan that is “more aggressive in getting the word out about Clark.”
The Class of 2017 is the first to be recruited fully under the LEEP model, David notes. “Clark has been renowned as a college that changes lives. Now it is being seen as a transformative force in higher education.”
Read about Clark in the Worcester Sunday Telegram Business Matters cover feature: Colleges use new tools to reel in new students (Feb. 10)
Founded in 1887 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Clark University is a small, liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale. Nationally renowned as a college that changes lives, Clark is emerging as a transformative force in higher education today. LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) is Clark’s pioneering model of education that combines a robust liberal arts curriculum with life-changing world and workplace experiences. Clark’s faculty and students work across boundaries to develop solutions to contemporary challenges in the areas of psychology, geography, management, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. The Clark educational experience embodies the University’s motto: Challenge convention. Change our world. www.clarku.edu