Enrollment is the lifeblood of any university, and the issue is of particular importance this year as policies like Tennessee Promise make the enrollment landscape uncertain.

Last year, ETSU decided to look for better ways to communicate with potential students, and Royall and Company fit those needs best.

“Royall and Company is a higher education consulting firm that works with a number of colleges and universities across the country in helping them reach out to students,” said Brian Henley, director of admissions at ETSU. “And right now, we are just trying to increase our visibility. Partnering with them is an effective way to get our name out.”

Royall and Company partners with more than 30 colleges and universities.

“Royall and Company is higher education’s preeminent provider of data-­driven enrollment management, financial aid optimization and advancement services,” said spokesman Mark Hubbard.

Recently, admissions at ETSU has started new initiatives to better advertise the university and promote enrollment.

One reason the university turned to these initiatives was to compensate for the announcement of Tennessee Promise, which provides free tuition for two years at a community or technical college in Tennessee.

“We feel like we have a great story to tell here at ETSU,” Henley said. And we think that, while community college is great for a number of students, we just wanted to make sure that we were getting the message about ETSU out to students. We were a little bit concerned about the effect that Tennessee Promise was going to have in pulling students away from the four­-year school and driving them to the community colleges.”

Royall and Company helped ETSU purchase the names of students who had taken the ACT and SAT in specific areas within 150 miles of ETSU.

“We worked closely with them to develop communications to go to those students,” Henley said, “to help tell that ETSU story, and in many cases students had never heard of ETSU even though they were just a few miles away. The way they are helping us is through helping us to establish that visibility.”

Henley said that students at ETSU usually come from the East Tennessee region. In order to expand their reach, last year ETSU began to offer more out of state scholarships for those within a 250­-mile radius.

“Education is about learning from other people,” Henley said. “Certainly it’s about your academic work, but we think that education in a diverse environment is really the only true education.”

So far, ETSU has benefitted from these new initiatives.  

“We’re always looking for things that will help us tell our story better,” Henley said. “Education certainly is not all about the numbers, and we want to be sure that we are providing students with a solid academic experience, and I think we do that well. While we certainly saw some successes this year, we hope that we are going to be able to continue with those kinds of successes down the road. We have to stay on the vision, and we have to stay on our toes.”