University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD)

Location: Duluth, MN


A medium-sized regional university, UMD serves 11,040 students with access to more than 93 degree programs. In fall 2012, with an anticipated drop in freshman enrollments, UMD wanted to prepare for this challenge by assessing its admissions and recruitment practices. After sending out a Request for Proposal, UMD chose to engage AACRAO Consulting with the goal of identifying and capturing opportunities for converting more freshman applicants into enrolled students and sustaining a larger freshman class.


After conducting secret shopping, UMD identified a number of gaps in its recruitment processes for driving yield. The university’s existing recruitment and admissions practices had not been updated in many years, and were due for an extensive overhaul. AACRAO Consulting was brought in to examine and evaluate UMD’s current recruitment approach and offer recommendations for evolving its practices to better reflect shifting student demographics and needs, and promote higher yield.


AACRAO Consulting completed an in-depth on-site review that involved interviewing members of the recruitment and admissions teams and combing through years of admissions data and trends. Throughout the extensive information-gathering process, AACRAO Consultants met regularly with leadership to update them on progress.

Based on their findings, AACRAO Consultants developed guidance to be put in place in time for the next incoming freshman class. This included a comprehensive communications plan that detailed when and how UMD would communicate with prospective and admitted students. AACRAO Consultants also worked closely with the university’s marketing firm to hone UMD’s recruitment and yield messaging used in a variety of prospective student communications. To automate and streamline student communications, AACRAO Consulting additionally assisted UMD in CRM implementation.

AACRAO Consulting also met with UMD’s financial aid department, and helped the university more clearly separate financial aid yield counseling and admissions functions. This allowed admissions staff to better focus their time and efforts on recruitment and yield, while ensuring quicker and more accurate access to financial aid information for applicants. While identifying short-term improvements, AACRAO Consulting mapped out long-term recommendations for a more strategic approach to UMD’s enrollment management moving forward.


AACRAO Consulting helped rebuild UMD’s recruitment and admissions practices from the ground-up. Two years after the initial implementation, UMD invited AACRAO Consulting to return and assess the university’s success in applying the recommendations. The results were clear.

Soon after implementing the recommendations, UMD welcomed the largest group of potential students to tour its campus to date. The university also saw the number of applicants and admitted freshman increase and, more importantly, stabilize. Between fall 2012 and fall 2018, UMD’s freshman applicants grew from 6,763 to 9,204. In the same time period, the number of admitted students grew from 5,254 to 6,843 and the number of enrolled freshmen grew from 1,881 to 2,221. The university continues to see sustainable growth for incoming freshman classes.