Understanding the college choice process among underrepresented students

October 19, 2020
  • AACRAO SEM-EP
  • Competencies
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Enrollment Management

Todd Audyatis, Associate Dean of Admissions for Community Outreach at Bridgewater State University, was working on his AACRAO SEM Endorsement capstone project when he discovered information that would become immeasurably helpful to his institution.

Targeted marketing

“For my capstone, I did a literature review, and had the flexibility to tailor that to my circumstances in real time which was a huge value-added to me as a professional and for my institution,” Audyatis said. “My review was of literature that looks at how African American students make their final college choices — specifically what factors influence where they choose to enroll.”

BSU had recently implemented the Common App, and saw, not unexpectedly, a huge uptick in application volume and a lower yield rate. However, there was a significant decline in yield among admitted students of color, and Audyatis wants to understand why. 

“That bothered me because we had a significant increase in the number of students of color who applied and were admitted, yet we couldn’t get as many as we would’ve liked across the threshold,” he said. “One thing I discovered was this ongoing debate: should campuses market specifically to students of color, or should it be part of a larger marketing process, say, to first-generation students?”

Reading and understanding various aspects of this debate helped Ayudatis prepare to have this conversation on his campus.

“In the day of electronic communication, social media, and CRM, we can be so targeted in our efforts. It seems crazy to me that we would not market specifically to students of color, particularly at this time, and with the understanding that students have such different experiences.” Audyatis said. “And now I can help push that agenda forward with the specific history of where some of these competing ideas originate.”

For example, BSU can present themselves as a better alternative for Black students by framing marketing around the work BSU has done in the last 10 years to effectively close the achievement gap, improving retention and graduation rates for students of color, according to Audyatis. He’s looking forward to conducting more research and implementing what he’s learned in the SEM process on his campus. 

For more details, keep an eye out for Audyatis’ upcoming article regarding this literature review, to be published in the winter issue of C&U.

40th graduate of SEM-EP

Audyatis is proud to be the 40th graduate of AACRAO’s SEM-EP. 

“I chose this program because it’s self-directed, so I could fit it into my schedule, and more affordable than most alternatives,” Audyatis said. “The program allowed me to address my cognitive blind spots and really helped me to get a bigger picture of the roles of enrollment, admissions and the registrar in the SEM process.

“The field visits were also incredibly helpful,” he added. “I’m thankful to have had the chance to do that, because we all share similar struggles. It helped me to develop a peer group, colleagues with whom I now have a rapport when I see them and whom I can call with questions.”

Learn more about AACRAO’s SEM Endorsement Program.