Attracting Prospective Students

With more than 3,000 in attendance, the Fall Open House makes an impression.

The college’s Enrollment Management team has been working hard this year on strengthening recruitment and reaching out to prospective students. While most of the long-term approaches are currently being reviewed and planned out, it didn’t stop the Open House team from making a few adjustments to get some immediate results.

On Nov. 7, Columbia College hosted more than 3,000 attendees at the annual Fall Open House. This included prospective high school students, transfer students and their guests. With more than 400 faculty, staff and current students on hand to guide the attendants, the day highlighted the many talents and resources of the entire Columbia community.

Ania Greiner, Director of Events and Services for Enrollment Management, led a team of staff and faculty to mount the biannual event. This was her 21st Open House in ten years and she was thrilled by this year’s turnout.

“I’m always so moved at every Open House that the entire college comes together to pull off this enormous event,” says Greiner. “All of our faculty, staff and students are so extremely passionate about this school and the work we do and that excitement definitely comes across at Open House.”

The day-long event began with a Welcome Session at the Auditorium Theatre with keynotes and a multimedia performance. President Kim spoke about the value of a liberal arts education and the importance of creative professionals in the 21st century.

Jeff Meece, Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management, started in July of this year and is leading the charge in assessing new student enrollment processes. For this year’s event, he developed a pilot on digital ticketing to track attendants. This will allow the Enrollment Management team to better assess the impact of Open House and track year-to-year rates. Enhancements like this will also be considered in the ongoing assessment phase and long-term strategy toward strengthening enrollment.

Like with Open House events from the past, the Welcome Session included a brief multimedia showcase with presentations from the film, dance, and music departments. This was followed by more than 40 breakaway sessions and networking events within specific departments.

Since more and more students have become interested in exploring different majors, many students visited at least two academic departments. The faculty-led tours of facilities, the student performances and the residence centers were other major highlights for those in attendance. 

“We heard so much terrific feedback from prospective students who realized that Columbia is their dream school and they cannot wait to attend,” says Greiner.

Every year, the Fall Open House is a vibrant event where current and future communities of Columbia meet. Many attendants go on to enroll as a result of all of the excitement around the event. Here is a sampling from the social media activity from that day.

The Open House in the Spring, which attracts more newly-admitted students, is slated for April 2016.