New Admissions Strategy Sparks Increase in School Interest
High school seniors around the country placed deposits on May 1 to confirm the college that they would be attending in the fall. The number of new student applications at King’s has surpassed the total number of applications submitted last year due to new strategies put forward by the admissions team.
Over 1,000 more applications have been submitted and 65 percent more deposits were made this past February than there were at the same time last year according to Patterson Tompkins, a first-semester senior at King’s, and as the new Student Engagement Coordinator.
“My new position gives me the opportunity to be a liaison between the student body and the admissions team,” said Tompkins.
Tompkins leads the student ambassador team, as well as the tour squad. When he was a freshman, the upperclassmen were cynical about the future of King’s. In Tompkins’ new position, he is seeking to completely get rid of this stigma, and encourage the student body to look forward to the growth of our school.
The Vice President for Strategic Planning, Kimberly Thornbury, explained that the admissions team has been working on a new strategy to bring new students into our school. The new admissions strategy, Thornbury said, is a “courtship” between new students and King’s, rather than just “speed dating.”
“High school students are attracted to lots of Christian colleges, but King’s is updating and prioritizing their strategy to ensure that students fall in love with King’s and stay married all four years,” Thornbury said.
There are several main ways that the admissions team is implementing this “courtship” strategy this year. Noah Hunter, the Director of Admissions and New Student Financial Services, is the brains behind this new strategy.
“When I took my role about two years ago, I kind of restructured parts of the admissions department,” he said. “My role is to set strategy for the office, including what INVISO looks like, where we travel to, the technology we leverage…”
He says that there are two main differences between the old strategy and the new: communication and timing, as well as intentionally choosing their student ambassador team.
In years prior, the admissions team sent mass emails in July and August to high school seniors. With new changes going into effect, the admissions team now sends emails to juniors in February so there is a longer period of time to reach prospective students. Additionally, applications are now available to be completed in early June, giving students more time to apply and put their deposit down sooner.
“We’ve known for a long time that students find out about us late in the process, maybe the beginning of their senior year,” Hunter said.“By that point, they already have a list of colleges in mind. We just figured that we aren’t catching them early enough. In our new strategy, we’ve built out a more comprehensive junior communication plan.”
In addition, because of the growing interest for King’s, the admissions team is able to be more intentional with choosing their ambassador team and tour squad. Tompkins says that this year’s group of ambassadors is “easily the best group in King's recent history.”
The main goal of this “marrying” strategy is finding students that are going to fit the mold of The King’s College.
“King’s students obviously come in a lot of different forms,” Hunter said. He said that the admissions team doesn’t mainly take into account the demographics such as home location, political background, gender, public vs. private school, etc.
“Yes, there are quotas and percentages we have to make, but we try and keep the admissions process pretty open in terms of where students are from, major they’re interested in,” Hunter explained. “We recruit nationally and we pick up the students that are interested in what we are saying.”
INVISO weekends are one of the main ways that the admissions team interacts with incoming high school students face-to-face, and students with different demographics visit from all around the country to see if King’s is where they will be for their next chapter of life.
“I like King’s because of the community,” said Sydney Farrar, a high school student visiting for INVISO from Maine. “It’s super interesting that faith is such a big part of school. I never had that growing up.”
“A school in Manhattan is so different,” said Mason Dornan, a high school senior from Michigan. He said that he plans on coming to King’s for business. “I’m not a fan of colleges forcing you to be a certain religious commitment, but I think King’s has a good balance of allowing students to make their own religious decisions.”
“Generally we are looking for someone who feels a connection to the mission,” Hunter said. “When we explain the mission to them, the most ideal thing is whether through a Founder’s scholarship process or leadership scholarship or an entrance interview, they engage in the mission, internalize it and say why it’s important to them.”
He also says that if students are only interested in coming to King’s for New York or aren’t interested in learning from a Biblical worldview, the admissions team knows that those students won’t enjoy a school like King’s for four years. Admissions is well aware of this issue and knows that those students could affect the college’s retention rate.
“Six years ago, TKC’s retention rate was only 60 percent, but it now rests at 79 percent, well above the national average of 74 percent,” Tompkins said. The admissions team is able to recognize when students understand the Christian mission of King’s, as well as the rigorous curriculum and the challenges of city living.
“King’s is growing,” Hunter said. “But there isn’t a high enough demand across the board that we want you and not you. Each of you will contribute to the community differently, but those small details don’t really matter.”
King’s is growing, but not too much yet. The class of 2022 is around 180, and Hunter estimates that next year’s incoming class of 2023 will be around 201 students. For the future, the admissions team hopes that new strategies being implemented today will cause growth tomorrow in both the number of students attending and those willing to live out the message of King’s.