How a tribal college is keeping enrollment steady

Diné College offered students a 50% discount and the chance to stay close to home this spring
By: | January 26, 2021
Diné College ramped up social media marketing in its successful efforts to maintain enrollment this spring.Diné College ramped up social media marketing in its successful efforts to maintain enrollment this spring.

Diné College is bucking COVID enrollment disruptions that are hitting particularly hard at institutions that serve more minorities and lower-income families.

The rural Arizona school, formerly known as Navajo Community College, reports that spring enrollment has held steady despite the surging pandemic.

“It’s an unusual and unfortunate situation that we are in with this pandemic,” says Priscilla Leonard, the director of enrollment management. “But we have good numbers which I attribute to a very committed enrollment management team, marketing and communications department, the admissions office, registrar’s office, the academic advisors, program coordinators and financial aid reps.”

Leaders at the four-year tribal college report total enrollment of 1,233 for the spring 2021 semester, compared to 1,261 in the spring of 2020.


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There are 138 more part-time students and 77 transfer students, compared with 87 transfers from the fall semester, Leonard said.

“In fact, some students couldn’t get into the classes they wanted during online registration because classes were full,”added George Joe, director of marketing and communications . “As a result, we have more part-time status students this semester.”

Students were drawn to the college by a 50% discount offer and the chance to stay close to home during the pandemic, Joe said.

“Nationwide, the few colleges that have experienced an enrollment increase are attributing the increase to those same reasons.” Joe added,

The marketing and communications department spent more on targeted social media advertisements than ever before, installed new billboards off the reservation, ran radio advertisements in three markets and sent direct mail piece to 28,000 households on the Navajo reservation, Joe said.

“It was the social media aspect that had the impact this time around,” Joe said.

The college’s six campuses remain closed to non-students and visitors as a means.

Diné College, which is located on the Navajo reservation and has campuses in Arizona and New Mexico, offers 12 bachelor’s degrees, 20 associates degrees and nine certificate programs.


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