What Samford University Is Doing to Remain Competitive and Diversify Its Applicant Pool

Samford University—a private, faith-based institution in Birmingham, Alabama—offers more than 30 health-related degrees through its College of Health Sciences and expects to add 5,000 students there by 2020. To manage that demand—and keep quality metrics high—Dr. Nena Sanders, vice provost of the College of Health Sciences, charged her assistant dean of enrollment management and student services, Dr. Marian Carter, with implementing Liaison’s Centralized Application Services (CASTM) across the College’s schools and programs.

Samford adopted PharmCAS in 2003, and based on the positive impact it had on their School of Pharmacy, Dr. Sanders next chose to be an early adopter of NursingCAS. Since then, the university has joined four additional Centralized Application Services to help manage admissions for programs in communication science and disorders (CSDCAS), athletic training (ATCAS), physical therapy (PTCAS), and nutrition (DICAS). In the next year, the College plans to add CASs for occupational therapy (OTCAS) and health administration (HAMPCAS). In addition, the University has licensed UniCAS, a powerful enrollment management platform that supports a comprehensive view of admissions across the entire institution while also allowing programs unaf liated with an association-sponsored CAS to utilize a congruent platform.

Jon Parker, assistant director of admissions at Samford’s McWhorter School of Pharmacy, recalled the immediate difference the school experienced when they joined PharmCAS: In their rst year as part of PharmCAS, applications increased by 125% (from 652 to 1467), and the processing time was lower than it had been for the previous year. Since then, the School of Pharmacy has maintained a ratio of over four applicants for every seat, even while the national applicant pool dropped.

Further, the superior work ows in the CAS systems have led to more ef cient processing of complex applications. Marian cited the GPA calculation service as a game changer. She estimated that easier application processing through tools available in CAS saves her an entire FTE—and allows the staff she does have to focus on customer service—creating better experiences for prospective students.

With a 98% graduate rate, the School of Pharmacy had a strong reputation regionally. By joining PharmCAS, Jon pointed out, the school achieved “a global reach, with access to any student in the world who wants to go to pharmacy.” That extended reach will also help other schools in the College of Health Sciences reach their goals for growth.

The robust analytics delivered with every CAS are also helping Jon and Marian work more strategically to meet enrollment goals. Standard reports built into the system allow them to gain a deeper understanding of their applicant pools for more targeted recruiting.

Because most associations collect and aggregate data from schools and programs participating in a CAS, programs in Samford’s College of Health Sciences will be able to compare their quality metrics with national averages. Demographic reports will also help them understand trends; even accreditation and self-study reports can be set up and easily run at year’s end. “It allows you to look at your current strategies to see what’s working,” said Marian.

For Jon, the data says it all: “We’ve seen that we are getting excellent applicants every year from new schools and new regions, and it has brought our program to the forefront. In a highly competitive market, we’ve been able to maintain our high standards and ll our classes.”

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