Increasing enrollment is one of the top priorities of the Hopes & Aspirations High vision for Texas State University’s future. President Damphousse established a Recruitment Task Force that implemented strategies to increase enrollment among international, transfer, master’s and online students. TXST has executed several additional strategies that build on the work of the task force.
Texas State has experienced notable success in implementing the following enrollment initiatives:
- Added a second undergraduate application option (the “Common App”). We have received 16,200+ common applications for Fall 2023, and have seen significant increases in out-of-state and international freshman applications.
- Optimized our scholarship plan to remain competitive. The number of accepted First Time in College merit awards are up 12.8%.
- Implemented a new transfer scholarship program. The overall scholarship acceptance rate has increased 11%.
- Developed new transfer articulation agreements with community colleges and external partnerships with public schools.
- Added additional graduate student recruitment events (e.g., online information sessions, fairs, and outreach to institutions without graduate degree programs).
- Raised the annual cap TXST pays through international recruiting agencies from $150,000 to $1 million. Costs associated with international student recruitment are recuperated through tuition.
- Merged marketing and communications units into their own division under the leadership of a new Cabinet-level position, the vice president for marketing and communications, held by Sandy Pantlik.
Recruitment efforts are paying off. The latest available application data indicate we are on track for a record-breaking enrollment this fall. Other successes to celebrate include:
- For the first time in our history, TXST is first among Texas universities in freshman applications submitted through “Apply Texas” for Fall 2023.
- Attendance at Bobcat Days, our premier open house event, was the highest ever recorded. Combined, attendance at our four Bobcat Day events for 2022-2023 was 7,085 prospective students, a 42% increase over 2021-2022.
- “Bring Bobcats Back,” a unique recruitment program for stop-outs, enrolled 143 former Bobcats this summer and 247 are registered for Fall 2023.
To support TXST’s global aspirations and explore online educational initiatives, President Damphousse created a Vice President for Global. After an extensive national search, Dr. Thilla Sivakumaran joined TXST to lead the new Division of TXST Global. He has set in motion several key initiatives including:
- Issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for domestic and international online operational management service providers to help market and recruit international and domestic students to online degree programs offered by TXST.
- Issuing an RFP to add approximately 50 new international recruiting agents.
- Creating continuing education programming for the Round Rock Campus.
- Preparing to launch TXST Online in Summer and Fall 2024, which will offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs.
The latest metrics show recent strategies have made an impact:
- Online: Today, we offer nearly 150% more sections online than we did pre-pandemic.
- International: As of June 2023, undergraduate applications and admits for Fall 2023 are up 520% and 241%, respectively, over last year. Graduate applications and admits are up by 6.6% and 27.6%, respectively.
This new global emphasis will likely include changing the Office of Distance and Extended Learning to an entrepreneurial enterprise model, conducting a holistic review of the current funding structure for online learning and international affairs, engaging with external partners to market programs to both domestic and international markets, and providing incentives and strategic planning guidelines for degree programs to redesign face-to-face or hybrid programs to be fully online, scalable programs that can be marketed to large student populations.
President Damphousse established the Recruitment Task Force and charged its members to:
- conduct a comprehensive review of recruitment practices at TXST
- benchmark them against Emerging Research Universities and national aspirants and peers
- review institutional need-based and merit-based financial aid award and scholarship strategies
- and recommend to Cabinet recruitment strategies to increase international, transfer, and master’s student enrollment, as well as online enrollment.
The group was not asked to develop strategies to grow freshmen or PhD enrollment (with the latter being addressed by the Presidential Commission on the Run to R1).
In Fall 2022, Texas State set enrollment records in the number of new undergraduate and graduate students (11,344) and freshmen (7,573). Overall enrollment, however, continues to lag expectations and potential.
After peaking in Fall 2016 with 38,808 students, TXST experienced four years of steady decline. In the Fall of 2023, overall enrollment topped 38,000 students for the first time since 2019. A deep dive into the data reveals many opportunities to grow enrollment.
Fall 2023, for example, we saw declines in new transfer students (-13%) and new master’s students (-18%); only 5% of our students came from outside of Texas; only 1.6% of our students are enrolled exclusively in an online degree program; and only 14.2% of our sections are offered fully online.
"We must help more people join in the college experience, because we know how life-changing it is – not just for each graduate, but for generations to come. Texas State ranks first in the state for helping at-risk students graduate, including non-traditional students and those whose families fall below the federal poverty threshold. So, when we grow enrollment at Texas State, we’re making an impact no other university in the state of Texas can claim."
- President Kelly Damphousse