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The first NACAC conference I attended was in Washington, D.C., in 1977 (Elvis had died a few months before and the first Star Wars movie was in theaters). Back then admission inquiries were kept in shoe boxes, and if you gave a school a shoe box full of inquiry cards, you got a renewal. I remember that there wasn’t even an exhibit area; tables were set up between workshop rooms, and you had an easel with your company name on a plain white poster, a table, two chairs, and an ashtray. It was a lot simpler back then, to say the least. Exhibitors were friendly rivals, enrollment folks from competing schools would be seen together at dinner, student discount rates were almost non-existent, and very few schools went overseas to recruit.

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In what was a tumultuous year for admission offices across the country, how colleges and universities measured up to their enrollment goals varied significantly.

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It’s no secret that most high school students face a deluge of offerings from colleges and universities starting as freshmen and sophomores, all the way through senior year. Although my daughter is only in 6th grade, I’m already starting to hear “college” thrown around more and more frequently—sometimes it’s even coming from me.

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Big data. I’m sure you’ve heard that term many times before. It’s a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it mean for you? As colleges and universities, you receive tons of new data every day, whether it’s from an open house where students sign up for more information, online forms, high school fairs, etc. All this data might be used to follow up with leads through phone calls or mailings, but you can also use it for something much bigger and more effective: reaching students, parents, and potential leads through digital means. You can ensure that your message is in front of your target audience’s eyes on their laptops, phones, or tablets at the right place and the right time.

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The stealth applicant effect has been around for several years now. Here at Carnegie we hear schools reporting their percentage of stealth applicants everywhere from the teens to upwards of 70%—sometimes higher. Whichever end of that spectrum you fall on, it’s likely that you and/or members of your staff have spent time worrying about how you can combat the stealth applicant “dilemma.”

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