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The Expanse of MC's National Recruitment
MC looks to act on its national reach as competition rises and the campus community expands.
When looking at the large array of colleges in the United States, Mississippi College is a hidden gem. Firstly, MC isn’t located in a large city such as Jackson, Biloxi, or Tupelo. The university is nested into the much smaller, slower-going retirement community of Clinton. Secondly, Mississippi isn’t the most attractive state to the majority of high school students, looking at colleges. Lastly, MC is not a big university with only an average undergraduate enrollment of around 3,000 students.
Yet, over the last four years, a handful of students from non-southern states have discovered and chosen MC to obtain their undergraduate degrees. The following is a list of how many students from the U.S. that live outside of the southern region have been enrolled at MC for the last four years:
The numbers may not seem big; however, when considering the facts about MC’s location and size, it’s a wonder how these students ended up at this school. As evidenced by the data, there was a dip in the 2020-2021 enrollment most likely due to COVID-19. Since 2020, there has been a slight increase in non-southern student enrollment.
Potential students can find MC in a plethora of ways. The biggest ways are through family or friends and through the website. The website is integral to reaching potential students who live outside of a four to six hour radius of MC. Lenah Raykovitz, a transfer student from Lakewood, Wash., found MC while conducting a google search for Christian colleges.
“I went through about 40, going through pages of ‘home’, ‘about us’, ‘mission statements’, and ‘values’,” said Raykovitz, “[I was] trying to find what I felt aligned with me and my belief, religiously but also academically.”
The MC website acts as the front door to students who are not within the territory of an MC recruiter. It’s important for potential students to get a taste of what the university is like from looking at the website. Because of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), individuals from all over the world can discover MC.
“This is a process of directing interested traffic to your webpage from Search Engine search results. When a user types in a query such as, “best colleges near me,” the webpages that have been optimized to appear for searches like that will appear in the search results that are listed,” said Nick Stafford, the director of marketing at MC, “Students aren’t going to make a decision just based on a website. However, the website’s format may affect the duration of a user’s engagement.”
Raykovtiz added how vital it is for a website to be easy to find and navigate, “If [I spent more than] five minutes to figure out if the school has what it takes, then I moved on, it is helpful if [the website] is easily navigational.”
Because a number of factors influence how students make their college choice, it’s hard to measure the success of a higher education institution’s website. MC’s website strategies are dependent on user traffic.
“We try to learn which pages are visited the most, why those pages are being visited, and what could be done to the page to improve the experience,” said Stafford, “But through a deep understanding of who we’re designing for and what they like, we can create experiences that are tailored for our target audience.”
While the website brings in many potential students from all over the states, MC wants to expand its recruiting wings. Recently, MC commissioned a recruiter to California through the National Association of Christian Colleges Admissions Professionals (NAACAP). It’s an organization that puts on college fairs throughout the country.
“We are trying to grow our out-of-state market to an extent,” said Michael Wright, dean of enrollment management at MC, “We’ve got to find pockets where our price becomes very competitive, and California is definitely one of those.”
The recruiter specifically targeted potential students, who want to attend a Christian, conservative university and want to leave California.
There are multiple reasons that students from non-southern regions would find MC appealing. The biggest reason being the price. The following shows the average cost after scholarships are awarded of the top private Christian universities in the country:
Cedarville University- $23,000
Pepperdine University- $39,000
California Baptist University- $28,000
Grand Canyon University- $21,000
Colorado Christian University- $25,000
Wheaton College- $26,000
Mississippi College- $18,000
Other reasons MC would appeal to non-southerners include the type of university MC is (Christian and conservative), the warm Mississippi weather, and the size. Finding a community is also an integral part of why a student stays at a university. Raykovitz struggled to find a school in the north that aligned with her values.
“The focus [of Christian colleges in the north] is on finding yourself and being who you want to be,” said Raykovitz, “It’s hard to go [to those schools] unless you are really strong in your faith and have a firm foundation in Jesus, and I was looking for a solid Christian community.”
MC’s reputation of the pursuit of Christ and excellence has proved the test time. This value has interested students from all over the country, and students can be grateful for the family found at MC.
“[The first time that I visited] I walked into the student center, and everyone was so welcoming,” said Raykovitz, “I immediately felt at home.”
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