To Attract Under-Represented Student Groups, Colleges Should Consider Personal Letters and Texts

Royall & Company survey also shows minority and first-generation students are more likely than other students to start their college search earlier

Feb 11, 2016, 10:54 ET from The Advisory Board Company

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Minority, first-generation, and low-income students are more likely than their counterparts to find personal letters and texts helpful in choosing a school, according to a national survey of 8,515 college-bound high school students released today by Royall & Company, a division of EAB.

More than half of minority, first-generation, and low-income students reported finding personal letters helpful – up to a 14 percentage point increase over Caucasian, non-first-generation, and high-income students.  First-generation, African American, Hispanic/Latino, and low-income students were also between 13 and 18 percentage points more likely to report openness to receiving text messages from schools than their counterparts. 

"Colleges and universities value diversity as essential to supporting student success in a global economy, as well as meeting their missions of increasing access and opportunity," said Chris Marett, President at Royall & Company.  "So progressive schools like the University of Minnesota Twin Cities are harnessing a greater understanding of the communications preferences of different student segments to successfully recruit and enroll a more diverse class."

"The University of Minnesota Twin Cities embraces innovative, data-enabled student search efforts that draw on insights into students' individual communications preferences," said Rachelle Hernandez, Associate Vice Provost for Enrollment Management at University of Minnesota Twin Cities.  "Diversity is a core value of the University of Minnesota and our work to recruit, enroll, and serve under-represented and under-resourced students is directly tied to a focus on communicating with students when they are ready and in the manner in which they wish to connect with our campus."

Other important survey findings include:

  • African American students were nine percentage points more likely than Caucasian students to say they began looking at college options before their freshman year in high school. First-generation and Hispanic/Latino students were three percentage points more likely than non-first-generation or Caucasian students to say they began their search early.
  • First-generation students were eight percentage points less likely to report they had visited a college campus before their junior or senior year of high school than non-first generation students. Hispanic/Latino students were five percentage points less likely – and African American students were four percentage points less likely – to report a campus visit in their freshman or sophomore year of high school than Caucasian students.

"Campus visits are widely recognized as one of the most effective recruitment and yield tools available," said Pam Kiecker Royall, Ph.D., Head of Research at Royall & Company. "First-generation students and some students of color may wait longer to make their campus visits so personal invitations from a school official or an enrolled student they know are especially important for these students."

For the full report and an infographic on students' communications preferences, visit the Royall & Company blog.

Royall & Company surveyed the 8,515 college-bound junior and senior high school students in the United States in the summer of 2015.  The study used an online survey to investigate a variety of topics relevant to students' college search, including timing of their college search, sources used to gather information about college, preferred communication channels, and campus visits.  The majority of respondents reported high grade averages (B+ or above). 

These findings are part of Royall & Company's ongoing program of surveys and analyses of student behavior and preferences.  Since 2000, Royall & Company has surveyed more than 800,000 students and studied more than a billion student interactions.

About Royall & Company
Royall & Company is a division of EAB focused on data-driven services for higher education enrollment management, financial aid optimization, and alumni fundraising.  Royall & Company leverages proprietary data and insights to help schools optimize enrollment, net tuition, and annual giving revenue so those schools can continue to meet their missions of supporting lifelong student success.  In 2015, Royall & Company helped its member institutions admit more than 11,000 ACT-identified under-served students.  For more information, visit

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SOURCE The Advisory Board Company