The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship


Document Type

Research Study

Publication Date

Spring 2018


St. Cloud State University (SCSU) is the largest state university in Minnesota in terms of student enrollment. The main vision of St. Cloud State is “Through active discovery, applied knowledge and creative interaction, we positively transform our students and the communities where they live and work.” In order to protect such a vision, St. Cloud State must continue to attract prospective new-entering first-year students to the institution. However, in the recent decade, enrollment numbers for St. Cloud State University have fallen marginally. As reported in the Star Tribune in March 2016, “[St. Cloud State] is dealing with falling enrollment and nagging deficits. SCSU enrollment stands at 15,461, down from 18,650 in the fall of 2010 … It is currently battling a $6 million budget gap.” Admissions events play a tremendous role in attracting new incoming students and, in turn, reducing the budget gap.

This study’s main focus is to analyze recent available admissions event data to determine which set of events are most effective in acquiring prospective incoming students. This research will further develop the SCSU Admissions Office’s understanding of prospective student behaviors in efforts to more effectively budget available resources in attracting and targeting prospective students. In addition, through a full breakdown and analysis of SCSU admissions event and application records from 2016 to 2018, this report provides insight to predict the likelihood a prospective student will apply to and enroll in St. Cloud State University. This understanding will effectively add insight to university campaign advertising and marketing strategies to acquire higher levels of student applications and enrollments in the future.

The most important insights resulting from this analysis are:

  • Although the number of prospects increased by almost 34,000 from the fall 2016 cycle to the fall 2017 cycle, the number of admissions event-attending prospects decreased by almost 1,400. There were also fewer prospects who applied (1,032 less), were admitted (504 less), and eventually enrolled (297 less).
  • Attending an admissions event drastically increases the probability a student will apply (26 percentage points higher), get admitted (21 percentage points higher), and enroll (nine percentage points higher).
  • 70 percent of those who attend a Preview Day apply. Other events with higher conversion rates are Discover Red & Black (59 percent) and Daily Campus Visit (58 percent).
  • It is difficult to predict the probability a prospect will apply and enroll based on simply the number of and types of admissions events attended. More information must be known in order to develop a more accurate prediction model.

These insights will help guide and better influence important decisions regarding the continual improvement in enrollment levels at St. Cloud State University.