In fact, TTU led the Tennessee Board of Regents universities this fall in new freshman enrollment, and its total number of inquiries from new freshmen has increased by 3.1 percent from last fall, with a 20 percent increase in prospective students with an ACT score of 28 or higher.
“Even more striking is the fact that inquiries from new freshmen in the middle Tennessee area rose by 9.9 percent,” said Tracy Black, TTU’s marketing director. “Forty-five percent of the university’s advertising budget was spent in Davidson and its surrounding counties.”
TTU’s Admissions Office tracks those inquiries by the number of brochures about the university distributed at college fairs and other events, calls from prospective students and a variety of other ways. However, online inquiries cannot be tracked.
“So the true increase in inquiries is probably much greater when you consider that many are going uncounted online,” Black said.
The primary goal of the university’s marketing efforts is to stimulate the interest level of prospective students, and the numbers available — including a nearly 10 percent increase in inquiries from the region most heavily targeted by the university’s advertising and marketing — indicate a clear impact on student interest and subsequent enrollment.
“First and foremost, we have to get the attention and engage the interest of our prospective students — that’s the heart of what our marketing efforts are all about,” she said. “Results like this mean we’re heading in the right direction.”
New freshman enrollment rates from the Nashville area and the 14-county Upper Cumberland region of middle Tennessee tell a similar tale.
The number of new freshmen from the Cheatham, Davidson, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson County area increased by 10 percent this fall, while the rate of new freshman enrollment from the Upper Cumberland increased by 18 percent.
The most significant rates of new freshman enrollment, however, are from the Chattanooga area — 21 percent — and the Knoxville area — 29 percent. Both locations were also important targets of the university’s marketing efforts.
As part of the university’s strategic plan, it has a mandate to enhance the rate and diversity of participation in higher education. TTU’s two largest classes of minority first-time freshmen were in Fall 2002 and Fall 2006 respectively.
“Both of these dates were preceded by spring radio and television advertising flights aimed specifically at minorities,” Black said.
In addition to continuing those targeted efforts, the university plans to continue refining its methods of assessment so that, over time, an even stronger correlation between marketing and enrollment should emerge.
“While many different areas of the university community have worked together to produce this fall’s record enrollment in new freshmen, we believe our renewed marketing efforts directly supported that feat.
“Although the true and complete impact of our marketing efforts may not become evident for several years, we believe these statistics are at least proof of the short-term impact of our increased visibility through marketing,” Black concluded.