Student Recruitment Publications Packages: Simon’s Rock College of Bard - Grand Gold Medal

Category 30: Student Recruitment Publications Packages
Simon’s Rock College of Bard, The World is Waiting

Objective: Our primary objective is to recruit high school students to apply to Simon’s Rock College of Bard during their tenth or eleventh grade year. At the same time, we aim to distinguish Simon’s Rock as the undisputed leader and innovator in early college education.

Before we began this campaign, it had become almost routine when talking about Simon’s Rock admission efforts to preface every statement with: “What other colleges typically do is…” This statement was quickly followed with a reason—or several reasons—why and how Simon’s Rock differs from all other institutions, and how no other college admission model could be compared directly to our own. In addressing the College’s student recruitment and institutional promotional efforts there was no simple prescription for success. We were naturally informed by how other colleges and universities recruit their students, but we had a much more challenging task before us. In promoting Simon’s Rock, we needed to go a step farther and make the case for a singular educational path: early college.

Our task was further complicated by having fewer direct routes to reaching prospective students than the traditional sources shared by most colleges and universities. Virtually every college and university enjoys longstanding relationships with feeder schools. While Simon’s Rock has established a small number of such relationships, our students’ paths to us can be idiosyncratic and unpredictable. Moreover, until recently, there was a belief on campus that many secondary schools did not welcome—and perhaps were even hostile to—Simon’s Rock. Although we have since learned that this is less the case than we initially assumed, accepting students to enter college after the tenth or eleventh grade sometimes means “robbing” high schools of their most promising and accomplished students.

Another inaccuracy we aim to correct is that most of the College’s prospective students consider leaving their high school early because they are unhappy. While it is true that some current Simon’s Rock students express dissatisfaction with their old schools, this is not the case for most students making inquiries of the College. Nearly 80-percent of students who respond to our mailings never considered leaving their current schools before learning about Simon’s Rock, and when asked to assess the strengths of their high school, most express satisfaction with their current education.

For Simon’s Rock to achieve greater admission success, our messages and strategies have to make a strong appeal to students who are likely to have a significant interest in early college but who have not yet considered the possibility. We understand that making this case to prospective students requires a longer period of cultivation—perhaps starting as early as eighth grade—and a set of communications tools that distinctively and persuasively establish the merits of early college generally and Simon’s Rock specifically. Through positive, affirming language and images we aim to open the eyes of prospective students and their families to the idea of early college and to the uniquely challenging opportunities available to them at Simon’s Rock.

Quantities and Production Costs:

Publication Quantity Price Per Piece Total Budget
Search Piece: 456,000 $0.12 $53,625
Travel Piece: 7,500 $3.08 $23,100
Student Profiles (set of four): 15,000 $2.41 $36,150


15,000 $2.98 $44,682
Total $157,557

Results: Our application deadline for the fall semester is May 31, and we are early in our admission and application cycle. However, as of March 1, we have seen an 80-percent increase in applications completed versus the number completed by the same date in the previous recruiting year. We believe that we will sustain a significant increase in applications through the completion of this and future admission cycles.