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Office of Enrollment Management Annual Report 2016 - 2017

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Kristine Wong Davis portrait

With about eight months on the job, Kris Wong Davis, vice provost for enrollment management, shares some of her insights, including first impressions, goals and what led her to Purdue.

Kristina Wong Davis Vice Provost

What attracted you to Purdue?

  Reputation! And not just as a great institution. Purdue has a fabulous reputation among the national enrollment management community for being a high functioning, successful and excellent team. I cannot use enough superlatives for the reputation I always knew Purdue to have and the individuals whom I already knew and respected here. The opportunities to join a team like this at a university of this caliber are few and far between. Quite frankly, I wasn't planning on a move but could not pass up an opportunity like this.

What led you to a career in enrollment management?

  I blame it all on my mentor. He had been my academic advisor when I was an undergraduate student and he eventually became the assistant vice president for enrollment. I was working in early academic outreach at the time, and he had an open position and encouraged me to consider coming back to admissions.

Do you have any stories about your early awareness of Purdue?

  When I worked at the University of Arizona in admissions in the early 2000's we had hired a consultant to help us structure Enrollment Management. Our lead consultant was none other than Doug Christiansen, who was Purdue's VP for Enrollment Management at the time. We visited Purdue to see how this institution did business and built our model after that which Doug had implemented here. When faced with an issue, we would always say, "What would Purdue Do?" Purdue really shaped my experience as a mid-level manager in admissions and as I saw us build a strategic enterprise.

Having had several months to settle in, what are your initial observations about Purdue?

  One of my first impressions as I was interviewing was that people at Purdue were very collegial. That has continued to be true. One of the greatest strengths I've found is that staff here are honestly good collaborators. There is a sense of needing to work collectively in order to succeed. While there is always work to be done to improve, all in all, I find that people generally understand the need to work with one another and are quick to reach out to colleagues from other areas and make those connections. I've been at other universities where there were walls and barriers and people refused to work together. That is not at all the case here at Purdue. This adds to a collective loyalty for the institution that I see reflected in everyone's work. It's very refreshing and motivating to work with both a great enrollment management unit and campus partners who recognize the value of teamwork.

Also, the willingness and ability to share information/data and be open and transparent is something that almost all institutions aspire to, yet many fall short. Purdue is much farther along in achieving this than so many others.

What goals have you set for yourself and Enrollment Management?

  My most immediate goal is to build some data-informed models that allow us to use "what if" scenarios to project both campus enrollments and course needs as we make changes to the size of the incoming freshmen class. I think so many units on campus (including all EM units) could use this kind of analysis and tool.

Longer term, I hope to first ensure the strength and vitality of all of our units. The campus has grown and EM has continued with tremendous successes with very minimal infusions in the organization, either for financial aid or support of recruitment or commencement. All of the EM units feel the need, in different ways, for attention based on campus growth up to this point and expected future growth.

I also believe we will need to be looking at systems. We've been on Banner for a while but new products are coming on the market we may need to look at. Of course, even in doing so we may stick with Banner, but the process of looking at our systems also includes some business process evaluation. That's always a healthy thing for an organization to do every so often anyway. Additionally, we will need to constantly be thinking about our business and how we meet students where they are at in an ever-changing technological environment.

The best thing about EM and Purdue is nothing is broken. We can look ahead and see how we can make things better, create efficiencies, serve our students without getting sidetracked by dealing with crisis.

What are Purdue's strengths compared to peers?

  Purdue's strength really lies in its innovation. Across the institution, Purdue doesn't generally wait for competitors to pave the way for them. Rather, Purdue, while being well informed, will often step into spaces where other institutions fear to go. Pam Horne led the effort to create dashboards for recruitment and admissions and make the data transparent to campus. That may seem simple, but honestly, few other institutions share data as transparently as is done here at Purdue. That's just a small example. Income Share Agreements, freezing tuition, even the Kaplan acquisition are examples of the significant ways in which Purdue is leading in higher education.

Other institutions are now sending delegations to Purdue to learn more about how we've instituted some of these innovations. It's great to be at an institution where we walk the walk in terms of being a true "leader" as a university.

What are Purdue's challenges compared to peers?

  Purdue's challenges are not necessarily unique. It's a very competitive environment to recruit and enroll students. Limited space in the most competitive majors, limited merit scholarships and an overwhelmingly strong applicant pool for both competitive majors and merit scholarships are very real challenges to achieving all enrollment goals. Purdue has remained very successful, but with declining high school populations and more aggressive recruitment and scholarship budgets among our peers, we will have to be attentive to how we can respond. Another tricky tight rope for Purdue is maintaining the quality of our incoming class across campus when there is low demand for some majors.

Have you discovered any pleasant surprises about Purdue?

  Having been at a few other institutions, I have had opportunities to work on new ideas and initiatives, whatever those were for that institution. In almost all cases, the bureaucracy around how business was done, and the need to socialize ideas, meant that time to execution of an idea could be up to five years' time. I've seen ideas become outdated or lose momentum simply because the process to innovate and implement was far too difficult. As a result, many great ideas and initiatives were lost. Here at Purdue, we still discuss, share ideas and work through how items should and could be implemented, but overall, there is a "make it happen" culture. It's really refreshing to see that things can be put into place and actions taken in a more timely fashion. In many ways I think that motivates staff to be creative and innovative in their work, because they know they actually can have an impact.

Record-Setting Year for Purdue Enrollment

In August 2017 Purdue University West Lafayette enrolled its largest freshman class since 2006 as well as one of the most academically prepared. With a record number of nearly 49,000 freshman applications, undergraduate enrollment increased to 31,006, including a first-year class of 7,567.

Following are data and graphics that tell an encouraging story – that Purdue is recognized around the world and a Purdue education is in demand. Here are some highlights:

  • The incoming class of 7,567 is the largest since 2006 and includes 4,095 Indiana residents and 809 underrepresented students, a 16 percent increase over 2016.
  • Even though the freshman class was big, it was still the most academically prepared, with increases in both the average GPA and ACT. (The College Board introduced a new assessment in 2016, so the SAT average of 1256 on a 1600 scale, cannot be compared to previous years.)
  • Well-prepared incoming students continue to contribute to climbing graduation rates – the six-year rate is 78.7 percent and the four-year rate is 58.5 percent.
  • Purdue enrolled undergraduate students from all 50 states and the diversity of the international student population has increased, with 34 percent from China, 23 percent from India and 43 percent from 70 other countries around the world.
See the data

2017 Enrollment Funnel

Prospective: 235,077 Inquiry: 141,755 Applicant: 48,916 Admitted: 28,093 Selectivity Rate: 57.4% Yield Rate: 26.9% Enrolled
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At the top of the enrollment funnel is the number high school seniors in the Office of Admissions data system at any point during their final high school year – these could include students who inquired about Purdue or those whose data was purchased by Admissions through its annual student search efforts. At the second level, only those who inquired are included; an inquiry can be anything from attending a campus visit to submitting an online interest form. The percentage of applicants who are admitted is the selectivity rate and the percentage of admitted students who enroll is the yield rate.

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Interest in a Purdue education is reflected in the continuous increase in application volume. This year's decrease in applications from international students mirrors what institutions across the U.S. are experiencing.

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Among first-year students, enrollment of domestic minorities increased by 16% overall in 2017. Although the percentage of black or African American students decreased by 1.7%, the percentage of Hispanic/Latino students increased by 22% and the percentage of those who reported two or more races increased by nearly 37%.

Freshman Beginner Men & Women

Male and Female silhouettes
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With a larger freshman class, the number of female students increased to 3,366 over 3,126 the previous year, but the percentage increased as well - from 43.2% to 44.5%.

Freshman Academic Preparation

Average H.S. GPA


Average ACT Score


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The average ACT Composite score and high school GPA for the freshman class continue to climb in 2017. More than 56% of domestic first-year students earned an "A" average or better in high school, including 60% of nonresidents and 54% of Indiana residents.

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Purdue's top enrolling states for nonresident students remained the same in 2017, with Illinois, California, Ohio, Michigan and New Jersey as the top five. And while there were increases in the number of students from all of Purdue's top enrolling states, enrollment from several states increased by 24% or more, including Florida, Virginia, Missouri, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Texas.

Undergraduate Enrollment Worldwide

Indiana Resident
the state of indiana
the globe
Domestic Nonresident
the United States

Overall Enrollment - 31,006

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With 2017 overall undergraduate enrollment, Purdue met its goals to hold the percentage of Indiana residents stable at 53% while increasing the percentage of domestic nonresidents (up from 30% to 31%) and decreasing the percentage of international students (down from 17% to 16%). The fact that the University is able to attract more nonresident students without additional scholarship money is a testament to the value of a Purdue degree.

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As a percentage of overall undergraduate enrollment, college-by-college enrollment has remained relatively consistent. In 2017, the total number of undergraduate students increased in Engineering, Health and Human Sciences, Science, Polytechnic, Agriculture, Exploratory Studies, Education and Veterinary Technology.

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Larger incoming class sizes, a more rigorous academic probation policy and a new conditional admission program (Summer Start) are all factors that could significantly impact a university's retention rate. But with Purdue's focus on admitting well prepared students as well as a campus-wide culture and programming to support student success, decreases in one- and two-year retention rates were modest.

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Purdue has reached all-time highs for 4-, 5- and 6-year graduation rates. The five-year rate surpassed 75% for the first time and the four-year rate is inching closer to 60%. While work remains to be done, these upward trends indicate the University's efforts to decrease time to graduation are succeeding.

What it Takes to Recruit a Class

It takes a campus to recruit Purdue's incoming class and never has that been so true than with the 2017 class. Programs and activities evolve from year to year, but there are three constants: recruitment efforts are plentiful, diverse and hundreds of Purdue faculty, staff and students are involved.

As Vice Provost Kris Wong Davis noted in the Annual Report's opening Q&A, Purdue people excel at collaboration, and campus-wide participation in undergraduate recruitment is a great example. From on- and off-campus events to communication and data sharing, the Purdue recruitment community recognizes that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

On-Campus Programs

It's no secret that on-campus visits often seal the deal for college-seeking students and their families. They're a critical, often final, factor in the decision-making process. And Purdue invests a great deal of human and financial resources in making campus visits accessible and memorable.

Campus visits come in various shapes and sizes

Large, Full-Day Events

Full-day events are hosted by the Office of Admissions but include activities that incorporate all Purdue colleges and many student service units.

31 Events 16,982 Attendees

Admissions Daily Visits

Daily visits consist of up to four sessions each weekday (and one on Saturdays during the school year) that include a presentation and student-guided walking tour.

253 Sessions 31,660 Attendees

Group Visits

Essentially, group visits are field trips for groups of students from individual schools or community-based organizations. These typically include an admissions presentation and student-guided walking tour, and groups often arrange for additional activities with other campus units.

47 Groups 1,535 Attendees

College-Based Visits

College-based visits are information sessions or customized visits prospective students can schedule directly with Purdue's colleges and departments independently of an Admissions visit. These are often combined with the Admissions daily visit and allow students to explore their academic interests more thoroughly.

13 Colleges or Academic Departments Custom Visit Opportunities  

Virtual Tour

The virtual tour is an online, guided tour that allows students to visit campus from wherever they are. (Average tour length: 11 minutes)

134 Different Countries 33,205 Visitors
Visiting the Purdue campus was an eye-opening experience to say the least. The campus was beautiful and the dorms were exceptional. I could tell everyone on the tour was professional and well-spoken and as a result we had no questions left unanswered. Future college freshman, Out-of-state
Our tour guide shared his personal story on why he chose Purdue. His advice was some of the best advice I have ever heard. Future college freshman, Indiana
I had a wonderful experience visiting Purdue! Everyone was so friendly and the campus is so beautiful. I felt like the students leading the tours genuinely loved the campus and that their passion was legitimate. College transfer student, Indiana resident

Off-Campus Programs

In recruiting and enrolling the 2017 freshman class, Purdue representatives traveled the globe.



U.S. States and Territories





Recruiting off campus is an all-hands-on-deck effort, involving West Lafayette staff from the Office of Admissions, International Students and Scholars and colleges/schools, as well as Admissions' 10 regional representatives and hundreds of alumni volunteers. And the volume of activity is impressive.



High Schools Visits


College Fairs




High School Counselor Receptions

After talking to an alumni and hearing about the weight his degree in Purdue had in the real world, It fully dawned on me how valuable an education at Purdue was. I was also surprised to see the sheer quantity and variety of clubs on campus and see a vibrant less-academic side of the university that hadn't been impressed upon me before. Future freshman, Seattle, WA
The program just reinforced Purdue as my 1st choice college. Also the people running the presentation made jokes and talked like real human beings, and talked to the audience not down at them. Future freshman, Mason, OH
We've always recommended Purdue so it's a school that I've been familiar with. From this program, however, I learned more and will likely recommend it to a broader range of students. School counselor, Washington, D.C.


College-seeking students use a variety of communication tools during their search, and although they use less-traditional information sources, such as social media and text, most prefer traditional sources. In fact, most students cite email and paper mail as their preferred information sources from colleges.

Preferred Information Sources 1

  1. Email
  2. Paper mail
  3. Website
  4. College visit
  5. Social media
  6. Text

In addition, students are starting their college search earlier than ever before. Nearly 40 percent of students begin their college search before their junior year in high school and 11 percent begin before eighth grade.

And top three kinds of information they want?

  1. Majors and minors
  2. College costs
  3. General university information

1 EAB/Royall & Company, Student Communications in the Evolving Digital Era

The Office of Admissions begins communicating with students as early as middle school, with both paper and email. Messaging for younger students encourages college preparation, both academic and financial.

Office of Admissions


Publications Mailed


Email Campaigns


Emails Sent

By the time they are high school juniors and seniors, Purdue-interested students receive a great deal of information from Purdue colleges and schools, based on their identified academic interests.

Colleges and Schools


Undergraduate Recruitment Email Campaigns


Emails Sent

Focus on Finances Pays Off for Students

Tuition at Purdue hasn't increased since the 2012 academic year and the overall cost of attendance has actually dropped since then. Among the positive outcomes of this focus on student costs - more students are graduating debt free and overall student borrowing has dropped significantly.

In 2017, the number of students who graduated debt free continued to climb, reaching 59.0 percent. More Purdue students are graduating debt free than at any time in the past 10 years; in comparison, the national average is 39 percent.

Undergraduates Graduating Debt Free
49.5% 47.9% 52.2% 54.4% 59.0%
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Per-student debt is also down for Purdue undergraduates. The 2017 level of $3,950 represents a 22 percent decrease since 2012-13. And even though total undergraduate loan volume increased 1 percent in 2017, loan volume has also dropped 22 percent since 2012-13.

“Fewer students are borrowing,” says Ted Malone, Division of Financial Aid executive director. “The combination of frozen tuition and strategic use of financial aid makes a Purdue education accessible to students of all financial backgrounds.”

Total Undergraduate Loan Volume
$164,439,736 $144,189,994 $131,036,036 $127,523,182 $128,421,514
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students gathering around fountain on campus students gathering around fountain on campus

Self-Help Checklist Making a Difference

A simple task list in myPurdue is making a big difference for Purdue students. Three easy checklist items, but a world of difference:

  • 1. Confirm Your Enrollment
  • 2. Affirmance of Financial Responsibility
  • 3. Set up Your E-Refund Direct Deposit Account

By adding these tasks in a Student Account Checklist within myPurdue, the Office of the Bursar reduced student registration cancellations by 25 percent in Fall 2017 from the previous year.

“This is the first year ever that we’ve had to cancel fewer than 200 students because they did not confirm their registration,” says University Bursar Tim Riley. “Typically, about 40-45 percent of canceled students re-register, which means we saved up to 30 students from having to do that this year,” he says.

The financial responsibility task helps students and the university by contributing to fewer delinquencies and improving the institution’s cash flow. “Having less potential bad debt is one of the factors that enables Purdue to keep tuition flat. It also supports retention efforts by helping students to stay on track with their academic goals,” Riley says.

In addition, 95 percent of students received their refunds electronically in 2017, up from 88 percent the previous year, which is faster and safer than mailing checks.

Riley says the success of the cancel processes and the Bursar checklist has prompted other universities to copy the practice on their own campuses. “We’ve taken some of the manual labor out of these processes, making them more efficient for students and the university. We’ve been happy to share our best practices with other universities across the country.”

student account checklist showing incomplete section: Set Up Your E-Refund Direct Deposit Account
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student studying

Validated Plans of Study Keep Students on Track

student studying

Beginning with the 2017-18 academic year, Purdue students have access to validated, dynamic plans of study within their myPurdue portal. The plans are tied directly to the University Catalog, which ensures accuracy and helps students stay on track for on-time graduation.

This is significant. Prior to this academic year, some colleges were giving the Office of the Registrar paper copies of their plans of study, which sometimes were out of date. Paper plans were not tied directly to the official catalog and occasionally included courses that no longer existed.

“Inaccurate plans caused multiple problems,” says University Registrar Jerry Ross. “First and foremost, students did not always have access to the most current requirements of their degree plan. In addition, the process to identify and fix inaccuracies was labor intensive.

“The validated plans mirror the catalog and offer students the most accurate information possible. With this greater transparency, students see exactly what they still need to take to stay on track.”

Beginning with December 2017 commencement, the validated plans are being used to clear candidates for graduation.

Entrepreneurship students
Entrepreneurship students Entrepreneurship students

Back A Boiler

In 2017, Purdue University’s innovative Income Share Agreement (ISA) program, Back a Boiler, continued to garner national recognition while more Purdue students took advantage of the program to help finance their college education.

Rather than a loan or grant program, Back a Boiler is a program in which students receive funding in return for a percentage of their post-education salary over a set number of years.

Back a Boiler began in 2016 with 161 students and an investment of $2.1 million and has grown in the 2017-18 academic year to include 279 students and a $3.6 million investment. Students from all Purdue colleges and more than 100 different majors have participated.

The first university-backed ISA since a short-lived attempt in the 1970s, Back a Boiler is receiving national recognition as a program that demonstrates a school’s confidence in its graduates’ outcomes. Publications from The Atlantic to Forbes and Inside Higher Ed report that such a program represents an institutional mindset that the university’s students are going to succeed.