CLAREMONT MCKENNA COLLEGE
Claremont McKenna College (CMC), a top liberal arts school in California with a strong reputation for economics, business and public policy, was looking for ways to strengthen its position in the face of increasing competition. When College leadership contacted A&S, they already had some ideas about initiatives they might undertake to improve their ability to attract and enroll talented students, but they wanted to understand which of these could form the basis of a new strategy to help them reach their enrollment goals.
Art & Science Group began the engagement with an intensive campus-wide meeting with students, faculty and staff, in which these ideas and others — including possible enhancement of entrepreneurship opportunities, refocusing the science program and expanding the international dimension of the student experience — were explored and refined. A&S then worked with the CMC team to develop a clear set of concepts that were consistent with the mission and goals of the College and that could be tested with prospective students to determine which offered the greatest opportunities and could form part of an overall strategy for strengthening the College’s position.
Research with prospective students revealed that CMC needed to reinforce its commitment to providing an education that balanced the liberal arts experience with more professionally oriented programs (e.g., economics, business, policy). The findings also showed that investing in other initiatives consistent with this overall position would benefit the College: enhancing the College’s already strong reputation for producing leaders, expanding opportunities for international programs and making investments in its science programs.
"The A&S group found innovative ways to interview the kinds of students we were seeking, in just the right ways and just the right times, to get that feedback for us without harming the admission cycle in the process."
- Jefferson Huang, Vice President for Student Affairs, Admission and Financial Aid
To help facilitate campus-wide understanding of the research and project results, A&S helped lead a retreat with the College community, including the board, faculty, staff and students leaders. Over the course of two days, A&S presented findings and recommendations to the overall group and facilitated break-out sessions organized around particular initiatives to help school leadership proceed with implementing the new strategic direction. CMC adopted A&S’s recommendations and had immediate positive results: applications increased from 5,000 to 7,000; the admission rate declined from 15 percent to 11 percent; and applications from international students increased from 900 and 1300.