UNC Chapel Hill


Chapel Hill, NC

Client Challenge

The demographics of North Carolina were changing rapidly in the mid-2000s. By 2017, the University of North Carolina General Administration predicted that 30,000 additional students would graduate from North Carolina high schools. As the flagship campus of the UNC system, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recognized its responsibility to grow its enrollment. To prepare for and manage this enrollment growth, UNC-Chapel Hill sought to understand the potential impact and how it could continue to attract top students and provide them with a superior undergraduate experience.


Our Approach

Having worked for the University on several other occasions, our firm was retained in this situation to conduct a study focused on the potential effects enrollment growth would have on students’ application and matriculation decisions. This research with both North Carolinians and out-of-state inquirers and admitted applicants revealed that growing the enrollment without maintaining the current quality of the UNC-Chapel Hill student body would have serious negative consequences for the enrollment of top students. It was clear that University growth targets had to be tied to the achievement of various student-quality measures. In addition, growth with quality would require additional investments both in aid and programming to ensure that top students can continue to expect an experience comparable to that offered by highly regarded, smaller competitors.


The Results

Growth projections for UNC-Chapel Hill were adjusted based on our work, which also became an integral part of a larger University-wide discussion and program planning effort described in a trustee-led report released in March 2009 entitled: “Carolina: Best Place to Teach, Learn and Discover."