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An authentic approach to driving admissions yield at University of San Diego

The University of San Diego brought on PeopleGrove to support virtual campus visits and student ambassadorship—driving increased admissions to their university.

88%

Student to Ambassador Response Rate

65%

Out-of-State Students

65%

Ambassador Opt-In Acceptance Rate

3.23X

Increase in Deposits

INSTITUTION TYPE

Private Research University

LOCATION

San Diego, CA

TOTAL ENROLLMENT

9,000+

ALUMNI

77,100+

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Even before COVID-19 created this upheaval, our partners at the University of San Diego
recognized the need to provide virtual support to their incoming class of 2024. Their aim
was to extend their reach and bring the feeling of a Visit Day to students. In partnership
with PeopleGrove, USD Admissions was able to create a unique experience for their
admitted students and continue to drive yield in spite of COVID-19 challenges.

“It’s all the little things that only a student could say. And even if I said them as an admissions representative, it would mean half as much because it’s not coming from the mouth of a student.”
Austin McKinley
Admissions Communicate Supervisor
University of San Diego

The situation

Student ambassadors to evangelize and promote USD campus experience

The University of San Diego (USD) as a whole had undergone a brand enhancement highlighting their identity as a private, Catholic institution in southern California focused on social justice and “change making.” To help prospective students understand those brand pillars, Austin McKinley, Admissions Communications Supervisor, created an informal ambassador program called Regional Connections. He understood how peer-to-peer interaction would build trust and rapport since prospects see a student or an alumni as a more authentic source of information, having lived the USD experience.

“It’s all the little things that only a student could say. And even if I said them as an admissions representative, it would mean half as much because it’s not coming from the mouth of a student.”

However, Austin was acting as middleman, connecting students and ambassadors via email. This was manual, inefficient, distracting, and difficult to measure. The ability to match student ambassadors and prospects based on their academic or social interests was
inconsistent at best. Austin knew he was on to something, he just needed a way to scale and mature student connections.

The solution

PeopleGrove’s Enrollment Success Hub

In two weeks, USD launched the Torero Ambassador Network, powered by PeopleGrove. Within the first week, over 70 student ambassadors volunteered to help bring the spirit of the campus visit to 5,000+ prospective students.

Enabling prospective students to instantly communicate with ambassadors—recommended for them—based on their academic and career interests, along with hometowns and extracurricular activities, accelerates access to trusted information. This allows prospects to create meaningful connections and get their questions answered from a source that feels authentic, moving them closer to enrolling.

Now more than ever, our students need enrollment assistance. Without PeopleGrove’s Enrollment Success platform, we would not be able to provide assistance to students at the necessary scale and level of personalization.
Austin McKinley

This solution extended the work of USD’s Career Development Center. In partnership with PeopleGrove, USD united their Torero Employers and Alumni Mentors (T.E.A.M.) network. The ability to have the Ambassador Program sit within the T.E.A.M. network ensures a seamless introduction of enrolled students to the larger USD community.

Outcomes

88%

Student to Ambassador Response Rate

65%

Out-of-State Participation

3.23X

Increase in Deposits

Aside from exciting engagement numbers, Austin is excited by the quality of the connections being made. “It’s great to see our ambassadors helping these future Toreros understand life at USD. They are answering questions about everything from student government to majors
to clubs and organizations.”

Given the campus closure in the spring of 2020, PeopleGrove has helped USD bring the visit day to their prospects and continue to drive towards their goals.

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