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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

November 4, 2005

ISU's student recruitment effort to adopt new theme

by Samantha Beres

What do high school kids look for when shopping around for colleges? High academic standards? Good professors? A place that offers a lot of choices?

These might be the obvious traits of a good school, but there's much more to it that has to do with emotion, according to Louie Laurent with the Des Moines marketing firm, ZLRIgnition. He collaborated with Carole Custer, director of university marketing, to determine prospective students' perceptions about college in general and Iowa State.

"Obviously, students want great professors. Obviously, they want high academic standards. But the four-year experience is a life-changing event," Laurent said. "When you talk about it to them, it's the whole experience."

Laurent talked to students who said they were looking for a welcoming, supportive environment in a college, and for social and academic diversity that would offer a lot of choices. Students also looked forward to being independent, making friends and learning new things.

Alumni, faculty and staff were asked what they thought made Iowa State unique and advantageous for students. Most echoed what students said: Iowa State is a big university with a lot of options, but the campus has a warm, friendly environment and feels small and personal.

From the responses, the university will begin tailoring its message to prospective students using the concept that the college experience is an adventure.

"The word 'adventure' is rich in imagery in the students' minds and incorporates the challenge, excitement and fun of learning and discovery," Laurent said.

"Enjoy the Adventure" will be the theme Iowa State will use to attract new students. The phrase, Laurent added, speaks to students' ideas of what they need, rather than tells them what Iowa State has to offer.

The impetus to develop a new message to attract students grew out of President Gregory Geoffroy's goal to increase student enrollment.

"With the adoption of the university's new strategic plan and this renewed commitment to enrollment, we felt it was important to again evaluate why our students come to Iowa State," Custer said.

"We are a large university, but we have the programs and activities that make us small and personal. It's the combination of the two that makes us unique," she said.

Custer said the new theme is "a creative concept that not only gets at the essence of what the university's values are, but also the students' values."

Director of enrollment services Marc Harding said the concept speaks to students in many ways.

"'Adventure' can be applied intellectually, academically and socially to the journey students have in selecting a college, as well as during their college experience," he said.

"I believe it captures the entrepreneurial spirit that today's students have, as well as the high level of learning and opportunities inside and outside the classroom that students seek -- and Iowa State provides," Harding said. He added that the recruitment team looks forward to using the new approach with potential students.

Geoffroy has presented the new theme to the president's council and several faculty groups. He said the response has been very positive. He also presented the new message to high school students at Dubuque Senior and Southeast Polk high schools and said that it resonated well with the students.

For now, "Enjoy the Adventure" is in its preliminary stages. Laurent and Custer plan to hold workshops to help the Iowa State community learn how to integrate the adventure theme into the university's communications, admissions materials and various publications.


"Enjoy the Adventure" will be the theme Iowa State will use to attract new students.


"The word adventure is rich in imagery in the students' minds and incorporates the challenge, excitement and fun of learning and discovery."

Louie Laurent