For prospective undergrads, Drew fine-tunes the definition of what it has done well all along.
By Mary Jo Patterson
Hanna Jrad ’12 loves Drew. Within days of arriving she became assistant news editor of The Acorn, a remarkable opportunity for a first-year student. Her small classes allowed her to become close to professors (while writing her senior honors thesis, she consulted weekly with Professor Sarah Wald). Jrad lived in a theme house, where residents debated world affairs into the wee hours and she developed deep friendships.
“Drew is a place where you get more attention, in every way, than you would any other place,” says Jrad, who majored in English and French. “It’s a school that creates very human experiences socially, academically and in terms of the programs I did.”
Yet she nearly missed out on the experience. Drew wasn’t her first-choice school. Materials provided by her high school guidance counselor hadn’t captured the essence of Drew or described what made it special. When Jrad paid a visit to Madison, she found the campus beautiful. She also considered it a nice touch when Drew attached a handwritten note to her acceptance letter, saying they hoped she’d join the literary journal. Still, she was disappointed when her top school did not come through.
“This is a story we’ve been hearing too often from applicants,” says David Muha, Drew’s chief communications officer. “Clearly, we have to do a better job of conveying what makes Drew such a special place.”
During the past year Muha and his staff worked to produce a set of new materials conveying Drew’s distinctive identity. Prospective undergraduates and their families can now learn about Drew’s strengths through a dozen new publications, a redesigned website and a new catchphrase—“Full-Impact Learning”—that distills the Drew experience.
The new website (drew.edu) and publications debuted in August. The idea for Full-Impact Learning emerged during the university’s continuing strategic planning process. It describes learning as a joyful path to discovering oneself, acquiring knowledge and improving society, as well as setting a foundation for one’s lifework.
Many colleges emphasize jobs over learning, says Muha, who is also a member of the university’s strategic planning working group. “We’re making a case for the value of a liberal arts education,” Muha says. “Success after graduation is very important, but so is finding out what you love and what you want to do. You’ll get an education here that allows you to take the learning out of the classroom and take it into the world with you.”
Drew began the strategic planning process in 2010, spurred by the continued effects of the recession and the increasingly competitive nature of higher education. Families were also questioning whether private colleges were worth the expense. The university, believing it needed to sharpen its profile, set out to further define its mission and its vision. “We know Drew is an excellent institution,” Muha says, “and now we can do a better job telling our story in a way that is more authentic and compelling.”
Making an Impact
Full-Impact Learning recruitment materials use the latest web tools, plus powerful imagery and engaging writing, to make clear why Drew is a smart choice, from its small class sizes to its high alumni employment rate. Here’s a sample:
A vertical webpage advocates the value of a liberal arts education to an individual and to society.
Another tall page makes it easy to browse Drew’s 55 fields of study and 7 skills for success.
The campus is featured prominently, as are off-campus experiences around the globe.