Telephone Calls from Faculty on the Matriculation of High School Students

Two characteristics of the University of San Diego present challenges in identify those students who might be interested in pursuing a USD engineering degree. First, as a Catholic, predominantly undergraduate university, USD is known for its liberal arts programs. Most students looking for an engineering degree don’t think of USD, and most students attracted by USD’s reputation aren’t thinking of majoring in engineering. So the first challenge was identifying those students who might be interested in our offering and providing them with information about our programs. Most activities related to identifying prospects were executed by USD Undergraduate Admissions. Among the things they did to identify engineering candidates are: Karthi Vidhyalaya Matriculation School Kumbakonam • Send mailings to our top 100 feeder high schools and to high tech and magnet high schools. • Place advertisements featuring engineering in several national College Guides • Develop a contact list of high school seniors based on SAT and AP test results. • Mail a series of electronic and surface mail communications to students on the prospect list. • Organize an on-campus overnight event for students interested in engineering. The purpose of these activities was simple; we wanted to increase the number of applications from students who might wish to major in engineering at USD. But this led to the second difficulty in identifying engineering prospects: At USD, students apply to the university and not to specific majors. While some students might express an interest in engineering, others who would be good candidates may not have mentioned it. Because we wanted to send engineering email and other information to as many admitted students as possible, we again relied on the admissions counselors to identify those students whose applications explicitly, or implicitly demonstrated an interest in engineering. Admissions included Interest in Engineering as a part of the student database and these students were placed in an “enrollment priority” category for financial aid. These admitted students also received email from engineering alumni and were included in the candidate list to receive telephone calls from faculty.


One of the main purposes of controlling the assignment of students to faculty and recording information about the calls was to allow us to assess the impact of phone calls on student matriculation. If it could be shown that students who receive calls are more likely to attend USD, then faculty may be more enthusiastic about placing the calls and we may devote more of our time to these activities and less to other recruiting tasks. Deposits from students are still being received and processed by USD. Furthermore, because the students apply to USD in general and not to engineering in particular, we cannot know how many engineering students we will have in the fall until registration is completed. Consequently, no analysis has been performed. Still, we have several specific questions that we would like to answer including: • Were students who received phone calls more likely to sign up for engineering? • Did phone calls have the same impact on the matriculation rates of men and women? • Is the matriculation rate of women affected by whether they received a phone call from a female, or male faculty member? • Did first generation students respond to calls the same way that other students responded? • Was there a correlation between faculty perceptions of the calls and the enrollment outcomes? The answers to these questions, and others, will be presented at the conference.