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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University February 20, 2006 | Vol. 35 No. 22
'Spot a Bag' Campaign Asks Homewood Community to Say 'Hi'

William Conley, dean of enrollment and academic services, and a group of Undergraduate Admissions tour guides show off the new bags to be given to visitors.

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Homewood will soon get a little touch of color: yellow and red, to be exact.

Starting this week, prospective students and their families who are touring the campus will be given yellow cloth tote bags with the words "Johns Hopkins" set against a red background; underneath in smaller letters will be the phrase "Undergraduate Studies in Liberal Arts and Engineering."

They're not just a cute giveaway.

The bags are intended to alert faculty, staff and current students to visitors — and encourage them to make them feel welcome at Homewood. The slogan for the bag campaign, which will be supported in coming weeks with posters and ads in university publications, is "Spot a bag... make a friend."

The new totes are part of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions' larger marketing effort aimed at attracting more applicants — in particular those with an interest in the humanities disciplines — and enhancing the sense of community on campus.

An admissions marketing positioning study, commissioned by the university in fall 2004 and completed in May 2005, found that many prospective students did not ultimately choose Johns Hopkins because they felt it was not a friendly enough campus or they didn't perceive a "liberal arts environment," described by some as a total experience that blends academics and social life.

In light of these findings, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions decided to hone its marketing effort in an attempt to increase the undergraduate applicant pool and highlight the social and community life on campus.

While applicant numbers were already on an upward climb, senior admissions officials felt they should be even higher, given the university's stature.

In 2002, 8,900 high school seniors applied to the schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering. "These relatively low numbers meant we could not be as selective as we would like to be," said William Conley, dean of enrollment and academic services.

In order to attract more humanities-oriented students, he said, the university would need to fight the perception of a campus that caters to pre-meds and budding scientists who simply want to study hard.

"Academics is a major factor in terms of why students come here, but it's not differentiating us enough from our peers," Conley said. "We learned from our positioning study that those who did not apply to Johns Hopkins, or chose not to come here, placed a high value on a sense of community and campus life. And this group clearly felt we were not as strong in these categories as other schools."

To date, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions has launched a retooled Web site that now features more peoplecentric images, such as students hanging out on "The Beach" in front of the Eisenhower Library and a student scaling the Recreation Center's climbing wall. Admissions also recently launched its Hopkins Interactive site, the centerpiece of which is a collection of blogs in which current students document both their academic and social lives, on and off campus.

"The Web site is all about people now, not buildings or pathways," Conley said. "We want to show a Johns Hopkins where people are interacting with one another and also show that there is a pulse to the campus."

"Welcome!" banners have been hung on Levering and inside Garland Hall, the first stop on campus tours, and "Ask me anything!" lapel buttons will be worn by Admissions staff. In addition, Admissions publications have been given a fresh look, utilizing brighter colors and full-page photo spreads.

In full, Conley said the university wants to make prospective students feel more welcome, whether they are reading a publication, surfing the Web site or touring the campus in person.

"Some of the feedback we gathered told us that by and large the campus visit was not a pleasant enough experience," he said. "At least not as much as it should be."

The new yellow Hopkins bags will be given to visitors at the start of the campus tour. The bags, as well as the new printed Admissions materials, Web site and marketing pieces, were developed by the Office of Design and Publications.

Conley said that tour guides will highlight the abundance of recent positive changes to campus, several of which have come as a result of the university's Commission on Undergraduate Education final report — the overarching theme of which was the need to strengthen community and foster a balance between academic and social life.

The early results of the university's push in these areas are promising. Just over 11,000 students applied to the Homewood schools last year, and Conley said that nearly 14,000 have applied for fall 2006 admission.

"This is a trend we want to nurture," he said.


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