A campuswide effort to boost enrollment for Western Carolina University’s upcoming summer school sessions hit a crescendo on the university’s Advising Day (Tuesday, Feb. 21), with current students having a chance to attend special informational gatherings hosted by the Advising Center, visit a OneStop student services center decked out for summer fun, and take away freebies such as T-shirts, pens and sunglasses emblazoned with the summer school logo.
Plus, students passing through WCU’s Central Plaza had an opportunity to take a seat in a gigantic purple chair adorned with the logo – all in the name of piquing their interest in taking classes during the summer.
This year’s marketing campaign for summer school is the brainchild of Lowell Davis, WCU’s assistant vice chancellor for student success, and a cast of faculty and staff members who are hoping the current effort will be even more successful than last year’s, which also was focused around getting students’ attention on Advising Day. The 2016 summer sessions were WCU’s highest-grossing ever, netting more than $3 million in revenue that is shared with the WCU colleges, Davis said. Total student credit hours taken during summer 2016 exceeded 2015 credit hours by 737.
WCU’s “Advising Day Summer Bash” of 2016 produced results on-campus, but it also got some off-campus attention, winning a national award in the category “Creative and Innovative Marketing – Single Marketing Idea: Large Institutions” from the North American Association of Summer Sessions and an award from the University & College Designers Association for a poster designed by Will Huddleston, graphic designer in WCU’s Office of University Marketing.
In addition to “Advising Day Splash” activities, this year’s marketing campaign includes a billboard, communication with area community college students who will graduate this spring, a “Summer Info Center” that will be placed on campus at various locations through March, targeted promotions to incoming freshmen in the Academic Success and Catamount Gap summer programs, digital and social media marketing, and print marketing in the form of sidewalk stickers and other materials.
Huddleston designed the logo and materials being used this year, while students from the university’s Construction Management Program – Dalton Hummer, Justin Woody and Daniel Womack – built the oversized chair placed on the Central Plaza. The Adirondack-style chair stands about 10-feet tall at the back with a seat 3 feet off the ground and 42-inches wide. It was delivered by the students with an equally large side table, said Glenda Hensley, director of the Office of Student Transitions.
“We are hoping lots of students will want to have their photos and selfies taken and will hashtag them to help generate more buzz about summer,” Hensley said. The chair will be on the plaza at least until the beginning of spring break.
Faculty and staff members involved in the promotional effort, in addition to Hensley, are Linda Carmody, OneStop director; Brian Gorman, director of Mentoring and Persistence to Success; George Ford, interim director of the Kimmel School of Construction Management; and Travis Bullock, director of the Advising Center. Theresa Cruz Paul, director of WCU’s Center for Career and Professional Development, has been instrumental in assisting students who enroll in summer school obtain internships or summer jobs, Davis said.
The marketing effort for summer school also includes the website summer.wcu.edu.