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How Rochester is Growing Enrollment with Rize

November 15, 2023
Programs Approved
New Student Applications
Student Enrollments

College Background

Rochester University is a four-year private institution in Michigan that offers associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees. Rochester enrolled about 1,200 students in their 24 undergraduate academic programs for the 2021-2022 academic year.

In 2019, Rochester University published a bold, 5-year strategic plan to sustain recent growth and establish firm financial sustainability for the long-term. Key strategic priorities include:

  • Add key academic programs that align with regional labor market demand
  • Grow enrollment by enhancing marketing and expanding the prospective student pool

Working with Rize and the LCMC, Rochester has made significant progress toward achieving these strategic priorities. In just 4 months, Rochester identified, developed and approved 7 high-growth academic programs with minimal upfront cost. Over the course of our 2 year partnership, Rochester has attracted a combined 219 applicants and 63 student deposits. 

We spoke with Rochester’s Provost, Dr. Remy Bruder, and VP of Admissions, Marketing, and Student Life, Scott Samuels, to go deeper on how Rochester is leveraging their partnership with Rize to “Rise Together. Stand Apart.” 

Strategic Priority #1 - Add Key Academic Programs 

As provost, Dr. Bruder’s number one priority is starting new academic programs. As a small college, however, adding a new program can be difficult given significant cost and risk. Before partnering with Rize, Rochester had 24 academic programs. This made it challenging to compete with larger regional colleges like Oakland and Eastern Michigan that market hundreds of programs. Scott said of the time, “We were losing market share because we weren’t growing the academic programming that students are asking for today, and cost was the biggest barrier keeping us from doing that.”

“We were losing market share because we weren’t growing the academic programming that students are asking for today, and cost was the biggest barrier keeping us from doing that.”

To assess which Rize programs would be most aligned to the southeastern Michigan labor market, Dr. Bruder leaned on Rochester’s dedicated Academic Partner–Ella Wurth. Working with Ella, Dr. Bruder was able to quickly identify the right programs to fit Rochester’s unique needs, “the materials that came from Ella’s team were really helpful to understand market needs both regionally and across the nation.”

After working with faculty to finalize the program proposals, Rochester ultimately approved a variety of high-demand majors, concentrations and certificates by integrating courses powered by Rize into the Rochester catalog.

Speaking with Dr. Bruder, she expressed her excitement in the new programs’ potential. Rochester students will benefit from the “career-oriented skills learned through Rize courses to complement and enhance their liberal arts degrees.”

When asked about how course material translated to acquiring new skills, a student that completed a Certified Financial Planning course said, “Throughout the course, I was thrilled with the material I was learning. On the one hand, I loved all the new information. On the other hand, it helped me better understand the financial practices I need to use in my everyday life, not just in the profession.”

Strategic Priority #2 - Enhance Marketing and Expand the Prospective Student Pool

After approving the programs through faculty governance, Rochester used Rize’s Enrollment Marketing Services team to promote their new programs. In addition to having access to a team of experts, Rize provided Rochester with pre-built content, including landing pages, flyers, and infographics to more quickly and effectively begin marketing the programs. Scott said of the content, “I got really excited when I saw the initial marketing assets from Rize.” The content from Rize even encouraged Rochester to rework the way they display and promote other offerings at the University. Just several months into the partnership, Scott and his team have created several innovative marketing campaigns that use the new programs as a springboard to attract students.

Once the programs were being promoted across mediums, Rochester saw a combined 219 applicants to their new LCMC programs and 63 new enrollments. These results are extremely encouraging to Dr. Bruder and Scott, who are confident in the long term enrollment value the courses will create. Scott says, “I am anticipating that once we have a year under our belts of promoting these courses, we will start to see even further increases in student interest, but I am really happy with what we have generated so far.”

Beyond attracting new students to programs previously not offered, 17 students self-reported they would have considered transferring or dropping out if relevant Rize courses in their subjects were not available through Rize and the LCMC.

Student Satisfaction Results

While adding in-demand academic programs and boosting enrollment remain central objectives, our primary focus at Rize, in conjunction with our partners, is to provide outstanding course experiences. We routinely conduct end-of-semester surveys for all students enrolled in Rize courses, seeking to gauge both course quality and student contentment. The results from the Spring 2023 survey underscore the excellence of our courses and the dedication of our instructors, reaffirming our unwavering commitment to ensuring the utmost satisfaction of our students.

  • When asked how Rize courses compare to their on-campus courses, 82% of Rochester students responded that they are as good or better than their on-campus courses.
  • When asked how likely they would be to recommend Rize courses to a classmate, 82% of Rochester students responded positively.

With a small student body and ambitions to grow academic offerings significantly, the partnership with Rize and the LCMC was the right fit for Rochester University.  If you’re interested in learning more about Rochester’s story, Scott and Dr. Bruder invite you to reach out to them through Ella Wurth at ewurth@rize.education.

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