Alma College’s trend-setting student referral program has received an international Circle of Excellence Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).
The Alma Ambassador® Student Referral Program, led by Alma College’s Advancement and Admissions offices, supports the institution’s efforts to maximize the enrollment of quality students. The referral program is a signature element of the award-winning Alma Ambassador Program®, a comprehensive effort to organize, support and promote all types of volunteer service to the college and community.
The referral program received a Gold Award in the General Advancement: Collaborative Programs category as an exceptional partnership of departments working together to support student enrollment. The Circle of Excellence recognition marks Alma College’s 10th award for alumni engagement and fundraising excellence from CASE in the last three years.
“[We] were impressed with Alma College’s ability to unite many departments that don’t always work together, from admissions to alumni to development,” CASE judges noted in their prepared statement. “This wide-sweeping collaboration has made institutional impact on the college, and many other private universities seem to be replicating it already.”
Prior to the program’s launch, the college averaged fewer than 50 referrals per year. In 2018, Ambassadors referred 1,318 students, and referred students ultimately comprised 56 percent of Alma’s entering class in that year.
“The incredible success of our referral program is a testament to the work of our Ambassadors in expanding the Alma family and the dedication of our staff to working creatively and collaboratively toward shared goals,” says Jeff Abernathy, president. “It is incredibly exciting for Alma’s efforts to be recognized for excellence on a global scale.”
Ambassadors who refer a student receive regular communication and updates throughout the student’s decision-making process. The communications include a virtual admissions “toolkit,” suggestions on how and when to followup with a referred student, and a newsletter outlining key points to know during the admissions cycle.
“The referral program is a key part of our admissions strategy,” says Amanda Slenski, vice president for admissions. “It connects us with students who are a fantastic fit with Alma, but who we may not have reached otherwise. A true collaborative effort, it demonstrates how different departments can come together for the greater good of the college and the students we serve.”
Referred students who ultimately attend Alma College receive the Alma College Referral Award, which provides $1,500 per year in the name of the individual who referred the student to the college.
“We are deeply honored to be recognized by our industry peers,” says Matt vandenBerg, vice president for advancement and external relations. “We are especially grateful for the commitment, diligence, leadership and generous spirit of our more than 4,000 Ambassadors. Together, Ambassadors are changing our institution, our students’ lives, and the world for the better.”
CASE is the global association for advancement professionals. The organization’s annual Circle of Excellence Awards recognizes outstanding work in advancement services, alumni relations, communication, fundraising and marketing. More than 2,800 entries from more than 600 member-institutions in 20 countries were submitted for the 2019 awards competition.