Assessing the Impact of University Open House Activities

By Fischbach, Ronald | College Student Journal, March 2006 | Go to article overview

Assessing the Impact of University Open House Activities


Fischbach, Ronald, College Student Journal


This article describes the efforts of California State University, Northridge to use of an open house event to increase the enrollment rate of high school and transfer students who have received acceptance letters to enter the university. Competition among publicly supported universities for their fair share of entering freshman and transfer students has brought a need to employ new and creative means of attracting future students. The goal of the study was to use the survey data as part of a long term planning process for future open house events. The data demonstrated that the vast majority of participants perceived the open house event positively, and as satisfying their need to obtain information about the university. A minority of the participants identified specific content areas for future open house events to address, they included: the university's administrative structure, more in depth information about academic programs, an opportunity to review course content, observation of sample pedagogical methodologies, and a summary of current degree requirements. The results of this study demonstrate that an open house event serves as a valuable mechanism to communicate a positive image of the University to prospective students. In addition, the results provide insight into specific aspects of the event that require modification for future.

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In the competitive marketplace of higher education a primary objective of any university is to increase the rate of acceptance of those applicants who have received invitations to attend the university. A study of factors that predict whom among recruited university applicants are most likely to attend, found that participation in open house activities was one of four positively correlated variables (Thomas & Dawes, 1999). Lejeune (1977) found that open house activities, including tours of the facilities, significantly increased applicant enrollment in vocational schools. As part of the California State University, Northridge (CSUN) annual Open House activities the College of Health and Human Development (CHHD), one of nine colleges, conducted an open house participant-satisfaction survey.

California State University, Northridge is located in the northeast San Fernando Valley of suburban Los Angeles. Current enrollment is 32, 596 students, with 24, 023 full-time equivalent (FFE), 25, 166 undergraduates and 7, 430 graduates. The survey was made available to all participants attending the open house activities. The purpose of the survey was to ascertain the extent to which CHHD Open House Planning Committee met the needs of the attendees. The analysis of the survey data will serve as means of improving future Open House activities, and increasing the rate of acceptance of CSUN's offers to attend the University.

Methodology

The survey consisted of an eighteen-item self-administered instrument. Ten of the items contained a four point Licard scale. Three of the items were open-ended questions, and the remaining five contained multiple-choice items. Table 1 contains the complete survey. The survey was distributed after the initial morning greetings or at the end of the last activity of the day's presentations. Those who received the instrument in the morning were instructed to not fill out the survey until after the entire program was completed. Although there was no measurable way to determine the total number of participants, it was estimated that approximately four hundred individuals attended the CHHD portion of the Open House activities.

Results

The total number of individuals completing the survey was sixty-one. Of the sixty-one attendees nine were parents, fourteen identified themselves as community college students, one was a high school sophomore, one was a high school junior, and thirty-seven were high school seniors. Slightly more than seventy-five percent of the respondents indicted that they had already applied to CSUN, just under ten percent reported that they plan on applying to CSUN in the future, and five percent stated that they had no plans on making application to CSUN. …

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