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A Conversation With ... Kevin Kropf

Executive Vice President of Enrollment Management, Drury University

Posted online

Why did Drury opt to remove the requirement for standardized tests, such as the ACT and SAT, for prospective students?
No. 1 is just the growing body of knowledge out there that really points to that high school performance, a student’s curriculum, their grades, as the best predictor of collegiate success. We recognize that this is an area we wanted to go in anyway. Given now that there’s going to be a lot of students who don’t have access to tests, this just seemed like the right time. The state said they were going to stop paying for the ACT … and across the state, we know the number of test takers dropped pretty dramatically.

Is this change part of a strategy to boost enrollment?
We’ve seen a 12.5% increase in our traditional undergraduate enrollment since 2015. There was this real intentional effort in terms of outreach and in terms of providing greater accessibility to our students through increased financial aid, an effort to be more attractive to students. This was an attempt to do outreach to students who probably thought their test scores would disqualify them from Drury and ensure them that we’re going to evaluate you as a person with potential for success.

We also wanted to be able to reach students who, because of this COVID crisis, do not have access to standardized testing.

What is Drury’s admittance rate? Do you expect it will be affected?
It’s just above 70%. I really don’t anticipate that changing. We’re going to have to take a much closer examination of high school transcripts. A lot of people who have explored this really look at this as an accessibility issue. A lot of the schools that have done this, they want to reach out to more first-generation students and more students of color.

Tell me about the challenges high school juniors and seniors are facing in the COVID-19 pandemic and what steps you are taking to mitigate those issues.
We’re setting up a variety of things in terms of virtual visits to campus, ensuring that students would have access to admissions counselors and faculty members much in the same way they would have had they been on campus. If we can provide them with some opportunities to see what they can expect to experience when this crisis passes and we get people back on campus, I hope we can give them a message of hope and excitement about the things that Drury thinks are important and that are universal for our students. The decisions we make, even though they’re tough and even though they’re necessary, it gives us a chance to show our values, to demonstrate our culture.

Do you expect your enrollment numbers will be affected in the fall semester?
The last two big disruptions we saw, with things out of our control, were 2008 and the Great Recession. Certainly 2001 with 9/11. This is unparalleled. All of our predictive metrics are saying crazy things. We’re watching a lot of student surveys. And when I read that 1 in 6 students are thinking about not going to college or doing something less than a full-time, four-year experience in the fall; that upwards of a third or more students are thinking about staying closer to home than what they were originally; (and) that 1 in 2 students are exploring whether or not they’re going to be able to attend their first choice institution, that’s an awful lot of market disruption. We’re trying to connect with our students the best we can demonstrate to them that Drury is going to be able to offer life-changing education come the fall and that we’re willing to respond to the financial needs of our students because of changes in the economy. It’s controlling what we can control.

Kevin Kropf can be reached at kkropf@drury.edu.

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