Old stereotypes die hard. Despite Georgia Southern’s growth and advancement in recent history, the name “Georgia Southern” once meant “back-up” and “party” school for most Georgians, who continued to understand the university in unflattering contrast to the state flagship, UGA. When Carnegie declared Georgia Southern a Doctoral-Research University, a significant status bump, the university’s leaders sought a memorable marketing campaign that would redefine Georgia Southern across the state and region.
Even the highest achieving Georgia Southern students, some of whom did choose the university as a back-up, expressed extremely high levels of satisfaction with both the caliber of academic opportunities and the friendly and supportive environment of Georgia Southern. Quantitative research bore out what focus group participants suggested: a 90% choose-again rate by current students, parents, and recent alumni—an astonishing figure by any standard, but almost unheard of for a large public university. The university’s unique value proposition within the University System of Georgia became clear: Best-fit Georgia Southern students wanted a big-time university experience, and also a personal college experience.
While many colleges and universities throughout Georgia offered one or the other, only Georgia Southern reliably and simultaneously offered both a large-scale and small-feel dynamic. The new messages encourage prospects to weigh the advantages of a big university alongside the advantages of a small college, representing them as equally attractive options that students usually have to choose between. Happily, at Georgia Southern, prospects find both in relaxed, purposeful balance.
Since the launch of the new messaging, the university has enjoyed both a record number of applicants and the highest incoming student SAT scores in its history. Enrollment rose by another 600 students in the program’s second year. What’s more, Georgia Southern’s leaders have fully embraced the university’s newly expressed identity and incorporated it into their strategic vision, ensuring that as Georgia Southern grows into the future, its promise to students will remain the same.
CRANE work works!
–Teresa Thompson, Ph.D.,
Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management