Enrollment Blog

How an unusual application attracted an exceptional student

by Jennifer Winn

Jamal Encalade could easily have fallen through the college enrollment cracks.

But that would have been a shame. Jamal was an outstanding high school student who led multiple student groups and volunteered to help disadvantaged kids when he was still a kid himself. In the course of four years, he dedicated over 600 hours of service to his community.

But his rich volunteer life sometimes led to poor grades—or at least not the grades he was capable of, even at his acclaimed school, Lusher Charter in New Orleans.

Jamal’s 2.7 GPA was a concern for his advisors, parents, and, of course, himself—especially since he was the first member of his family to aspire to college. Jamal sometimes wished he had studied more before a test rather than staying up late organizing events or planning his next foray into a social justice movement. Despite his impressive ACT score of 27, he feared his GPA disqualified him from a number of colleges on his list—schools with sharp, numerical cutoffs for high school performance.

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All that changed when Spring Hill College's "Leadership Advantage Application" found Jamal four years ago, altering his life forever. How? Spring Hill College (a Jesuit liberal arts school in Mobile, Alabama) had worked with EAB Enrollment Services, to craft an application and corresponding process designed to find, engage, and enroll talented, well-rounded, and socially conscious students like Jamal.

Finding a home to flourish

This application—unlike many traditional applications—enabled Spring Hill to gain a nuanced understanding of Jamal’s qualifications. Its questions invited Jamal to elaborate on his community service, student leadership duties, and mature relationships with school administrators and social activists.

A confident writer and orator, Jamal relished the chance to express himself in essays and an on-campus interview. Because the Spring Hill application process began before the start of his senior year, Jamal was done applying to—and choosing—his college in October, months before many students even complete their first application form.

Fast forward four years, and Jamal’s impressive record confirms Spring Hill College was the right choice. A Donnelly Scholar, Jamal flourished as both a student and a leader. He is the communications director of the Multicultural Student Union, founder of the Men of Color Council Legacy Chapter, and a winner of The Spirit of Spring Hill Award, which recognizes students who have demonstrated academic excellence, leadership, and service in congruence with the college mission statement.

Paying it forward

Furthering what might be thought of as his own mission, Jamal has taken up the charge of both cultivating and recruiting talented, college-ready students like himself.

Throughout his college career, he has worked in the Spring Hill College enrollment office as a Springhillian Ambassador Leader and has served in a number of teaching and leadership roles for Breakthrough New Orleans—an organization dedicated to helping at-risk students develop the skills they need to succeed in high school and beyond.

As enrollment professionals, our best work is done when we look beyond the seats we need to fill to the longer term measures of student success, like engagement and retention. Jamal is a happy reminder of how a customized recruitment strategy can ensure the students who are most likely to flourish on your unique campus will enroll, persist, and thrive.

And don't forget—hundreds of thousands of students like Jamal are out there, just waiting to be found.

Who are you hoping will join your freshman class?

Without the right application, you might be missing out on a student leader in next year's class. Learn more about how our Enrollment Services' custom applications can ensure you don't overlook any prospective standout students.

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