Achieving Academic Excellence While Meeting the Needs of New Demographics of Higher Education

2019 convocationLSU welcomed its largest incoming class this fall 2019 semester. The incoming freshman class is the most academically accomplished in the history of LSU and boasts an average ACT of 25.42 and a grade-point average of 3.66. The class also ranks the highest in honors commits with 860 students. In addition, the class is among the most diverse ever, with a 130 percent increase in African American students and a 105 percent increase in Hispanic students.

The Office of Academic Affairs met with Vice President for Enrollment Management, Jose Aviles, to discuss our data-driven recruiting efforts that have led to this impressive freshman class.

“In a world around us that is changing dramatically and rapidly in terms of demographics, socioeconomics, and race and ethnicity, LSU needed to meet the needs of those students and encourage them to see LSU as an authentic destination for them to participate in higher education, and for them to ultimately choose us,” said Aviles.

Aviles and his team have identified the local and national key markets – first generation, PELL grant-eligible, underrepresented students – in which students have the propensity to apply and enroll, and have ensured that LSU has high visibility in those areas.

“We have exponentially expanded the actual recruitment effort in those areas –  the time that our recruiters are spending in those places, have very carefully spent time developing the relationship with the guidance communities in those places, and I think that’s really the heart of the success,” said Aviles. “We believe there are bright students in every school and we know that students just have greater needs in order to successfully participate in college admissions.”

LSU ensured the academic excellence message surpassed any other message so that students of all demographics could see themselves participating in a flagship institution such as LSU.

“When students come onto campus and participate in visit experiences, we want to highlight all of the extraordinary faculty and staff that work on this campus that will work directly with them,” said Aviles. “We also want to ensure that these prospective students can interact with some of our current students who will further enhance their understanding of the potential that this institution has in really transforming their lives and providing them a foundation for their future success.”

Aviles also mentioned that LSU is an engine of social mobility, and as a public, land-grant institution, it should be recruiting the most talented and broadly diverse classes available.

“Our philosophy is that we should ensure that we are accessible, and that we highly encourage participation for students who have earned the right to participate at the flagship institution,” said Aviles. “And truly at the heart of what we do and the work that we set out to do every cycle is to find those students and encourage their participation and ensure that we are bringing together the most accomplished classes to LSU, but also the most broadly diverse groups of freshmen that we can possibly get.”

Aviles has worked in enrollment management for 22 years and at eight different institutions in the country – three being flagship institutions. He has served in leadership positions in enrollment and also has extensive experience in retention. Aviles has served as the vice president for enrollment management at LSU for two years.