The University of Alabama – National Player in More Ways than One

Thinking of UA, football and Greek life are probably on the top of the list. Dominance in these areas have been attracting students for many years, but there is a “well oiled machine” behind the immense operations. 

The University of Alabama has quite the strategy to attracting top students, players, and movers within the coming generations and beyond. 
Photo By: Carmen K. Sisson
Photo By: Carmen K. Sisson

The roar of Bryant Denny Stadium on a Saturday stands out among the rest, in many respects. The excellence that Coach Nick Saban, and those before him, requires has lead the team to many national championships, and the overwhelming sense of community begins and ends with the University’s students; Greek life playing a major role. 

Photo By: BuzzFeed
Photo By: BuzzFeed 
The impact that football has on the University is obvious, and is made evident even to the individual perspective student that starts his/her tour inside the stadium. 

Besides the sports, UA has one heck of a marketing/PR operation that dominates the competition. In the recent NY Times article, the journey of one bright student is highlighted. 

Ms. Zavilowitz first noticed the university on Facebook. A few clicks and Bama was omnipresent. Pop-ups, emails and literature piqued her interest. She visited, took the bus tour, was tickled by the Southern hospitality. Her mother appreciated detailed parent information suggesting “a well-oiled machine.”

– Laura Pappano, New York Times

“Think big and recruit.” 

A simple statement that describes the university’s recruitment plans to a tee, but the strategy is ever so detailed. Due to only 12.5% of funding coming from the state, UA has to have such a plan; competition revs up every year, and Alabama is playing in the big leagues now, with recruitment practices at the tip of the spear, or should I say trunk?
Allocating resources in the right direction is the name of the game, and merit aid is ever so important not only to attract those who excelled in high school, but who are in need of federal aid. 

Allocating resources in the right direction is the name of the game, and merit aid is ever so important not only to attract those who excelled in high school, but who are in need of federal aid. 

UA’s Budget Stat:

  • $100.6 Million in Merit Aid – it was $8.3 Million a decade ago

The educational requirements put on incoming students are becoming much more competitive. This not only raises tuition costs, but enacts higher average required test/GPA scores among those who apply. The University is looking, through the merit based scholarships, to attract young intelectual talent,  and not surprisingly is doing quite well as they continue to grow year to year.

Enrollment Stats:

  • 37,665 freshmen this fall – up 58% from 2006
  • Average GPA – 3.66
  • Average ACT – 31

Merit aid given to achievers has a magnetic effect. “If we recruit five students from a high school, we will get 10 students the next year and they may not all be scholarship students,” said Stuart R. Bell, president of the University of Alabama.
– Laura Pappano, The New York Times

The focus on merit based scholarships, and attracting top talent, has opened doors to many bright students receiving full-tuition; although seemingly counter-intuitive, the university certainly has its ways of creating revenue to make this an even larger opportunity. Through meal plans, room & board, sporting tickets and memorabilia for all fans, this has turned into a business that is profiting the school and all rising generations. 

Revenue Stats:

  • $173 Million – Extras and “Essentials” bought
  • $633 Million – Tuition and Fees – up from $135 Million from 2005

These assets go into the overall aesthetic in terms of the cookie cutter dorms/houses, slick streets, and the 64 additional buildings built within the last 10 years. Furthering the look is ever important and it goes hand in hand with the universities goals; “The university must have campus facilities that are competitive to meet student enrollment…”
A trend that is impacting the entire state of Alabama seems to be taking hold. Innovation and ambition has its costs, as highlighted in the article. UA is utilizing this trend to offer its flavor of prestigious academia to students who have not been so fortunate to afford normal school in these economic times.

This rise in costs has promoted students to look into schools that may not suite their comfort zone in terms of location, but that want their financial stability; The University of Alabama being one of those.

Photo By: Bob Miller - The New York Times
Photo By: Bob Miller – The New York Times

Jillian Mazon, a native of Burlington, Conn., told The Times she is still getting used to the humidity, but it does not take away from the fact that she is in the right place. The search though started some time ago. 

…she was certain after two visits that Vanderbilt was her top choice — until the full-tuition scholarship and admission to the honors college came from Alabama.
– Laura Pappano, The New York Times

Again, UA’s recruiting is unmatched and the opportunities they offer are certainly exploited; full-tuition may have been the deciding factor, but operations of recruitment showcase the entire story.
They have a team of 45 recruiters, 36 of which are stationed throughout the country. Dee McGraw-Hickey is one of those recruiters, living on Long Island, who has/is hosting 80 events between September and Thanksgiving; parities with a bit of southern charm full of sweet tea, lemonade, and corn hole. 

The amount of weight UA puts into getting face to face with perspective students and exploiting the opportunities to those who have put in the hard work is completely necessary. College is looking like more of a burden in this country, and even those who deserve to go right out of high school are stained for the funds. This is the mission the school’s president wants to build upon.

To do so, it takes funding from alumni and private capital.

Raising alumni money for academics, much as the Crimson Tide Foundation has cultivated athletic boosters, is on Dr. Bell’s wish list. “That is an area we are going to grow,” he said. “That is a culture shift.”
– Laura Pappano, The New York Times

This is yet another trend. Universities may not be able to rely on public funding for the majority of their benefits they hand out to students, and many schools are jumping on board; University of Alabama of course being one.

This not only creates more value to the students degrees, as alumni pour funds into programs, but it shows a huge sense of community that Alabama has and is furthering.  

Competition is great for this sector of industry. Students not only need to be pushed to work hard so they can attend a university of their choice, but they also need to be given that ample financial opportunity.

A special thanks to The University of Alabama for fighting the fight, biting the bit, and sticking to what makes this country great; providing a way for those who work hard.

Wade Cline
Wade Cline

Marketing Producer at Bham Now, Tech Junkie, Foodie, Bham Lover, Movie Snob, Wannabe Quantum Physicist. You can likely find me either at Trim Tab Brewing or O'henry's Coffee in Homewood.

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