Sara Johnson Leading St. Thomas’ Exhilarating Admissions Growth
In assuming leadership of the exhilarating four-years-in-a-row enrollment surge at the University of St. Thomas-Houston, Sara Johnson ’10 stepped into an expanded position as Director of Admissions in August. Formerly head of the Peavy School of Nursing admissions, Johnson is now over all UST admissions: undergraduate, associate, graduate, and nursing.
She exudes enthusiasm and confidence about her new role and cites the research numbers she checks on daily.
“St. Thomas experienced its largest enrollment increase this fall,” she said with a big smile. “We recorded a 7% increase overall. That’s huge, and it was a record-breaker for us. But hold on, here’s another one. We increased our first-year students by almost 22%.”
Expanded Offerings and Winning Recruitment Strategy
UST has strategically expanded undergraduate study offerings and other education opportunities for students. Enrollment numbers demonstrate the results of these opportunities and a robust recruitment model.
Johnson said, “I get reports sent to me from our research department regularly, and I’m excited to say that we’re up an enormous 85% for fall 2023 applications.”
The University’s recruitment model has expanded its footprint in Houston and Texas. Furthermore, Johnson is leading an effort for some of her team members to engage with high schools and community colleges about the UST experience and affordable opportunities here.
“We’re very intentionally having conversations with high school counselors about costs at St. Thomas, the St. Thomas Promise, and the Rising Stars program,” she explained. “We’re helping them to explore UST to see if we’re a good fit academically, financially and spiritually. Our outreach lets us get in front of high school students and de-mystify UST for them.”
UST’s application numbers confirm that the University’s mission to educate minds, hearts and hands is very appealing to students. They especially respond to UST’s outcomes demonstrating that a St. Thomas education is a proven pathway to job opportunities.
Johnson Innovates Effective New Initiatives
Johnson wasted no time launching a couple of initiatives, resulting in a strong uptick in HISD-related applications.
“First, we publicly celebrated our first admitted student for fall 2023, Monica Martinez. Second, we’ve started to issue automatic acceptance letters to the top 10% of HISD students. We want them to understand that their academic success indicates they would thrive wonderfully at UST.”
Part of Johnson’s strategy is to position UST as the accessible experts on the topic of college access with potential students and parents.
“We have a great admissions team, and we’re in a good position to continue growth,” she asserted with her broad smile.