Allan Schneider said he was in complete shock when a bulldog showed up at his high school study hall in February. It wasn’t any bulldog. It was Butler Blue III, or Trip, with Michael Kaltenmark, his handler and Butler University’s Director of External Relations. They were there to deliver a surprise.
“I instantly knew that something was going on when I saw Trip come in and then I saw my mom,” Schneider said. “I knew some good news was about to happen. Now, I get to go to Butler and pursue my dreams in life. Ever since I talked to the alumni and the people there, they have nothing but great things to say about Butler and how wonderful it is.” Schneider is one of about 75 prospective students that Trip surprised this school year with an in-person visit, often to deliver an admission decision or scholarship. And while most won’t be swayed by a visit from a bulldog, the personal touch certainly helps.
This is all part of the #ButlerBound campaign.
Students who are surprised by Trip tend to commit to attend Butler the following year at a 20-30 percent rate. That compares to a 10-15 percent yield rate for all other admitted students. Prospective students often say how much the visit shows that Butler cares and makes them feel special, which is what Butler is all about. And while Kaltenmark and Evan Krauss, one of the marketers on Butler’s team, can only visit so many students each year, the impact is far greater, Kaltenmark says. Posts to social media and students and parents telling their families and friends have a ripple effect.
“Butler Bound has become a tagline for our new student recruitment, and specifically, our prospective students that we look to bring to Butler, so when they commit or when they’ve been accepted we hope that they will hold up their poster and post on social media that they are Butler Bound,” Kaltenmark said. “We hope this gets a larger audience to buy into the concept and embrace the Butler family before they even get here.” Kaltenmark and the team started visiting prospective students about four years ago. They often target cities that already have an alumni event scheduled, or an away basketball game taking place there. The team has surprised students in Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Boston, New York City, Orlando, Detroit, and Chicago, to name a few.
Some students have already been admitted to Butler, others are waiting to hear, and sometimes, Trip arrives with news of full tuition. That was the case with Schneider. The Bishop Chatard High School senior interviewed for the Butler Tuition Guarantee and was waiting to hear if he would receive full tuition. Then, Trip arrived in his study hall.
Schneider’s mother, Katrina, was thrilled for her son. “My son gets to go to the college of his dreams,” she said. “To see his face and to know that his dreams just came true, I can’t even describe it.”