Moving Graduate Admissions from Academic Affairs to Enrollment Management


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Lessons learned from moving a semi-decentralized graduate admission function from Academic affairs to Enrollment management. We will discuss how we assembled a team and created an office of graduate admissions and our program-specific model of admissions processing.

Mary Pascarella
Director of Graduate Admissions
Sam Houston State University

Diane McCormick
Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management
Sam Houston State University

Published in: Education
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  • Breakout undergrad and grad enrollment numbers.

    List all 7 colleges

    Include 25 certification programs. For graduate – we have graduate advisors which
  • Decentralized application process at the graduate level. Admissions office processed the decisions in Banner but the programs actually made the decision.

    All paper based through campus mail. Material was lost, misplaced. Lack of trust from the programs of the processing office.
  • Campus awareness and buy-in – Roadshow to Deans and colleges – shift focus to marketing. Can be difficult for faculty to understand importance of marketing
  • Ending marketing slide – we proved ourselves in marketing. Next step was application processing.
  • We decided to keep an eye towards the future knowing that there would be some kind of a BANNER expansion to supplement ApplyTexas, which does not support uploading of materials via the EDI
    We decided to utilize our recruiter to assist with application processing so she knows the internal workings of how applications move through our IT system. Additionally, she is trained in FA and can answer many of these questions. She manages the fine line of not interfering with the program advisor/student relationship. She answers questions, assists with compiling a complete application that is ready for review. She does not advise on suitability of an applicant for a program, we do not review applications, we do not articulate transcripts. We do not
  • We leverage results of Web-opt to drive prospects and applicants to our program landing pages.
    Program landing pages also help us manage the decentralized nature of Graduate Admissions
  • Many of the things we do show good-faith efforts that we are trying to employ to garner support among the programs.
  • Reports to help assist them with their prospect and applicant pools.
    Put items out there for programs and then had to have a ‘wait and see’ approach – allow them time to adjust/modify/ask questions
    It is clear that to recruit more students we need a better application system that supports document uploading
  • Moving Graduate Admissions from Academic Affairs to Enrollment Management

    1. 1. GRADUATE ADMISSIONS SAM HOUSTON STATE UNIVERSITY Diane McCormick Assistant VP Enrollment Management Mary Pascarella Director of Graduate Admissions
    2. 2. Moving Graduate Admissions from Academic Affairs to Enrollment Management
    3. 3. Who We Are • Established in 1879 as a teachers college • Over 19,200 students enrolled • 7 Academic Colleges • Over 80 bachelor degrees, 62 master degrees, and 6 doctoral programs • Two satellite campuses – The Woodlands Center and Northwest Houston University Park • 25 fully online programs
    4. 4. Changes in Culture • Go-live with Banner in 2010 – change in processing applications and technical needs • Slow increase graduate enrollment • Need to market online and graduate programs effectively • Need to identify enrollment barriers especially for students who could not physically come to campus during normal office hours.
    5. 5. Enrollment Audit • Selected a third party consulting firm • Audit consisted of the following departments ⁻ Undergraduate Admissions ⁻ Graduate Studies ⁻ Registrar’s Office ⁻ Financial Aid ⁻ Bursar’s Office ⁻ SAM Center (advising) ⁻ Institutional Technology
    6. 6. Findings • Foundation of application processing and prospect student database system were housed in Enrollment Management not Academic Affairs • Paper based application process system • Lack of communication to prospects and applicants • Basic marketing efforts existing but needed to be expanded • Minimal web presence or search engine optimization at the graduate level • Graduate advisors were the main point of contact for prospects and applicants was mainly
    7. 7. Audit Findings From Academic Affairs To Enrollment Management Move Graduate Admissions
    8. 8. Web Optimization Team •Refresh SHSU homepage to focus on prospective student audience, not our internal users •Improve search engine optimization for program pages •Update program landing pages •Campus awareness and buy-in
    9. 9. Digital Marketing •Partnership with Hobsons Solutions •Focus on graduate and online programs •Online advertising with key words for search engine optimization •Relationship building with program advisors •Email communication to prospects and applicants
    10. 10. Campaign Creative
    11. 11. Prospect Management • Prospects click our advertising and are sent to a Microsite that advertises “Featured Programs” • Prospects do one of two things: • Complete a form that triggers a communication plan (direct response) • Leave the microsite, but visit the University website directly (indirect response) • Direct response leads are added to a communication plan • Communication plans include: • Automated series of email messages (number and content of messages varies depending on area of interest). • Telephone calls to establish personal connections with students
    12. 12. Campaign Response • Two distinct kinds of response to the Online Marketing Campaign. • Direct campaign response – Prospects complete an interest form and the leads drop into Hobson’s communication plans • Indirect response – Prospects back out of the microsite and use a search engine to locate the university’s .edu website. • Results in increased referral traffic • Lead’s generated via regular Hobson’s Interest Pages or applications directly from the website.
    13. 13. Direct Campaign Response
    14. 14. Direct Campaign Response *Through March 24, 2014
    15. 15. Marketing Comparison Prospect * 11,830 Prospect * 835 Applied 153— 1.3% Enrolled 5—0.04% * From June 2013-March 2014 Applied 151—17.7% Enrolled 14—1.7% Reply Cards Digital Marketing
    16. 16. Application Conversion Rates - Comparison For general population, applications opened August 2012. Digital Marketing efforts started in June 2013.
    17. 17. Direct Campaign Response • Please note – Summer and Fall 2014 Registration has not yet opened. Digital Marketing was set to impact Fall 2014. • 91 Apps on file for summer/fall 2014
    18. 18. Indirect Campaign Response
    19. 19. THE NEW ORDER OF BUSINESS Systems and Roles
    20. 20. Infrastructure • BANNER with BANNER document imaging and ApplyTexas • For 2013 we processed: • 1,141 Spring • 1,051 Summer • 2,265 Fall • Supplemental materials such as references, resumes, and transcripts are sent by mail or email • CRM is Hobson’s Connect
    21. 21. How We Structured the New Department •Our Recruiter – VIP of many hats! • Recruitment – minimal fairs. On-campus events and programs professional associations. • Serves as liaison with application processors and other constituencies • Office Manager •2 Application Processing Analysts •2 Marketing Professionals
    22. 22. Decentralized Centralization •Admission decision remains with academic program • We do not interfere with the program advisor/student relationship • We assist with the process of applying •We admit all 3 terms •Deadlines and supplemental materials vary by program
    23. 23. How We Communicate with Prospects in-accounting/
    24. 24. Initial First Steps Embrace program specificity – no one size fits all Leverage CRM for communication to prospects
    25. 25. Application Processing and Review Transparency App collection and review largely a paper-based and manual process Solutions: • Scheduled weekly per- applicant status reports for advisors • Summary reports to Deans Two App Analysts The “front line of Graduate Admissions” for prospects and grad programs • Analysts assigned to colleges to improve customer experience • Field 2,000+ calls/month and even more emails
    26. 26. We Took Our Show on the Road • Met with programs • Learned pain points and goals • Mostly, we listened
    27. 27. Lessons Learned •Gain credibility through reports and data •We have a paper-based application system •Program Advisors change like the wind •Graduate catalog is not a business process manual •Transparent processes
    28. 28. Diane McCormick dgm006 Mary Pascarella marypascarella
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