Enrollment management -- what we all used to know as "admissions" back in the day -- is more data-driven than ever before. The funnel is changing, and communication streams are getting more complex. Ensuring that your web team and enrollment team are on the same page is a great way to make sure that your school is maximizing its potential to enroll the right students. Higher enrollment (yield) = more $$ = more HighEdWeb! (What else are you going to do with that? Hire an assistant?!)
This was session #tie10 in the "Technology in Education" track at HighEdWeb 2014.
How many of you would say you work closely with the other side?
For the web folks: What do you think admissions folks do?
Let’s play! My web friends -- can you define these terms?
CHRIS: In the beginning… there was the admissions funnel.
NICOLE: As soon as “admissions” became a thing, and it wasn’t just “well, let’s see who walks in the door,” the funnel was developed out of the old marketing funnel. (Explain how funnel works.)
CHRIS: And there were things we did to feed that funnel. We had college fairs, where we all stood around in the high school gym on a Tuesday night and talked to parents, and we had guidance counselors, and we had college guidebooks.
How many of you have seen a college fair setup?
But somewhere along the line, the funnel changed; and suddenly, we realized that we had students who were coming into our application cycle who we’d never heard from. How did that happen?
CHRIS: What happened was not that the funnel changed – what happened was that we actually looked at the funnel and started to *think* about what that funnel actually meant, and how we could actually take the funnel apart and reconstruct it in a way that allowed us a little bit more control over what happens in the enrollment cycle. And yes, we started thinking about it as the “enrollment cycle,” not just the admissions cycle. Because the great shift that happened in the past several years with something called “stealth applicants.”
Students were entering the funnel wherever they wanted, and on their control. Those pieces that we had control over – or that we thought we had control over – suddenly we didn’t. Students started applying to ten, fifteen schools. Students started double depositing. The economy collapsed, and the looming spectre of college debt became a thing, and “value” became important. And then “affordability” became MORE important. And students started thinking like consumers instead of like students. They stopped signing up for everything as their inboxes started to fill up, and we didn’t have as great of a handle as to who these students were as we may have had years ago.
Any admissions person who’s ever worked with, say, faculty members, will have heard things like “why don’t you just get us more students?,” or “just admit better students.” Because this funnel, this old-timey funnel marketing concept is so engrained in what we do. If we dump more people into the top of the funnel – buy more names, introduce a “fast app” that will allow students to apply more easily, lower admissions standards (HA!) – then it’ll shake out in the end and we’ll get what we want, right?
Well, it’s just not that easy, unfortunately. So let’s talk about a few things that you can do to help make your admissions people’s lives easier – because in a lot of ways, they hold the fate of your campus in their hands and their rolling suitcases full of search pieces and inquiry cards.
NICOLE: 1. Silos suck. We know that. Figure out where your silos are, and help break them down. Get everyone involved in the enrollment process. As hard as we try, there are still some things that we, the admissions folks, have very little control over.
2. KNOW what your yield issues are. Get data. Focus groups are wonderful, but if you have good data on the front end, then the discussion is easy.
Because do you know what happens when the admissions folks don’t calculate correctly? We wind up under-enrolling, and missing out on tuition dollars. Or we wind up over-enrolling, which *seems* like a great problem to have, until you’re tripling your entire freshman class and there’s no space in freshman calculus courses and suddenly you’ve got a whole incoming class of students who aren’t on track to graduate on time. And then your enrollment manager winds up like this…
3. Enrollment management people are ALWAYS looking forward. Looking back, statistically, but always looking forward. I had a discussion with one of our Marine Science faculty about increasing enrollment in one of our particular programs, and we were talking about reaching out to high school seniors who maybe aren’t admissible now, but could benefit from a year or two at community college, so they’re looking at Fall 2017 enrollment… and what we can do to help them know so they’re on track for 2017. Try talking to a faculty member about something five semesters down the road – I had never actually seen someone’s head explode.
But it’s important to facilitate that discussion, and to always be thinking about what the next set of students will need, and to anticipate that, electronically. MORE HERE
4. Don’t be afraid to build for the future. Make sure the pieces are in place to make your life easier as you go forward; make information easy to find and easy to digest. I don’t have to go into a ton of detail about mobile technology, and responsive design, and all that. It’s here now, and it’s only getting bigger, and we know that. So plan for it. Because the more data enrollment folks can get on students, the better we can make sure to bring in a class that will not just enroll, but persist and graduate.
We talk about parents and students, but there’s another variable in this – guidance counselors. (Live site?)
NICOLE 6. COMMUNICATE! Make sure you’re on the same page. Our admissions office has a liaison with our Communications office; they work in our office, but they’re involved in staff meetings on both sides, so we always know what’s going on. If there’s something that affects your school, it’s likely that it’s going to affect your enrollment as well. If you’re seeing it on the web, so are your students.
We’re the earpiece and mouthpiece for prospective students
We did an Admissions Live show yesterday, and Ron Bronson, who many of you know, spent a year working in admissions for a SUNY school. And he said yesterday that it changed his entire view on the web. He suggested that web people spend one day on the road with an admissions counselor, and really get a sense of what it is we do on the road.
Because when the admissions office meets their numbers, everybody’s happy.
Making Love To The Admissions Office -- #heweb14 #tie10
Making Love To The
Enrollment Management 101
for Web Professionals
ADMISSIONS TERMS 101
“student who wants to be a doctor but failed HS biology”