The New Admissions Funnel


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A brief description of the admissions process overview through the lens of the changing "Admissions Funnel." This presentation would be most helpful for brand new admissions personnel or for others who want to know more about the craft of admissions but will not be directly involved in it - board members, for example.

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  • Created in the 1980’s, the funnel was a great way to categorize and plan for enrollment classes. Institutions had immense control over the “Brand” in a seller’s market. The purpose of this presentation is to give historical background and insights for how to move forward as the market changes dramatically.
  • Even though not all lead sources are created equal, the ones that do not traditionally convert as well as others could be a response to poor communication strategy. Therefore, schools should review strategy along with conversion rates. Volume is also an important consideration. Depending on the institution, number of names in a funnel for a recruitment year could range from 2000 to 200,000. Resources and strategy will dictate which Sources get a letter and which may get a phone call immediately.
  • Conceptually, the “old school” method relied upon pushing students from one stage to another.
  • Review the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Web site and Western Institute Commission on Higher Education for specific information regarding your state and region.
  • For more information on the impact and influence of social media on students and parents, check out Noel-Levitz’s annual E-Expectations series and Pew Research Center’s library as well. Stamats white papers are superb.
  • The New Admissions Funnel

    1. 1. Joe SzejkThought Leadership Series 402-960-4528
    2. 2. The Funnel - DefinedEnrollment managers have traditionally shaped their strategies aroundthe model of the enrollment “funnel” metaphor.  Most volume of names at the top, these students indicated a low level of interest;  As the funnel moved southward and narrowed, student interest was (in theory) greater;  Each step down signified a milestone in moving from one inquiry or application status Understanding the numbers game was vital for enrollment managers to put volume in at the appropriate slot – pushing students from one stage to the next.
    3. 3. Entry PointsThe point of entry into an institution’s database is known as Lead Source byenrollment managers. Each lead source has different behavior patterns.Example Lead Sources & Arching Classifications – Self-initiated -Internet E-mail or ACT score senders; Travel - College Fairs, High School Visits; Responders -Bought Name Reply Card, Tearaways from Posters; Referrals - Alumni, Student, Coach, Guidance Counselor.Experienced enrollment managers understand the various behavior patternsof the Lead Sources and treat them differently. For example, Self-initiatedLead Sources students tend to have a much higher interest level thanResponders. ACT score senders may get immediate phone call rather than ageneral letter.Each institution has “best” lead sources in both terms of quantity and quality.
    4. 4. Old School Funnel •Bought Names—have expressed no interest yet Prospects •Have communicated to the institution Inquiries •Completed an application but have not sent all materials Applicants •Have sent all materials (transcripts, ACTs, etc.) Completed File •Have met admissions criteria for acceptance Admitted •Have committed to institution via deposit Deposit •Have registered for classes and completed all steps Enrollee
    5. 5. Fast Forward Today Due to shifting demographics, the role of technology,and altered patterns of student behavior, the traditionalfunnel management approach is proving inadequate tothe challenge of meeting institutional enrollment goals.
    6. 6. Lay of the Land - DemographicsInstitutions will compete more heavily for the next half decade (atleast) for the traditional student, as fewer are graduating from highschool and many are not entering four-year colleges immediately.Key Points - The majority of states are seeing smaller graduating high school classes through 2018. Hispanic and African American student populations may partially offset white population losses. Community colleges have burgeoned. The “face” of the undergraduate student populations will be very different than five years ago. Colleges must adapt. NCES predicts growth in adult and graduate education.
    7. 7. Technology’s RoleInstitutions no longer control the information regarding their school; andlikewise, lose some of the predictability for enrollment. Where collegeselection was generally a solitary path between student and school, tensof millions of voices have joined in the journey. As with every other consumer preparing to make a purchase, prospective students expect immediate access to information; Given the influence of social media personalization, these students are most interested in the information pertinent to their selection criteria; Millennial Students (born between 1981 and 2000) are more engaged and connect to networks than previous generations, leading to a strong reliance on influencers—parents, peers, prestige—for college choice; Colleges must struggle between the unofficial channels of information and the “stealth shoppers.”
    8. 8. Where are We Now?Enrollment Managers must redirect energies from simplymoving students along to the next stage to boosting Brandaffinity and sharing pertinent information to the students atthat stage of the funnel. We are in world where we must navigate, not control, the message; Discerning consumers expect answers that provide real value to their fundamental questions about your school; Build a communications plan around motivation not inquiry or application status!