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Unlocking the Potential of Enrollment Crm at Community Colleges


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Community colleges are considered to be a critical contributor in creating employment and filling skill gaps among U.S. workers. However, the decline in enrollment at community colleges is a growing concern as more schools are failing to meet their enrollment goals. A U.S. Census report released on September 24, 2014 indicated that community colleges and 2-year junior colleges experienced a 10 percent decline in enrollment from 2012 to 2013.

The white paper titled “Unlocking the Potential of Enrollment CRM at Community Colleges” highlights the need for implementing Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) and the key features that CRM systems offer for addressing declining enrollment at community colleges.

About ProRetention:
ProRetention our flagship product, a comprehensive Student Lifecycle CRM is designed to help universities track, manage, service and engage students. Enrollment CRM increases effective nurturing and conversion of inquiries into students, Success CRM raises service and engagement levels leading to student success, and Advancement CRM encourages their fund raising and institutional participation.

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Unlocking the Potential of Enrollment Crm at Community Colleges

  1. 1. Unlocking the potential of Enrollment CRM at Community Colleges Winning Strategy to Increase Enrollments
  2. 2. Introduction .............................................................................................................. 3 CRM Adoption in Community Colleges .................................................................. 4 Need of CRM in Community Colleges .................................................................... 4 Key Features of Student Lifecycle CRM ................................................................. 6 Considerations for Student CRM Investment .......................................................... 7 Summary ................................................................................................................. 9 Table of Contents 2
  3. 3. Community colleges are considered to be a critical contributor in creating employment and filling skill gaps among U.S. workers. The sector received additional exposure recently as President Obama proposed a program of free community college tuition for any qualified student. But unfortunately, demographic trends have shown a decline in the number of graduating high school seniors in some regions. And the improving economy, while generally good news, has led to diminished demand for the type of career-focused programs that are a staple of community colleges. As a result of these factors, community college enrollment has been in decline. A U.S. Census report1 released on September 24, 2014 indicated that community colleges and 2-year junior colleges experienced a 10 percent decline in enrollment from 2012 to 2013, while enrollment at four-year colleges grew slightly by 1 percent. Introduction 3 Figure 1: Students enrollment at different levels of college1 1 – News Release: College Enrollment Declines for Second Year in a Row, Census Bureau Reports. Available online at
  4. 4. Community colleges are responding to enrollment declines in a number of innovative ways. Many have added online coursework to expand their reach and make their classes more accessible to working adults. Others are looking to recruit some students from outside their traditional service area (such as international students), expanding relationships with 4-year institutions, or adding new program offerings. One area where community colleges lag other types of institutions is in the use of Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) systems. These systems, which help automate and systematize the recruiting and enrollment process, have seen explosive growth in use among traditional public and private 4-year institutions over the past several years and the majority of 4-year schools have implemented CRM systems. But use of CRMs at community colleges remains comparatively low, with some estimates of CRM usage at well under 50%. CRM Adoption in Community Colleges The declining enrollment rates referenced above have led the leadership at many community colleges to seriously consider bringing CRM technology to their institutions. CRM systems have a proven track record of helping to boost enrollment at 4-year institutions. Community colleges are seeking to benefit from CRM technology in the same ways that 4-year institutions have, including: • Creation of a comprehensive database of prospective students, with detailed histories of communication “touch points” with each prospect • Automated outreach processes that maximize the productivity of the institution’s enrollment staff • More efficient follow-ups on inquiries - and no more prospective students “falling between the cracks” • Arepositorywherestandardizedcommunication pieces can be created and managed centrally, and made available to enrollment staff communicating with prospective students • Access to detailed reporting and dashboards, to get a much higher level of insight into what’s working – and not working – in the enrollment process • Better communications within and between departments (enrollment, marketing, financial aid, etc.) • Overall improvement in the number and quality of students enrolling at the institution Need of CRM in Community Colleges 4
  5. 5. In an ideal scenario, CRM systems can facilitate communications well beyond the recruitment and enrollment cycles. Best-in-class systems now embody a “student lifecycle CRM” approach, where the system can facilitate communications and engagement with students from prospects through alumni. These student lifecycle CRM systems build on a single student database to manage relationships with: 5 Prospective Students Enrolled Students Graduated Students Enabling enrollment teams to maximize the size and quality of their entering classes Facilitating ongoing communications and engagement to maximize student success, retention and graduation rates Enabling community colleges to stay in contact with graduates, to facilitate fundraising, mentoring programs, internships, job opportunities, and other important connection points Figure 2: Student lifecycle
  6. 6. A review of the latest Enrollment CRM functionality currently in use at 4-year colleges and universities provides further insight into the reasons as to why these systems are getting more attention from community colleges. Features of Enrollment CRM systems can include: Key Features of Enrollment CRM 6 Centralized Database A single, searchable database of information and history of interactions with each prospective student Mobile Apps Mobile versions of the applications for both prospects and staff, to enable system functionality to be available via mobile phones and tablet devices Inquiry Management An automated system to record and assign incoming inquiries from prospective students based on factors such as school district, intended program / major, or identified “high priority” characteristics. Import Capability to import lists of students from multiple external sources Automated Workflows Automated communications workflows that facilitate ongoing communications with prospective students via email, text, social media, and direct mail. Keep Warm Hubs Ability to set reminders and ticklers for follow-up outreach Event Management Ability to manage recruiting events, including sending targeted invitations, tracking RSVP’s, tracking attendance, and collecting student feedback following the events Knowledge Library Creation of a repository of approved marketing documents, to ensure that counselors are sending out consistent, approved recruiting materials and re-use when required Student Enrollment CRM Dashboards Detailed reporting provided in intuitive, easy - to -understand dashboards and reports. Ideally, report formats and data can be customized on a departmental and individual basis. Reports can often be scheduled to be delivered to concerned stakeholders automatically via email on a specified day of the week or month Figure 3: Features of Student Enrollment CRM
  7. 7. As community colleges reach the point where they are ready to acquire a CRM system, a number of important considerations emerge: Additionally, the systems can benefit from the ability to build a CRM system for educational institutions “from the ground up”. This means that core structures can conform to the unique needs of schools. For instance, instead of data structures that address accounts, clients and contacts, student lifecycle CRM’s can be built around structures such as campus, department, area of study, academic term, and type of award (certificate, associates, bachelors, etc.) Integration with internal systems Another critical issue to consider is the requirement for integration of a CRM with existing institutional systems. If the CRM is considered purely for the Enrollment Management cycle, integration with existing institutional systems (the most critical of which is the school’s Student Information System (SIS)), is not as essential as it would be for the current student lifecyle (from class start to graduation). It is important to choose a CRM vendor who has a track-record of successful integrations with various SIS systems. As part of this process, school staff will want to carefully consider the integration points that will be required to get the most highly functional and streamlined CRM installation for their school. Colleges may also want to consider opportunities to integrate smaller systems at use at the school into the CRM. In many cases, providers of these systems will offer documented Application Programming Interfaces (API’s) that will make integration fairly straightforward. Top management commitment The impact of CRM on a community college can be dramatic and transformational. But educational institutions, perhaps more than most organizations, often face a great deal of internal inertia and resistance to change. For a CRM system implementation to be successful, it is imperative that there is buy-in at all levels. Without leadership support, the system will not get the visibility and resource investment required to ensure success. And without full supportatthestafflevel,theprocessimprovements offered by the CRM system could be greatly hindered. Commercial CRM vs. Education CRM Many colleges have implemented leading CRM systems from the commercial sector, with successful outcomes. They benefit from the wide commercial acceptance and broad usage of the systems. But the systems generally require a significant amount of enhancement to address the specific needs of a particular community college, leading to high customization and support costs. Additionally, these systems often are priced on “cost-per-seat” basis, so system costs will go up as usage within the institution grows. Alternatively, some vendors have developed CRM systems specifically for educational institutions. These systems can require less customization, with much of the functionality required by a college available “out of the box”. Considerations for Student CRM Investment 7
  8. 8. 8 Student Lifecycle CRM systems typically offer an integrated student database that allows a college to track student interactions from prospect to post-graduation. Even if an institution plans to implement these modules on a phased basis, it is wise to choose a CRM system that offers a full lifecycle growth path. Cost Faced with low tuition levels and diminishing state financial support, community colleges are invariably under tremendous budgetary pressure, and the idea of implementing a major new system may seem financially unrealistic. Fortunately, the cost of some CRM systems is coming down, and new, lower-cost systems with high functionality have become available. With the urgency to reverse downward enrollment trends, the investment in a CRM system is becoming more readily cost-justified for many colleges. Often times, CRM’s can pay for themselves in the form of enabling increased enrollments for an institution. And happily, many schools find that there are many manual processes in place that can easily be replaced by the CRM. A huge benefit of a CRM is the elimination of home-grown processes using spreadsheets, personal emails, or even handwritten documentation. Point solution vs. Student Lifecycle CRM There are a number of Student Success applications available to community colleges that provide useful functionality for addressing retention issues. But these applications are generally stand-alone in nature, and do not function as a component of a comprehensive CRM system. By contrast, some vendors offer a “Student Lifecycle CRM” that goes beyond recruiting and enrollment, and extends to support and engagement of currently enrolled and graduated students. For community colleges, the Student Success module for enrolled students often focuses on improving student retention, providing a number of mechanisms to communicate and engage with enrolled students. One popular function for enrolled students is an Early Warning System that identifies at-risk students while there is still time to effectively intervene. The Engagement module of a Student Lifecycle CRM system typically facilitates communications with students who are no longer at the school, whether they discontinued their studies, transferred to a 4-year program, or graduated and entered the workforce. The ability to maintain communications and engagement with these individuals can be beneficial for everything right from re-enrollment of students who dropped out to fundraising and job opportunities from successful alumni.
  9. 9. About ProRetentionTM ProRetentionTM is a student lifecycle CRM solution, creating meaningful engagement for the student from the time he is a prospect to graduation and beyond. ProRetentionTM eliminates uncertainties faced by universities and colleges in tracking, managing, touching and servicing prospects, students, and alumni. ProRetentionTM is a product of QuScient Technologies, a leading solution provider for higher education institutions. Email: Phone: +1 (347) 380-7697 ProRetentionTM is a product of ProRetention, Inc. An award-winning education solutions provider QuScient Technologies A group company of Summary 9 Declining enrollments are leading more and more community colleges to implement Constituent Relationship Management systems. With the availability of education-specific CRM’s and lower-cost solutions entering the market, the benefits seen by public and private 4-year colleges that have implemented CRM systems are becoming available to community colleges. Many schools are viewing the automation of the enrollment process through a CRM system as just the first step in creating a lifecycle approach to communicating and engaging with students.