Enrollment leaders have always faced adversity when it comes to enrolling the right students for their institutions every fall, spring and summer. Whether it’s from administration, faculty or staff, the pressure comes from different angles … and enrollment leadership is working increasingly within an environment in which it’s difficult to meet expectations.
The need for enrollment leaders to find authentic, cost effective and efficient ways to identify, convert and enroll students — all year long — has never been more important to the long-term health of your institutions.
I’ve made a conscious decision to no longer use the term “enrollment manager” and, instead, use “enrollment leader.” It takes true leaders to accomplish the goals you are being asked to achieve. The very nature of higher education was changing before the pandemic, but it has now been tossed on its head. As budgets and staffing levels decrease, the goal at most of the institutions I speak with regularly remains: “grow enrollment.”
Now more than ever, leadership is paramount to success!
While recently revisiting the 2007 book Where Have All the Leaders Gone? by renowned automotive executive Lee Iacocca, I was reminded that leadership is not just one thing. Iacocca speaks of the “9 C’s of Leadership.” Over the next three blogs, I have adapted the “9 C’s” (and added a few more of my own) to what enrollment leaders should be thinking about as they help their teams navigate this turbulent time.
Each blog will reflect Capture’s mission to help Identify, Convert and Enroll the right students. The first four C’s center on how you can Identify through engagement. They are:
Each campus has its very own character. What makes your campus qualities distinctive and standout in the marketplace? No longer can you get away with “small class sizes” and “the people” are what makes your campus distinctive.
Gen Z students are looking for specific qualities that match their own. It is imperative that the messaging and interactions you provide on your website match your email messaging. In addition, your digital marketing and social media presence should match how your staff interacts in person or on the phone with prospective students.
Consistent messaging and the ability to provide dynamic content when the prospective student is interacting with your digital assets will only help convey your character.
Being creative in this hyper-active enrollment marketing environment is a key to a successful recruitment cycle. Good enrollment leaders understand the need to find balance between providing information and providing an experience for those who are interacting with their digital assets.
The creation of quality content, whether on the website or on a social media platform, is what good leaders strive for. Creating content for the sake of creating content is not enough. You must have the ability to identify those KPI’s and measure them when you have a good story to tell?
Enrollment leaders are naturally curious about what the next enrollment cycle will bring. Questions about funnel KPI’s, next year’s budget, how to get a leg up on Search, the engagement of next year’s class, etc. are just some of these constant “curiosities.” You must live in the data … trying to find those nuances and trends.
One of the hardest things to measure is how well your digital assets (website, digital marketing and email) are all working together. It’s not about clicks or click throughs. It’s about the level of interaction each prospective student has with your dynamic content. Having access to all that data 24-7 can inform not only your strategy, but it also can drive what your counselors do daily as well.
Campus Visit Experience
The phrase “campus visit experience” has taken on new meaning since the pandemic began more than 20 months ago. What once was a series of robust individual and group on-campus visits has morphed into a combination of select on-campus experiences coupled with digital events and supportive programming. This has provided an opportunity to engage more stakeholders in the “campus visit experience.”
The use of campus influencers such as key faculty and students can help drive interactions with prospective students in whatever medium they engage. Again, measuring goes beyond likes and shares. Do you measure if that interaction resulted in an application … or even an enrollment?
The ability to identify prospective students and measure their interactions with your digital assets is just one key to a successful recruitment plan. How a campus engages with prospective students (and their interests) early in the process is key to enrolling the right student for your campus. Capture Higher Ed’s industry-leading Behavioral Intelligence Platform provides enrollment leaders the necessary data to make real-time decisions. Our enrollment experts, data scientists, marketers and content creators provide this managed service to our clients.
Please check back next week with Part 2 of this blog series when I will discuss converting prospective students to applications through the next four C’s: Courage, Communication, Conviction and Charisma. Until then, don’t forget the basics, develop the advancements, and know your leadership is more important now than ever.
By Christopher Harris, Ed.D., Senior Enrollment Strategist, Capture Higher Ed