As we head deep into the fall months and get ready for 2022, enrollment leaders still have several questions they are pondering:
- Are we generating enough completed applications to reach our goal?
- Is our digital strategy engaging the right students when they want to be engaged?
- Does our campus visit numbers indicate that we are making the right connections?
- Have our FAFSA filers of both incoming and returners fallen off the mark?
- Is our strongest academic program seeing a positive enrollment funnel?
These questions, and about 100 others, all lead to one word … enroll.
When you realize all the KPI’s you have measured, and the hours spent analyzing the micro and macro decisions that are made, there is a need to pause, take a breath and move forward. The key to a solid campaign is the ability to ascertain what is working, to expand on those tactics, and to pull back on the strategies that are not working. (This is when the use of strong predictive models for awarding financial aid and focusing on those students who are more likely to enroll become a tremendous asset.)
With that in mind, here are the final four C’s of Capture Higher Ed’s blog trilogy, 12 C’s for Enrollment Leaders, which center around “finishing.” (Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the series to read about the first eight C’s, which focus on identifying and converting prospective students through engagement.)
The key to enrollment growth and retention comes from collaboration with other offices on campus. We all know that retention starts in the Admissions Office — ensuring that admissions officers are enrolling the right students. This requires teamwork across campus … and starts with your search and digital strategy.
Using predictive analytics driven by machine learning allows you to grow current markets and find “look alike” markets to explore. The collaboration happens when digital marketing is supplemented with dynamic behavioral email and vice versa.
Enrollment leaders must also utilize common sense and good judgement when leading their teams. This really comes into play when things may not be going the way you want them to … or even when things are going so well you have a smile on your face.
Knowing when to spark the next movement of your counselors — or leverage a digital strategy that is going strong while downsizing another strategy — requires good common sense. To look at a plan objectively, enrollment leaders must have access to data and “call the play.”
That’s why having a partner like Capture, who is also assessing the data daily, can provide reassurance and a sounding board for new ideas.
When it comes to competency, enrollment leaders often can feel alone in the vacuum. There are not too many people on a college campus who truly understand what it’s like to sit in your chair. Admissions counselors last one-to-three years before they move on, and now we are seeing senior enrollment leaders retiring or moving on to other careers. It is important to surround yourself with the people and vendors you can trust. Buying more names is no longer a single competent strategy. I feel it is malpractice.
When every interaction counts, purchasing the right names, based upon real data, and providing those prospective students with authentic and dynamic digital content should be the new norm.
There is no time to stop when it comes to enrolling the next class. Whether you’re enrolling for the next eight-week term for an online course … or a grad program … or the next semester … there are always going to be crises to work through. Crisis from a lack of enrollment, budget loss and the loss of staff are just a few of those items that enrollment leaders must endure. It’s par for the course.
Having a strong digital partner can help make sure that students and their families are being serviced with necessary information and that “nudge” they need to continue on the enrollment path to your institution.
As we close the 12’Cs for Enrollment Leaders, I offer a few observations based on my more than two decades of work on campus:
- Enrollment management is both an art and a science. The use of a strong vendor partner that can help leverage data is now essential to your success.
- Enrollment leaders who really understand the notion, “make every connection count,” can electrify their enrollment funnels.
- You must meet students where they want to be met. Not all of them want email. Not all of them want a text. Find a way to identify, convert and enroll the right students for your institution.
By Christopher Harris, Ed.D., Senior Enrollment Strategist, Capture Higher Ed