Admissions Offices Dealing with the ‘Whirlwind of Fall’ Amid Staff Shortages

We are halfway through the fall semester and there are a myriad of things happening in university admissions offices. Counselors are on the road. Campuses are hosting tours. Open house and scholarship events are being planned and executed. Applications are being processed. Tele-counseling sessions are in full swing. Financial aid season is gearing up. And these are just some of the activities in the whirlwind of fall.

While these activities are normal for any campus, staff shortages resulting from COVID-19 have leaders reeling to get everything accomplished.

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Lindsay Ellis reinforced the strains being created by staff shortages and supply chain issues as campuses try to return to normal. A quick review of job websites shows a huge number of entry level, middle and executive management positions currently posted for the enrollment management field. During a time when enrollment is crucial to the success of most colleges and universities, unfilled positions in admissions, financial aid, registrar and student accounts not only undermine new student enrollment but also successful retention efforts.

Fall is about identifying and converting those students who would be a good fit for your campus. Using traditional travel, print and digital marketing, as well as campus visits, enrollment leaders hope to set the stage for a successful spring and summer to enroll the class in the fall of 2022.

Enrollment leaders work with their teams to make sure every Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is met or exceeded … and to change course if those KPIs are not being met. But for many, those KPIs have changed since COVID-19. What was once a “load the funnel” type of process has become more linear in its process with a laser focus on making every interaction meaningful.

The use of CRMs and the expansion of your campus’ digital assets have become a focus in delivering the right messages at the right time. But how do you do that when you are hiring new staff … and it’s October?

Extension of Your Admissions Office

Before coming to Capture Higher Ed this past summer, I worked on college campuses for 25 years. I have lived through these staff transitions. Not only is it uncomfortable, but it’s also hard to feel secure in day-to-day operations when short staffed. That’s why working with a vendor in many instances was extremely helpful. Vendors can bring automation, data analysis, and an environmental scan of the entire operation that helps ensure you are achieving your goals.

At Capture, our approach is to become an extension of your enrollment team. Our Behavioral Intelligence Platform and marketing solutions are part of our managed service for our partners. Each partner institution has an account executive who is a formally seated enrollment management leader. They understand your stressors. In addition, a project manager, a communication specialist, and a graphic designer are also added to the team to create and analyze your efforts every day. Our clients also have access to our data scientists, creative writers, and digital asset creative teams.

We all know that enrolling the right student to your campus is a major building block for a successful strategic enrollment plan. However, some of the complexities associated with real strategic enrollment thought and implementation are beyond what your campus can deliver daily. It is important to recognize where your strengths are and what you will need help in implementing.

The ever-changing digital recruitment and marketing segment is where most campuses fall short. That’s why it is so important to find a partner who has your campus’ best interest in mind.

Enrollment leaders are known for their ability to assess the current climate, adjust, and grind through the many speed bumps. However, as we look ahead to financial aid season while also building our transfer and graduate recruitment efforts, it is important that leaders take a deep breath and ensure they have all the tools to be successful. Budgets are not getting any bigger, so having a partner like Capture makes sense.

Build your team by adding experts who have the tools, the industry knowledge, and the data to help you achieve your goals.

By Christopher Harris, Ed.D., Senior Enrollment Strategist, Capture Higher Ed