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The Art and Science of Search

The Art and Science of Search

Have you seen the new Star Wars movie? Chances are you have. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story recently crossed the $800 million mark at the global box office. While still attracting Skywalker-like popularity, the Gareth Edwards-directed spin-off is not your typical Star Wars story. It’s less a Buck Rogers-like space opera, much more a Dirty Dozen-like war flick involving a rag-tag group of rebels off on an impossible mission.

Movies with military themes always seem to get me. Maybe it’s just because I am a guy and all the guns and explosions hold my interest. But I don’t think so. I am more inclined to think it’s because there are always some overarching strategies and tactical advantages to be achieved. In the world of higher education enrollment management, there is little difference.

Consider the number of tools that are being used during the average enrollment cycle at the average institution. There are a smattering of direct mail items, travel, personal interviews and phone interaction, e-mail, texting, IP targeting and on and on and on. As is the case with the military (through the ages), if you use the right weapon on the wrong audience, there are always adverse reactions and (I hate this term) collateral damage.

Determining the right market for our partners is one of my greatest joys … and can prove to also be the greatest challenge. Our team of data scientists along with the practitioners that are part of the Advisory Services team at Capture Higher Ed work directly with a school to not only discover and develop markets that may be untapped, but we also help our partner college and universities explore other compatible markets that might be needed to shore up and/or sufficiently grow the incoming class.

In high school, my math teacher would have agreed that I am not great with permutations (he said I didn’t apply myself), but when I got into higher ed, that seemed to change. Within the numerous options that are available for student search, there are literally hundreds of thousands of combinations that can be optimized to help an institution find particular students.

Capture’s Advisory Services team, along with our Data Scientists, do some serious ‘geeking out’ when it comes to putting together data and ideas for how to find and foster markets for our partners. By leveraging technology, history and practical experience, our teams can efficiently drill into markets that are required to grow and maintain class sizes. We are data and technology junkies … so as markets and tools change, we think “in front” so as to determine the best tools (including the tried and true tools that history has taught us to use) to help our partners achieve maximum success.

Some individuals maintain that new technology will always replace that which has been historically successful. This is evidenced by the multitude of trends that come and go in higher ed. I tend to challenge this premise (at least, to a degree).

Heading back to my extended metaphor, the military has certainly not ceased from using the historically successful as the new and shiny has become available. The same is true in enrollment management. Our task is to add to what works with other tools that also work. In doing so, we improve the breadth and depths — and the results — of the search.

By Jamie Gleason, Senior Enrollment Advisor, Capture Higher Ed