How to Secure Your Incoming Class: A Capture Checklist

You have completed the search, application, and acceptance process. Now it’s time to focus on enrolling those students who will make this year’s incoming class your best yet! As we know, deposits are nice … but they are no longer the only marker you can (or should) use to ensure that the student is ready to join you in August.

In fact, many institutions have added a layer to their enrollment cycle called “cleared to enroll.” In this case, “clearance” means the student has not only paid their deposit, but they have done everything else necessary to finish their enrollment process. Continuous messaging around your value propositions to students and their influencers is your key to clearance and success at this time of year.

Divided into five buckets — Admissions, Student Financial Services, Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, and Marketing and Communications — this Capture Checklist is a good starting point you can use to ensure your students are ready for the fall!

Bucket No. 1 – Admissions

  • Gather Final Transcripts: Academic Advisors need to know the academic backgrounds of students to make sound suggestions for scheduling and placement. Getting final high school and all college transcripts is an important step.
  • Coordinate Welcome Messaging: Do you have messages from your president, academic affairs personnel, and influential alumni welcoming the new students to the campus?
  • Thank School Counselors: Communicate with school counseling staff to thank them for helping their high school students navigate the application and college selection process. While you’re at it, ask about any students who might be late to the admission process.
  • Promote Campus Visits: Encourage accepted students to make campus visits and offer online video conferences to continue to build affinity.

Bucket No. 2 – Student Financial Services

  • Survey Award Status: Identify those who have and those who do not have financial aid awards. Do you have their ISIR yet?
  • Determine What’s Missing: Discover if the student needs to provide additional verification paperwork. What is the process for gathering that important information?
  • Confirm Student Award Acceptance: Assess if the student has accepted their awards and performed entrance counseling that may be necessary for distribution of certain types of aid.
  • Examine Student’s Financial Plan: Identify how the student plans to pay for any costs incurred after financial aid is awarded. Do you have a payment plan on file?

Bucket No. 3 – Student Affairs

  • Organize Room and Board: Execute student housing and student meal plan contracts.
  • Get Ready for Orientation: Coordinate and host New Student Orientation program. Welcome them to the family!
  • Promote Campus Culture: Develop communications from the student body president, clubs, and other campus organizations that enhance the student experience.
  • Survey Incoming Students: Prepare a student survey to learn more about likes, dislikes, expectations, and opinions on a variety of topics to help with the development of programming.

Bucket No. 4 – Academic Affairs

  • Prepare Faculty: Assign academic advisors early to ensure lines of communication are opened prior to arrival in the fall.
  • Register Students: Register all incoming students into courses they will need to be successful in their first semester.
  • Welcome and Set Expectations: Coordinate lead faculty communications with incoming students to help set academic expectations and welcome them to campus.

Bucket No. 5 – Marketing and Communications

  • Update Website: Ensure your website is updated regularly with new images, dates of special events, and new features of the campus.
  • Prepare Social Media: Coordinate all social media communications to provide timely, relevant information to incoming families. They are watching and interacting!
  • Celebrate Alumni: Feature recent as well as “seasoned” alumni as success stories. Everyone loves outcomes!

THE KEY TAKEAWAY: You must continue to communicate how you value the student’s choice to enroll at your institution. Show them how they will be welcomed. Show them how they will thrive on your campus.

Any good to-do or checklist should stay in your line of sight. Need a designed copy of the “How to Secure Your Incoming Class” Capture Checklist for referencing or sharing with colleagues?

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