Will your school be a success?
Schools that do well in their enrollment results this year will have done three things:
- Counted everything and tracked everybody
The school used a set of metrics that kept the program on track. The metrics were used to find opportunities to improve the performance.
- Shown Value
The school’s admissions office will have worked hard to insure that students understand the academic and student success agendas for the school. The students will see and feel how they fit with the school.
- Acted with agility
The admissions office, in partnership with the rest of the campus, were able to act quickly as students came into the school and started classes. The students found what they were promised.
If you are not already doing these 3 things, here are 4 suggestions to get you going in the right direction:
Step #1: Count Everything
At this point, there are two things to look at. First how are you positioned with ‘inquiries’ and ‘accepts’ to take in the enrollment you need? And how are you positioned with ‘confirms’ to have the number of students you need for the fall?
Of course, you can never be certain of the students, but you can have an estimate through the conversion and build in a little extra padding just in case you were wrong.
And, you do not have to address all of the potential students.
There are students who will come no matter what you do. You just have to be careful not to cause those students to become unhappy. There are also students who will not come no matter what you do. Pull them out of your communication flow. Keep them for analysis in the future. Now you can work with the people who really may respond to your message.
And what is the message?
Step #2: Communicate Your Value. The school must have value for the student.
The student and his/her influentials need to be convinced that your institution has value– that your institute is held in high regard and is useful for the student in reaching his or her goals. The student and parents must be convinced that you have the programs and faculty that will help them achieve their goals. You will need to address career goals and their goals for a lifestyle that they want to lead or perceive they want to lead while in school.
Want to know more about how to communicate your school’s value?
Check out Blog post 21.
Step #3: Act with Agility
If you have been keeping data, and have done some listening sessions, you know what students want and can do the data analysis to verify this for each of the potential students. You are also in a position of using social media to put prospective students in contact with you and with each other.
The actions you can take vary, but you need to shoot for as much personal contact as you can. This can include:
- Make phone contacts by regional reps or recruiters, present students, faculty, etc.
- Ensure that financial aid is in process and what is going to happen with their aid. You will note that we have not said much about aid. It is very important but should not be the main reason a student selects a school.
- Use social media to send messages to and between several students at one time.
- Have meetings in various locations which could be attended by alumni or others to talk to the student.
- Make certain the student and influentials have visited the campus.
By the way, social media use may be great for those students who are going to come no matter what you do.
Step #4: Putting it all together
You may want to look at the use of stories in your program as a way to think through the best way to connect potential students with your school. For example:
Caitlin was taking an on-line course and was a new freshman. She was not doing very much on line and they were in their second week of the course.
The professor could generate daily reports and he was now concerned about Caitlin. He tried to contact her by sending a note and trying to see if she would respond on line. After no response, he decided to call her and at the same time see of student affairs had any insights. Perhaps they had contact with her. They did not know who she was. The student affairs office really only worked with the student who was in trouble and so far, this student was not on their agenda.
Caitlin did respond to student affairs and they and the instructor asked for her to come down to the student center and talk with her. In the meantime, they went over her information from enrollment management and the class she was taking and asked her what how she felt about what she was doing. Caitlin was a first term freshmen, was taking a full load, and it included an on-line course. She had never taken an on-line course and was not all that familiar with the software used in distance education.
In this case, the faculty at the school were encouraged by their leadership and their school culture and practices to reach to students early and determine if they were doing well or had issues that should be addressed. In this actual case, Caitlin was helped to avoid a bad term and, perhaps, a loss of interest altogether in education.
Questions to take your enrollment results to the next level:
- What stories do you have to tell about how your students are taken care of once they are admitted?
- What do these stories tell about how you relate to students?
- What do these stories tell about the value of your school to prospects?
- Can you turn your stories into messages to help your ‘undecideds’ convert to ‘enrolls’?
Share your stories with us. We’d love to hear about your successes with this approach!
Copyright ©2013 Drs Ron & Dori Ingersoll and EMAS Pro
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