It is an evolving climate in higher education. At conferences, in news articles, baked into national student data and in new Department of Education regulations, everyone serving a college or university can feel the pressure. Anxiety exists with the increasing urgency of the so-called looming, “enrollment cliff,” and the urgency for post-secondary schools to not only assure compliance, but to empower potential students throughout the enrollment process.
Of course, all institutions have various admissions requirements and processes. But today, more than any time in history, it is critical for any college or university to maintain continual communication and collaboration between marketing and admissions and to maintain a focus on compliance.
What does it really mean to empower student prospects?
Simply put, rather than having a student participate in a traditional “sales process” or institutional driven thought processes, schools have learned to ask questions focused on the lives, interests, and goals of students. Active listening and focus on what is best for the student has become an essential approach. What a concept, right? The goal is to allow students to walk down a path whereby they are better informed and empowered to make a sound decision about their future school and/or career. Administrators today must understand that we never want a student to feel pressured to apply to their educational institution.
The goal is to allow students to walk down a path whereby, they are better informed and empowered to make a sound decision about their future school and/or career.
While this may seem like an obvious approach, that has not always been the case. For many, the feeling was that they had to sell features and benefits. Often, the style was to talk “at the student” with an overwhelming amount of pride and information about the campus, its programs and faculty. The competition has always been fierce for new students and hence, there is always the natural urge to pressure a prospect to apply and enroll.
There has been a healthy shift in the approach, and it is refreshing albeit a challenging shift for some not as open minded. For institutions who value the student first, we often see that there can be benefits down the road. By enrolling a more confident, focused and engaged student, we can naturally predict a higher propensity of student matriculation to graduation. In a world with a smaller student prospect pool and so much focus on compliance along with student retention, empowering students respectfully through the enrollment process seems to be a positive development in an ever-changing industry.
By enrolling a more confident, focused and engaged student, we can naturally predict a higher propensity of student matriculation to graduation.
No one loves to be sold in like they are buying a used car. People long to be respected, they love to be heard and most people want to make their own informed choices about their own life and future. Most higher education consultants and professionals will tell colleges and universities today to be sure to carefully measure and manage marketing campaigns with a keen eye toward compliance and tone. Further, it is advisable to implement structured admissions processes that are streamlined and built to empower and serve our future students. Continual admissions training and oversight obviously will maintain quality control and efficiency in the longer term.
A focus on compliance
Today, all staff and faculty of an institution must have a high regard for compliance from start to finish and, in the end, must put students first. Institutions, more than ever, must perform and show the value they profess. For those who do not, the data does not show favorable outcomes. We continue to see more college and university closures nationally, all in a time when the Department of Education has only increased its expectations and oversight.
It was recently announced that the Department of Education would be mystery shopping all colleges & universities to evaluate performance. I suppose, it is that adage, “change or die.” The current enrollment climate is such, where we have less prospects to choose from nationally and we have a generation more skeptical not only about college, but about student debt as well. The best higher education leaders today are innovative, nimble and in the end, are learning to support and empower student prospects!
We are operating in a dynamic and competitive environment. Approach it with an open mind, stay nimble and remember, Advance 360 Education is here to help.