This is a tough time for enrollment managers. But we have been saying that for years. I believe there are many opportunities to enroll the number of students you need with the academic profile and the financial ability you require. So whether you are responsible for your school’s domestic or international strategic enrollment management plans, I suggest you review your current plans and consider adding new dimensions to these plans.
My suggestions will result in more work at the beginning of the admission process for the directors of financial aid, career counseling and alumni affairs. These suggestions will change your print publications and social media outreach program. My suggestions mean creating a specific, year-long communication plan for parents that focuses on financing an education at your school, outlining how students can graduate in four years, not five or six, and the return on the investment at graduation.
- Spend the months of June and July re-writing your enrollment plan and add to your enrollment management team the following: director of retention, staff from the career counseling center, director of alumni affairs and a representative from the business community.
- Instead of focusing only on discount rates, I would work with the director of financial aid to create a program that would allow families to learn, before application and enrollment, if they can afford to attend your school. (Yes this means Saturday and evening meetings but compensation time is still an attractive option for employees.) This suggestion can result in the financial aid office staff processing fewer applications, but more realistic ones. In the long run, this may mean less work for the financial aid office staff, not more.
- Before you press the delete button because of this suggestion, ask yourself: Is it better to get applications from 100 prospective students who know they can afford your school or would you rather get applications from 300 who play “let’s make a deal” after acceptance?
- Another suggestion is to give information to parents and prospective students information from the career counseling staff on their one, two, three or four year program to help students get a job after graduation. I am not suggesting that your school is responsible for finding every graduate a job. But I am suggesting that your enrollment management plan should include career counseling information. I believe this information should be part of your print and social media outreach and should be given early in the application cycle.
- Again you may be tempted to press the delete button but before you do so, ask yourself: Would parents rather receive a view book that they did not request or information on how your school will help their child get a job at graduation?
This article orginally published to the MJDennis Consulting Blog.