A few states have contemplated making the FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, mandatory. Texas will become the second state to require high school seniors to complete and submit the Federal Application for the 2020-21 academic year. Texas hopes to mirror Louisiana’s success, which saw that state’s FAFSA completion rate by high school students rise by more than 25 percent. According to NCAN, Louisiana ranks number one among all states this financial aid cycle with an application completion rate of 78.7%, compared to Texas ranking 31st with an application completion rate of 55.5%.
High quality wireless internet access is expected by students who step on to campus with their smartphones, laptops and tablets. With three-fourths of colleges offering WiFi access on 81% or more of their campus, that is a 17% increase from just three years ago. Universities are working to manage students’ and faculties’ “insatiable appetites” for wireless bandwidth. In an effort to keep up with growing demand for the latest in technology, a growing number of universities are outsourcing their wireless network infrastructure needs as well as increasing their IT budgets.
Working while enrolled in a university can be risky. A Georgetown study found students who worked while enrolled in university had lower grades and were more likely to drop out. This risk increased for low income students. The standard advice given to many college students is to work no more than 15 hours a week in order to balance the responsibilities that come with the territory of being a student. But a new study from a Rutgers research center found that students who work in college earn higher salaries after they graduate. Research on past students has often relied on students’ academic records as a measure of success, but one researcher decided to look into student employment records reporting wage and employment information during the students’ time at university and after college. They found that, “the more that students worked in college, the more they subsequently earned in the labor force.”
How much should students take into account a university’s business school ranking? Choosing where to earn a master’s degree is an important decision with many factors to consider. Often, reputation and image are the number one determinants students use to choose where they will commit. It is important to recognize that every ranking system — including those published by BusinessWeek, U.S. News & World Report, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist and the Financial Times — is imperfect and each may rank various attributes differently. In addition, some have changed their methodologies throughout the years, making year-by-year comparisons difficult.
Applicants to post-baccalaureate programs are looking for an opportunity to enhance their academic credentials in order to continue pursuing a career in health care or medicine.
To attract the best of those students — and to help transform departmental operations at their institutions — today’s postbac admissions professionals need to improve their own outlook as well. How? By embracing pioneering new marketing strategies that lead to better results through less work.
Just ask those who are already doing it. Cassidy Chambers, assistant director of admissions at Rocky Vista University, and Courtney Klipp, health professions advisor at Loyola Marymount University, recently participated in a Liaison webinar to talk about the improvements they made to recruitment and marketing initiatives at their programs. They spoke about what needed to change, how they implemented change and the benefits that followed.
“When I took over our Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences program, we were still managing paper files,” Chambers said. “That was not going to work. Everything was done in house and it just took a lot of staff time, whether it was tracking documents by hand or contacting applicants when things were missing. I was also working to standardize GPAs for all of our applicants before the faculty review. It was hours and hours of work, and we knew that was not sustainable. That’s why we started looking for some kind of application service to help us.”
Chambers and her colleagues at Rocky Vista discovered that PostBacCASTM — Liaison’s Centralized Application Service (CAS) for postbac programs — was a natural fit.
Klipp and her peers arrived at a similar conclusion after looking for ways to improve the recruiting and application experience at Loyola Marymount.
“Our preprocess was not great,” Klipp says. “We were using a survey program, not an admissions program. On more than one occasion, we decided to open up applications again for late applicants, and we actually lost applications. This was a complete deal breaker for me. That’s just not acceptable.
“In addition to that, we were also using a paper system,” Klipp continues. “That’s obviously very cumbersome. Our admin was spending hours putting all the details in an Excel document. We also had some issues with our mail system. Transcripts and letters of recommendations weren’t always going to the right office because the people who were looking at applications were in different buildings. It always seemed to be the case that if I was looking for a file, it was in someone else’s office, which is three buildings over. And we faced challenges calculating GPAs, too.”
Convinced they needed something else, Loyola Marymount also implemented PostBacCAS.
A New (Better) Way to Do Things
“I’m happy to say all of those issues are resolved now,” Klipp adds. “We estimate that implementing PostBacCAS saved our admin about 90 hours of work. In addition, one of my favorite features is that the system automatically provides multiple GPA calculations. There are BCPMs [biology, chemistry, physics and math grades], cumulative GPAs across multiple schools, GPAs for non-science courses, graduate work and postbac work. It’s just amazing that I can see all of that in one place. PostBacCAS has made this application season so much better.”
Chambers shares Klipp’s enthusiasm for PostBacCAS. She also points out that it has helped attract a more diverse pool of applicants to Rocky Vista: “We’ve definitely seen a greater diversity in the kinds of applicants we’re getting,” she says. “We’re starting to see more applicants from all over the place. Even if they’re not looking for Rocky Vista specifically, when people see us on the PostBacCAS website they can dig in for more information and decide we might be a good fit. That’s been great to see. PostBacCAS been very easy to use and has freed up a lot of time. It’s just been a great transition for us overall.”
When preparing for a new job, college is only a part of the equation
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is slowly creeping into everyday lives and the impact on American jobs is a regular topic of discussion. A recent survey of American adults showed that less than a quarter (22%) of them agree that colleges are preparing students “for future jobs involving technology.” These adults shared that on-the-job training, as well as in-person programs, were their preferred method of education if they have to retrain due to AI taking over their jobs. Of those surveyed, lack of time and cost of education were the top barriers to education. Purdue University and Arizona State University both have programs to partner with corporations to offer training to their employees.
The Government Accountability Office found about 2 million students who may be eligible for food aid from the federal government have not received any benefits, specifically 11% of households with a four-year college student and 17% of households with a community college student. In 2018, the California State University system conducted their own survey and discovered that almost half (42%) of the students were food insecure and 11% were homeless. California’s budget proposal includes money to help the CSU system help students with their basic needs to the tune of $15 million. Community colleges are not included in this proposal, though a separate bill required each campus to make their parking lots safe enough for homeless students to sleep in their cars. New Jersey also passed a law in May to give $1 million in support of college students who are food insecure.
Even though women now earn the majority of Ph.Ds., they are still in the minority of higher education leadership. As far as college presidents, only 30% are women, and with the inclusion of the 36% of women leading two-year colleges, the first statistic is slightly inflated. Some surveys show a better representation of women in the C-suite, but it’s still less than half of chief advisors and an even lower percentage of deans. Female leadership helps make a stronger connection with women on campus. The California State University system has made great strides in bringing more women to leadership roles. Just seven years ago, three of the 23 presidents were women; today there are 12.
Colleges are on a mission to justify the cost of tuition, and private colleges are finding this even more difficult. The high cost of private colleges, though often offset by tuition discounts, is posing challenges and several are closing. But what smaller, private colleges can offer are lower student-teacher ratios and often more picturesque campuses, though the higher tuition and low enrollments are causing internal strife. Even the free-college proposals leave out private colleges, drawing students to public colleges and leaving private colleges with a seemingly uphill battle to prove their place and return on investment.
Liaison and NAGAP, the Association for Graduate Enrollment Management, today announced that the final opportunity to apply for the upcoming Liaison-sponsored NAGAP Leadership Academy — and to apply for a Fellowship that will cover the cost of attendance — has been extended to August 1.
The NAGAP Leadership Academy offers graduate enrollment management (GEM) professionals an intensive leadership development experience that includes cohesive, experiential training which integrates GEM-focused education with experience, feedback and coaching. These elements complement and extend the participants’ learning beyond the facilitated classroom sessions so they can immediately apply lessons learned on their campuses.
“Our hands-on, six-month Academy will provide participants with contemporary and practical leadership insights and tools,” said James Crane, past president at NAGAP. “GEM professionals who attend will hone the skills necessary to achieve their strategic goals. Liaison was a clear choice for sponsor of the program because of its long-proven dedication to streamlining higher education admissions.”
The NAGAP Leadership Academy is a multi-component, six-month program book-ended by two in-person seminars in New York City. Its curriculum also includes monthly webinars, online leadership assessments and a capstone project designed to foster the GEM-leadership development journey. Upon completion, participants will be able to immediately apply lessons learned in the classroom to their most important on-campus initiatives.
The initial three-day seminar (October 16-18, 2019) will provide the foundation for the six-month program. Debra A. Noumair, professor of Psychology and Education and director, executive education programs in change & consultation and executive masters program in change leadership (XMA) at Teachers College, Columbia University, will provide the opening address. Subsequent panel and classroom sessions will focus on GEM-specific leadership topics, including:
“Test-Only” idea shows the problem with standardized testing
More and more colleges and universities are moving towards holistic admissions, and some are making tests like the SAT, GMAT and GREs optional. But when researchers studied the effects of making standardized test scores the sole measurement in the admissions process, exactly no one was surprised. Less diversity in top tier schools, where white students would make up 75% of the population — compared to 66% currently — and two-thirds of the student body would come from families with an annual income of at least $122,000. Test-only admissions would lead to a majority white, aristocratic student body, which is why holistic admissions, with standardized tests playing a part in decisions, is becoming so popular.
The number of high school graduates seeking college education has resulted in students looking outside the state for admittance. In 2016, 40,000 first-time college students enrolled in institutions outside of California, which makes other colleges pay attention. There are almost 2.9 million fewer college students across the country this year than there were in the Fall of 2011. High school graduates in the state have increased by just 5% in the last eight years, but the number of students who are completing college-prep courses increased by 32%. The top 9% of graduates across California are supposed to be guaranteed admission at one of the University of California campuses, but it’s now on a space available basis.
A new award, the “Seal of Excelencia,” has been developed and awarded to nine higher education institutions for their work in improving outcomes for Latino students on their campuses. The efforts of these institutions were measured by looking at their financial support operations, their enrollment, retention and graduation of Latino students and their representation of Latinos in administration, faculty and staff. Almost 18 million Hispanic students were enrolled in 2016, making up 19.1% of students in 1996. But Hispanic students frequently lag in college graduation rates. Only 15% of those aged 25 to 29 have a bachelor’s degree, while 22% of black and 41% of white students of the same age group hold a bachelor’s degree. The universities awarded the seal include El Paso Community College, Grand Valle State University in Michigan and Florida International University.
Each year graduates question the return on their investment when considering their student loan debt and searching for a job. MBA graduates from the class of 2018 were surveyed and about 40% of those who attended top schools say they have debt that adds up to at least $100,000. Accompanying this data from Bloomberg Businessweek is data from SoFi, who reports that the University of Wisconsin School of Business has the best ROI at 2.3x, meaning the average salary is equal to 2.3 times the average student debt.
Summer is a glorious time for an undergraduate admissions staff. The sun is shining. The campus is quiet. It’s time to use some of those hard-earned vacation days. But wait, you begin noticing the dreaded “CANCELLED” status next to students who were recently “ENROLLED.” Summer melt begins to plague your favorite season.
Worry not, admissions pro! Here are eight ways for you to maintain those enrollment numbers so that you can spend your vacation stress-free.
1. Remind them about important dates
We have recently worked with clients that sent out personalized calendars listing all of the most important dates from June through the first semester. We have also set up automated email campaigns, postcard campaigns, social media messaging and voicemail reminders for students and their parents. When setting up an email with a date and time of an event, make the content easy for the student to store on his or her phone.
How can you do this? List out the entire date, time and name of the event. Most smartphones will automatically save this content in the calendar upon the tap of a link.
2. Send them a gift for registering
You probably know by now which of your enrolled students are proactive and which ones may require that extra push. Many institutions have a required first-year and transfer orientation program so that students can learn how to access their college portal, receive their student ID cards, meet the academic advisors and create a small network of potential friends for the first day of class. Incentivize them to sign up for orientation by providing useful swag that won’t destroy your marketing budget for the following year. We have seen clients send home quality notepads, hats, socks, cell-phone cases, lanyards and so on. Whether or not the student thinks the swag is awesome or useless is irrelevant. The point is that the free gift may have been the driving force behind them finally registering. Who doesn’t like free stuff?
3. Offer visit dates that are specific to first-year, first-generation students
Based on statistics, the majority of students who “melt” are first-generation students. Their family has no prior knowledge of the college enrollment process. There may be a language barrier, financial hardship and ignorance of student support services. While having a bi-lingual admissions representative is extremely helpful in this circumstance, it is equally as important to build a relationship with these families. This will ensure they are comfortable and confident that they made the right choice for their son or daughter. Offer exclusive summer events that attract these families to campus. Sometimes just realizing that there are other incoming families with similar concerns will make all the difference.
4. Have your orientation leaders take over the social media pages
Before the critical orientation program, most orientation leaders will require proper training so that incoming first-year students have the best experience possible. While these leaders are putting together packets, learning how to give guided group tours, creating fun breakout sessions, and developing their icebreaking abilities, they will likely have a lot of down time. Get them behind your social media posts! Not only will this create more content for your social media channels during the dry season of summer, but it will also help incoming students get to know their orientation leaders before they arrive to campus for the event.
5. Avoid sending home overwhelming to-do lists
Chances are a lot of your incoming families are already feeling anxious about the transition from high school to college. The more tasks and homework you give, the less likely they are to complete it. While it is okay to send one, maybe two emails with a full list, break down the to-dos with dates and achievable steps so that they don’t feel overworked the summer before college. And at the bottom of each email, be sure to add a personal contact so that they know who to ask for help.
6. Highlight move-in days, orientation and first week of freshmen year
Use student testimonials, social media posts, videos, stories and images to show the exciting college transition. Students connect with authenticity, so a simple video shot with an iPhone from a past student might be exactly what they want to see. If possible, begin a “where are they now” campaign to show what current sophomores, juniors and seniors are doing years after their first days of class.
7. Focus on more than just the good times
Acknowledge that your incoming students and their families might also be having a hard time. As marketers, we always try to explain the benefits of a product or solution, but with college enrollment marketing, it is also important to show compassion and care. There is a reason that employees are called “admissions counselors,” not “colleges salesmen.” College is about social, emotion, professional and spiritual growth — so make an effort to talk through the difficult topics with your prospective families.
8. Reach out AFTER Day 1
There is an unspoken hand-off once students officially begin their college careers. They go from prospective students working with the admissions team, to enrolled students working with academic advisors, resident assistants, professors, athletic coaches and extracurricular activity coordinators. This does not mean you have to ignore them once they are on campus. Send a few emails in those first few weeks to check up on them. See how class is going. Offer support. Remind them where the Admissions Office is located. While they may already be “too cool for school” and ignore you, at least you gave it a shot.
There is no real science to summer melt, but with most things, if you put in the extra effort, you will yield better outcomes.
About ten years ago, Rochester Institute of Technology was made aware of the requests their autistic students had. Since then, RIT has launched a program just for them. With a two-year, $200,000 National Science Foundation grant in 2008 – RIT was able to provide weekly coaching for students with autism. The first year they had 10-12 students, and this year they had about 86. There are about 50 similar programs around the country, including Western Kentucky University and Marshall University.
Diversity still a focus for Harvard Business School
Diversity remains a hot topic when looking at student and faculty in higher education. Harvard Business School has done better with students than faculty, as 26% of the class of 2020 are ethnic minorities. But only nine of the 270 faculty members are African-American. But this is a known issue and is being addressed internally through programs like the HBS Forward Fellowship and a summer program for undergraduate minority students. And this fall, four of the 25 new professors hired are African-American.
Students are encouraged to pursue their higher education in areas they enjoy. A common phrase used is “do what you love,” but Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business has discovered some downfalls to this. The research team conducted eight separate studies, which included over 2,400 participants. The conclusion? Passion for work is important and can be beneficial, but it can also lead to exploitation by employers. Employees who are passionate tend to do more work, including working on weekends or doing tasks unrelated to their jobs – without extra pay.
The University of Alabama decided to return a donor gift totaling $21.5 million and remove the donor’s name from their law school. Hugh Culverhouse Jr. encouraged students to pursue other educational options in response to the recent change in Alabama’s abortion law. The university said their decision had nothing to do with Culverhouse’s statement but instead with his involvement with the law school. This isn’t the first time a donor’s relationships or political ties have caused problems. A Saint Louis University donor was involved with recommending faculty and dictating the use of research funds and George Mason University was the subject of litigation regarding a relationship with the Koch brothers. Donors are incredibly important to colleges and universities with decreasing state funding and enrollment projections.
It’s no secret. International enrollment in the United States has declined over the past few years. While America is still the hottest destination for graduate and undergraduate students from other countries, the number of students enrolling for the first time experienced a 6.6% drop in the fall of 2017 alone, according to the Institute of International Education’s 2018 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange.
Those behind the study downplay the role of political agendas and policy change and point their fingers at the rising cost of education in the U.S. and stronger competition from universities in other countries. Regardless of the defining reason behind the decline, international recruiters and admissions representatives throughout the country are looking for the most competitive, cost-effective way to attract future international students.
Introducing the HigherYield solution
Brought to you by Educational Testing Service (ETS) and our Enrollment Marketing Platform (EMP), the collaboration of these companies makes perfect sense as both are in the business of helping admissions offices enroll more students with fewer resources. International recruitment at the undergraduate and graduate level has never been considered easy, but in our current climate, it is more difficult than ever.
The HigherYield solution recognizes that although universities in Canada, Japan, Spain and China have seen gains in overall enrollment, the U.S. is still home to the biggest, best and most successful marketing companies in the world. Your institution has the opportunity to prove it, one campaign at a time.
Let’s start with the basics. Immediacy is key. According to the 2017 Aslanian Market Research Study of Online College Students, 61% of students enrolled at the institution that contacted them first. Before you can respond with immediacy, you need to attract an international population seeking the degree and experience your institution offers. This is where ETS comes in.
The GRE® Search Service and TOEFL® Search Service allow institutions to tap into a worldwide database and cost effectively reach prospective applicants who have demonstrated graduate-level readiness. Rather than relying on admissions representatives to recruit an international population on their own, these services focus on specific prospects and let you narrow your list with more than 30 search criteria.
Once you have the names, what’s next? So many international admissions offices allow their qualified prospects to collect dust as they sit in an Excel document for days, weeks or even months. Remember what we said about immediacy. It’s key! Liaison’s powerful EMP and the higher education marketing talent behind the technology ensure that you leave no names in the dust. The HigherYield solution offers four base packages, but each one is highly customizable depending on program need and client request. From relevant, targeted email campaigns to personalized microsites and everything in between, our strategy is designed with your prospects in mind.
The GRE Search Service and TOEFL Search Service database are updated twice weekly. So as long as there is a need for new prospects, the HigherYield solution can continue producing fresh leads. EMP’s trackable marketing data ensures that successful campaigns continue to engage applicants. If changes are required, they can be made on the fly. International student recruitment may be taking a hit, but the HigherYield solution will make the process easier.
“Having the support that Liaison provides me is really priceless. To get eight enrolled students from $4.80, what else can I possibly do better than that? It’s exciting to see those numbers and know that this really works for us.”
–Kelly Holmes, Dean of Graduate Admissions at Marist College
It’s no secret that state funding for higher education is decreasing, but it has left institutions wondering where the money for repairs and building renovations are going to come from. In Wisconsin, the state legislature approved over $1 billion for these projects throughout the University of Wisconsin system. The lack of funds affects colleges across the country, as a 2016 estimation of backlog work was reported at $30 billion. Some colleges have opted to get private funding help, like the University of California, Merced which is working on a $1.3 billion project to double their campus footprint.
Transgender students to be accepted at Morehouse College
This fall, Morehouse College will begin admitting transgender students who identify as men. The only historically Black all-men’s school in the country developed this new policy after over a year of consideration. Women, transgender women or anyone who identifies as a woman will not be considered for admission. Also, if any enrolled male student transitions to a woman, they will not be allowed to stay at Morehouse. The first women’s college to admit transgender women was Mills College, in 2015, followed by Smith College that same year. This is a huge step for transgender students and is supported by the National Black Justice Coalition which notes that socially constructed identities, like gender, are often divisive to families and are used to deny access to education and public resources.
A push for universities to use plain language on their websites, applications and communications with potential students was sparked by the complex and convoluted forms and documents high school students are facing during the application process. Over half of last year’s high school seniors did not complete the FAFSA, forfeiting $24 billion in financial help. And one of the reasons might have been that they couldn’t understand what was being asked of them. The University of Georgia responded to this push and mailed a student handbook to incoming freshman that was written in plain language. It includes a list of acronyms and academic terms incoming students may not be familiar with and was also translated into Spanish, Korean and Chinese.
With about half of today’s college students never finishing their degree, colleges are losing about $16.5 billion in revenue since 1981. ReUp Education is focused on re-enrolling students and has announced several funding partnerships totaling $6 million to help colleges with this problem. Together with the higher education institution, ReUp uses data, technology and coaching to support students in their quest to return to school and complete their degrees. Over 8,000 students have returned to school since 2015 due to ReUp and over 400 of them have graduated thus far.
Liaison’s Leah Bianchi recently caught up with Tony Wynne, director of admissions and recruitment affairs for the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). Tony, who will be a presenter at the Liaison User Conference at the end of the month, talks about his upcoming visit to Boston for the event.
Leah Bianchi (LB), Liaison: How long have you been with AAVMC? What did you do before this role?
Tony Wynne, AAVMC (TW): I’ve been with AAVMC for 12 years. Prior to AAVMC, I contracted with Sunrise Senior Living where I developed a Project Management Office for their IT Departments. Prior to that, I held positions at DeVry University in both the admissions and academic affairs offices.
(LB): How long have you worked with Liaison’s products and services? What has your experience with Liaison been?
(TW): In the 12 years that I’ve been working with Liaison, I’ve seen the company grow in terms of clients and services. During that time, Liaison International has positioned itself as a leader in the higher education space.
(LB):What are you looking forward to at the Liaison User Conference?
(TW): The Liaison User Conference is an excellent opportunity to network with others and to learn about Liaison products. I look forward to sharing ideas, opening minds and working together to pave the road to improvements in higher education management and processing.
(LB):Do you frequent conferences like this one? If so, what tips do you have for attendees to help them get the most out of the conference?
(TW): I spend an enormous amount of time at conferences and meetings globally. I would highly recommend that attendees come to the Liaison User Conference with an open mind and that they try to think outside the box when they learn about the various products available to them. I’d also recommend that users learn ways to improve their processes to best utilize these systems rather than try to make the systems meet their current practices.
(LB):You submitted a session via our Call for Speakers and we were quite excited to accept it. Can you give readers an overview of what inspired your proposal?
(TW): My session, “Does It Make the Boat Go Faster?,” was inspired by the concept of implementation intentions used by the British rowing team in 1997 to lead their team to gold in the 2000 Summer Olympic Games. I’ve applied this concept to admissions processing and applicant development. Success, future visualization and obstacle resolution are the key takeaways from this session.
(LB): Who do you believe would get the most out of attending your session (e.g., current CAS users, people considering CAS, etc.)?
(TW): Honestly, this session can apply to anyone attending. It’s not system specific and can be used in every aspect of the applicant pipeline, applicant management, admissions processing and administration.
(LB): Anything non-conference related that you’re looking forward to while you’re visiting Boston?
(TW): The Liaison User Conference is an organic conference, so I tend to see where the conference brings me while I’m there and I stay away from pre-planning anything.