Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Herzing College Got Out of the Admission Cubicle and Increased Enrollment

I had the pleasure of talking with Roger Gugelmeyer today. Roger is the VP of Operations for Herzing College, a college system with 12 campuses in the US and Canada that focus on career education. Roger was telling me about a new admission’s structure that is a variant on what I have been advising colleges to go to for over a year now. And Roger says the new approach is working very well. (i.e., increasing enrollments & starts).

What the College is doing is getting out of the cubicle/individual office approach to admissions. That’s where an admissions person sits in a cubicle or office behind his or her desk. In the cublicle mode, the potential student generally sits to the right or left side in a typically non-descript office chair. Both have to strain a bit to look at one another and make good eye contact. This traditional set-up almost always reminds students of Dilbert or a movie favorite of theirs, Office Spaces. A space that is connotative of a dull, business-like, corporate, uncaring, undesirable work situation.

Potential students have told us they also relate the cubicle to negative k-12 experiences like a high school student would do when called down to the vice-principle’s office (i.e. in trouble) or when a teacher is tutoring or explaining something. They are recalled as superior/inferior situations. And the student is the inferior. Not a good memory to evoke.

Neither is felt as a positive experience yet we in college admissions do all we can to recreate it.

Herzing is doing away with the individual offices for admissions advisors. At Herzing, all the admission advisors share a “bullpen space” rather than have private offices. The private territories were replaced with nicely appointed interview rooms that are used by all the admission reps on an as-needed basis. The interview rooms are more relaxed, intimate and less corporate in their furnishings (round table, floor lamp, plants, etc.) and design. Much in the way that some companies like Steelcase, and many of their clients, have done away with cubicles and replaced them with common workspaces and shared meeting rooms to create a greater sense of community and cooperation.

The result has been that Herzing admission advisors have enjoyed an increase in applications and enrollments; greater cooperation and increased success, personally and by teams. It is not quite the zone approach discussed in an earlier posting (Basketball as Admissions Metaphor), but it is a variant with solid success

Herzing is headed in the right direction. No question. Tomorrow, we'll discuss combining some of what they are doing, with the objective correlative of Starbucks to "vente-size" admissions. (Not sure that is a real word but then again I'm not sure most of the coffee-related terms are real. I am sure of Starbucks's success and how it can help school admissions. Tomorrow or email me know at

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