Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Attrition Leads to Cuts. Retention to Success

…record budget cuts being ordered at colleges and universities

16 positions in the college were affected by layoffs, restructuring or position eliminations

Universities Brace for Budget Cuts Universities Lose Billions as Recession Deepens

Regents Approve Furloughs for 22,000 Workers Harvard Faculty Will Freeze Pay to Help Slash Budget Tulsa Community College Hit With Financial Aid Problems

U of Tennessee System Prepares for $75 Million Budget CUT

Carnegie Mellon U Implements Pay Freezes

Colleges have been announcing "prudent" cuts, citing endowment losses.

Harvard Freezes Salaries and Suspends Faculty Searches

These are a sampling of headlines from higher education publications the past week. The message seems to be that

Revenue is dropping so cut. Maybe not needed if....

The average college, university or career college loses between 30-48% of its enrollment each year.

That means schools also lose the tuition, fees and state/federal support that walk out the door with lost students. 30-48% of it

But if a school actually retained some of these students…

Here is an excerpt from The Power of Retention that will help focus the issue for your school. It can help you and your college figure out what retention could mean to your future, or lack of it.

CSFactor 1: The Cost of Attrition

CSF1 helps a college figure out how much revenue/money it is losing from its actual attrition. CSFactor 1 is stated as:

CSF1 = [(P X A= SL) X T]

In the formula, P represents the total school population; not just the starting fall freshman number. Most schools use the fall incoming freshmen number and that is an error. The assumption is that attrition occurs most in the first six weeks of the freshman year. That may have some validity for the freshman year but the reality is that students are leaving colleges and universities in any one of the average six-plus years of a four-year degree and in the four-plus average years of a two-year degree. Students leave a school throughout their experience at the college. In fact, some schools are beginning to realize this and worry about the sophomore bubble.1 But they really need to worry about the super soph sluff, the rising junior jilt, the junior jump, super junior split, the fourth year flee and so on. Every year, every semester, in fact every day is a chance for a student to drop out. Colleges need to be concerned with every student every day of their attendance, for it could be his or her last. So we look at the total population.

Annualized tuition is the number a school should use to figure its real attrition. Not the retention between the first and second semester or the freshman and sophomore years which are very popular ones. That leaves out all the students who already dropped out before the end of the second term or semester. That number fudges failure. For instance, if a college began a year with 100 new freshman and 99 left in week one but the remaining student stayed the whole year and returned for a sophomore year, the freshman to sophomore percentage would be 100%.

In CSF1, A equals attrition. Again not just from freshman but an annualized attrition rate. And this rate is to include ALL students who leave for any reason. It does not matter if the student says he or she will be back. They are not in the population bringing in revenue until they actually do return. If they pay a place holding fee, that does not count them as a student until they are actually back in classes.

Fudge with the numbers if you have a need for delusion or are insecure, unethical or want to keep the Board feeling better, but when you use the formulas, be fully honest. It will help you understand why the budget is not working or may suddenly implode. No one likes surprises, especially ones that have parentheses around them in the budget and lead to freezes, cuts and the like. Using the formulas honestly can help forecast a reality to avoid surprises and initiate work on retaining students to maintain fiscal and operating health.

SL stands for students lost annually from total population and revenue production. And T equals annual tuition at the school.

So here is what showed up when we analyzed CSF1 for Mammon University. You may know it. Its motto is Omnes Por Pecunia. Anything for a Buck.

Its total population was 500 students

Annualized attrition was at 39.6%

So SL (students lost annually) was 198.

Times an annual tuition of $13,000.

So, the formula becomes:

[(500 x 39.6% = 198) x $13,000] = a revenue loss of ($2,574,000)

To carry this forward, we can plug in other numbers and see how an increase in retention could add to the bottom line and thus the ability to pay for full time faculty, staff, their benefits, increases for adjuncts, instructional equipment, tutors, research release, new curricula and programs, maintenance, and so on. All those pesky costs that make a college or university better.

If attrition dropped by 5% for this school, and we substitute 5% increased retention for attrition percentage in the formula.

CSF1 = [(500 x 5% = 25) x 13,000] = $325,000 more revenue

Plug your school’s numbers in, and see how increasing retention affects your budget and instructional strength while attrition will sap the ability to meet budget and mission.

There are two additional Customer Service factors discussed in The Power of Retention along with much more on what motivates students to stay at or leave a college, university or career college.

But even without reading any more of the book, schools can change some of the headlines that are at the start of this piece is they just start to realize that

Attrition Costs Money.

Retention Makes Money.

And for those worrying about shrinking donations from alumni – here’s a thought. Students who drop out do not become alumni.

Please forward this article on to colleagues and especially the president, business officer and trustees at your school. We need to get people thinking about retaining students through graduation. It is in the best interest of the schools, their ability to meet mission, help build our economic and intellectual wealth.

And really most important, if we all believe that obtaining an education and degree is necessary for success, we owe the students who put their trust for a better future in our hands to do all we can to keep them in our classes and graduate. It just takes some real focus and academic customer service.

When students learn, we earn.

They do too. They stay and graduate!

And isn't that why they come to your school in the first place?

The Power of Retention, Dr. Raisman’s latest book on customer service and retention builds on that in important ways with timely solutions to improve retention.

The Power of Retention is published by The Administrator’s Bookshelf.

"A must read for anyone who cares about retention"

"Even better than Embrace the Oxymoron..."

"A practical and enjoyable read...I now understand academic customer service and why it is so important."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Special Offer on Retention Workshops and Books from The Administrators Bookshelf

Dr. Raisman. I am a Dean of a small campus in Wellsville New York that matches your overall philosophy. But as you know not everyone believes. When I read your book, a number of things struck me. Your book articulated my frustrations and ways to fix them in simple terms. The plan is to send a copy of your book to all academic department chairs on both campuses, the deans, vice presidents and president. I know it will be a good read & will help me start a discussion on how Great Service in fact will make a difference. Craig R Clark,, Dean, Alfred State College

Dean Clark purchased 30 copies for his college. Another school purchased 51 and a conference purchased 126. They inspired us to help others make a difference and save you some money.

We wish to support Dr. Neal Raisman in his mission to increase student retention through graduation. We know his workshops and training have helped over 200 colleges and schools.

We also want to help by getting copies of his book The Power of Retention to as many readers as possible as a way of increasing retention on campuses. So, we are offering special arrangements to provide the services of one of our authors Dr. Neal Raisman for free or just about free.

For any school, college, university, business or conference that purchases 25 or more copies at a 20% off cost to make things even easier, Dr. Raisman will provide a one-hour audio seminar on any topic you choose or wish. We will also help out by dropping S+H to just $2 per copy.

If a school or other purchases 50 or more copies and hires Dr. Raisman to give a workshop or seminar on-site, we will pay for his travel expenses and provide a follow-up seminar on any topic of your choice.

If a school or other purchases 100 or more copies and hires Dr. Raisman to give a workshop or seminar on-site, we will pay half his fee.

For much less than the value of retaining just one more student, you and your school will save as much as $5,000, get copies of the Power of Retention and Dr. Raisman’s services, and increase you present and future success.

And Dr. Raisman will provide a year of telephone consultation for free. We will also help out by dropping S+H to just $2 per copy for up to 50 copies and a dollar each for over 50 copies.

To take advantage of this special arrangement, click here and enter SXO after your name on the order form.

Embrace the Oxymoron by Neal Raisman, PhD introduced academic customer service for retention and morale and has been the best selling work ever on the topic.

The Power of Retention, Dr. Raisman’s latest book on customer service and retention builds on that in important ways with timely solutions to improve retention.

The Power of Retention is published by The Administrator’s Bookshelf.

"A must read for anyone who cares about retention"

"Even better than Embrace the Oxymoron..."

"A practical and enjoyable read...I know understand academic customer service and why it is so important."

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Students Go to the Head of The Caste

A comment on my article on the College caste system got me to thinking a bit more on what I wrote. Anonymous said...
So, where do students (including student leaders & student-run groups) fit into the caste system? It seems like their voice is somewhere below "untouchable", and yet there are some amazing untapped resources there.
The commenter is absolutely right.

When we do not tap the ideas, thoughts, concerns and feelings of our primary customer, we lose the most valuable information of all. We do not know how or even if we are affecting, treating and engaging our clients.

Yet, most colleges and businesses never really do engage our clients.
It’s not that students are untouchable at most schools. They are not even really considered in decisions that affect them. Oh sure we think about how we think our decision will affect students but do we really check with them and see what they think? Do we survey them on major issues to obtain the thoughts of our clients? No.

Usually we do what failing businesses do. We check with ourselves, the administrators and faculty to see what our customers want. That’s the common mode of operation at Ford College , GM University and Chrysler Tech.

Works real well? Huh?
We need to make room for our students in our caste system. They should be on the very top of it. They are why we exist. This is how the system should look.

The Essentials – those we exist to serve without whom there would
be no college, university or career college - the students
• The Brahmins -- those engaged in sacrifices, and priestly functions Senior Administrators, vice-presidents, trustees
• The Kshtriyas -- Rulers and warriors Full-time Faculty

• The Vaishyas -- Merchants, farmers, and tradesmen Deans, Directors,
• The Shudras -- Laborers, craftsmen, service professions - Managers
• The Dalits –so unworthy as to be casteless Clerical, maintenance, adjuncts (but only part time)

And we should consult them regularly to learn from them. Just as Lincoln Memorial University did following the audio seminar on retaining students over Thanksgiving. (audio of the seminar available request here)

Judy Beal, VP for Student Services along with Larry Thacker, Enrollment Manager at LMU, and their wonderful people did send out a simple survey as suggested. What two things would you want changed to make going to school here better? Larry said he received over 80 individual survey responses in one day. He had been sorting through them and sent them forward to the president and her cabinet for action.
Since most of the responses had two, or more suggestions, that means that means that LMU has discovered over 150 irritation points that can be reviewed and fixed to retain more students. Well done folks!!!!

Students will tell you what you need to do to keep them happy. Just include them and ask! Thanks commenter. But almost didn’t print it because it came in anonymously. Everyone has a name. Use it please.

The Raisman Retention Group and our partner The Administrators Bookshelf know that money is tight and getting tighter. So we have developed a Books and Workshop special that will help you retain more students and revenue. Buy multiple copies of my new book The Power of Retention for your staff administrators and you can get a free audio or even an on-site conference on any retention or customer service topic of your choosing for as many of your people as you would like. For details click here.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Increase Enrollment up to 12% by Attending to POCmarks

Colleges lose at least 12% of potential students as soon as they make actually contact with the school. These are potential students who were interested enough and motivated enough to contact you for information or even come to the campus to learn more. But because of the college’s POCmarks, 12% additional enrollment was lost.


Yes. That’s right. POCFmarks. Like when you had chicken pox and Mom said don’t scratch them because they would leave permanent scars. Like the acne you worried bout when you were in school. Afraid that people would judge you by your appearances. That’s them. POCmarks. And your school or business very likely has some and they are turning new students and customers away. 12% of them in fact. 12% do not choose your college because of your POCmarks.

POCmarks. That’s what we call them in our POCmarking Analysis of a school. These are the POC’s – Points of Contact. The front line initial contacts that potential students, parents and others make with your school. They include your

All of the things and people who create the first impression for a potential student, her family, his friends and the community. These are the first impression point of contact factors that either build interest or turn potential students away. BTW, not all POCmarks may seem to be equal. Wouldn’t an actual interaction with someone be a stronger imprinting factor than an objective collateral aspect on campus? It seems logical that a rude receptionist would turn off students stronger than say than dead shrubs? But if the dead shrubs, scruffy grass, poorly designed or maintained signs, isolated parking lot, litter or fading paint create the first impressions, the potential student may never make it to the rude receptionist.

A poorly designed, difficult to navigate or DIY website can block the call for an appointment to discuss coming to the college. A catalog…well, most every catalog generates a huge POCmark if the school is not using a personalization program such as Leadwise.

So it is equally important, sometimes even more important to investigate any potential POCmarks that ARE hurting your ability to succeed and perhaps even surpass your enrollment and population goals. So, let’s discuss some POCmarks and what you can do about them.

Let’s start with a quick discussion of one of the more common potential POCmarks – the college website. We have just about completed our annual study of college websites with the assistance of COREacademics Group and are not pleased to be able to say that out of the fifty randomly chosen websites of two and four-year not-for profit and for-profit, public, private and career colleges, 84% look and perform as if they were created by the Hoover Group. Hoover? Well, you know what Hoover vacuums do? They suck up dirt – right? Well, take it from there.

These 42 sites had significant issues in design ranging from just plain boring which is a large POCmark for students to so poorly designed that a potential student would have real difficulty finding what she needs to be able to learn about the school because the site was not designed as a sales tool for potential student but to please an internal audience. Boring is a sin today. Your website homepage is in competition with not just other local schools but with the major commercial and social networking sites that students use to gauge all others. When a person uses a set of websites on a regular basis and they find some level of pleasure in them, they become imprinted as the standards against which to judge others. That means your website is in competition with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, even Ebay and Google.

Tough competition you say. Not really if you just learn from them. There are definite success characteristics in all of them. First, they are designed for the customer; not the internal company users. They have been created based on what the customer wants and needs. They have studied their clients and then provided them ease of usage to help them execute quickly and easily from the homepage to where they want to go and what they want to do.

The homepages are clean, uncluttered and have no extraneous boxes, buttons, dropdowns, rolling information or videos, links, words, pictures or anything for employees. They provide just what is needed; no more, no less. So what do students look for and need? Students are after a job so they want to be able to get to information on the programs and degrees that lead top jobs. They have to pay so they want to know about costs and even more important, financial aid. They want to apply so they need application information. They want to be able to contact the school, administrators or offices for more information. They also want personalization. 

If they are not, the website becomes a major POCmark for the school. By be on the page I mean a clear link to the information. Not any specifics. Give them the way to the information. And when they get to the information. Keep it simple, non-technical, devoid of our insider jargon and with a student orientation.
If you are interested in having your website evaluated and then designed top be one that’ll help and not be a POCmark, we can arrange for a free website analysis through our partners at COREacademics. Just let me know and I will make arrangements.

As for the other items on the list above, they are all serious POCmarks that will keep you from hitting all your goals and that includes 12% of all potential students. If you’d like more information on how you know if you have POCmarks, contact me and we’ll talk. If you’d like to get rid of them, I recommend an application of information from my best selling book The Power of Retention as a strong starting point for a DIY study as well as the links I have identified in this article.
If you wish greater expertise with an expert analysis plus solutions that will work, contact me. Be glad to help you gain that other 12% or at least a large chunk of it.

AcademicMAPS is the leader in increasing student retention, enrollment and revenue through research training and customer service solutions to colleges, universities and career colleges in the US, Canada, and Europe as well as to businesses that seek to work with them
We increase your success


GET A COPY OF MY NEW BOOK THE POWER OF RETENTION: MORE CUSTOMER SERVICE IN HIGHER EDUCATION by clicking here. Conduct your own campus customer service retention seminars. Discounts on multiples copies of The Power of Retention.
“We had hoped we’d improve our retention by 3% but with the help of Dr. Raisman, we increased it by 5%.” Rachel Albert, Provost, University of Maine-Farmington

“Neal led a retreat that initiated customer service and retention as a real focus for us and gave us a clear plan. Then he followed up with presentations and workshops that kicked us all into high gear. We recommend with no reservations; just success.” Susan Mesheau, Executive Director U First: Integrated Recruitment & Retention University of New Brunswick

“Thank you so much for the wonderful workshop at Lincoln Technical Institute. It served to re-center ideas in a great way. I perceived it to be a morale booster, breath of fresh air, and a burst of passion.” Shelly S, Lincoln Technical Institute