Thursday, August 18, 2016

Enrollment Does Not End on the First Day of School

I just spoke to the VP for Enrollment Management at a large university. She informed me that enrollment looked slightly down from projections done in the Spring “now that the enrollment period is over”.

OVER? Enrollment is over? Is she nuts? Are the other seven out of ten administrators I spoke to who had similar thoughts also crazed? Is there some academic Alzheimer’s out there that affects the brains of college and university administrators when it comes to enrollment?

Enrollment is not over. It is barely underway as the second unique event of a multi-year process. Enrollment is not a singular event. It doesn’t end when a student signs an application, sends in a deposit and shows up on the start of classes day. It is a process as shown in the chart below. It is a continuum that starts with marketing and pauses at graduation. The real work of enrollment we call retention is just really beginning.

It’s the pet rock thing again. If admissions sells 100 pet rocks on Monday and 98 are returned on Wednesday, how many pet rocks were sold? Just 2!

So here is the process in its 8 steps as shown in the chart above. BTW, click on it and it will open larger in another window. Or so I was told.

  1. Marketing on-going
  2. Application - unique event
  3. Decision on-going
  4. Stitch In on-going
  5. Show unique event
  6. Retention on-going
  7. Graduation unique event
  8. Alumnus on-going leading to another retention process called fundraising.

The process starts and continues with marketing throughout the entire enrollment process. Marketing does not have to be the expensive activity of external advertising purchase but it does need to be as vigorous after the sale as before. Students need to be sold on their choice of your school every day. And if possible, every minute of the day. Students can make a buying decision “should I stay or leave?”- every day, every class, every encounter with people, the campus or even a mention of the school. 

Internal marketing can be as obvious as events, athletics, newspapers, newsletters slipped under doors or hung in bathrooms. The campus or building objective correlatives are also potential marketing statements that will influence buying decisions. Clean, safe campuses , walkways, good signs and even bathrooms are important.

POCmarks are also decision and buying points. If students encounter good customer service at the POCmarks, they are reinforced in their decision to stay – to self-retain. If they encounter weak, indifferent or poor academic customer service, well, that can end the enrollment process.

Repeat this mantra for success and greater happiness. Enrollment ends at graduation. Enrollment ends at graduation. Enrollment ends at graduation.
My work is just underway; not over. My work is just underway; not over.
I will retain students. I will retain students.

NRaisman& Associates has been helping over 450 colleges and universities in the U.S., Canada and Europe improve retention and enrollment through academic customer service since 1999. 

If you would like to increase retention  on your campus, contact us today at or 413.219.6939.

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