May 1st: It's Coming

May 1st marks a pretty big day for students all over (at least in the media, since, you know, May 1st is now a pretty flexible date), but Decision Day still carries a lot of hype. If we think about it in media terms, this is the date when prospective students choose the institution that will help to shape the rest of their lives.

And so, it’s a bit ironic that May 1st plays a pretty big role in my life as well when it comes to the realm of enrollment management.

For the last five (which is crazy to me) years, I’ve spent my time on Capitol Hill working for both the Senate and House as an analyst and program manager, respectively, in the area of emergency preparedness and continuity. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to work with super smart people who have shaped my professional career and personal life. I’ve found great mentors and made many friends. I've also learned a lot professionally, and while my next stop isn’t in the emergency preparedness space, there are definite lessons and skills that I’ll carry forward with me.

But, it’s no secret that my passion centers around enrollment management and higher education in general. If you’re reading this and you didn’t know that, surprise!

While my actual “decision day” was about six weeks ago, May 1st marks my first day with Technolutions. I will be leaving my super-beloved Maryland behind for currently snowier pastures in Connecticut. I’m blessed to have a wife who supports all my endeavors, even though it means leaving almost all of our family (and almost all of our friends) five hours away...and selling and buying homes when she’s five months pregnant. I’m also blessed to have a son who can’t really tell me he doesn’t want to move quite yet…and another on the way who will call Connecticut his first home.

Relationships have always been at the core of all decisions I’ve made in my professional and personal lives and I’m thrilled to be able to work with a company that operates in the same way. To put this opportunity in one word, it’s exhilarating.  

When considering relationships, I’d absolutely be amiss if I didn’t credit this opportunity to #EMchat. Whether it’s the knowledge I’ve gained through this community, the professional connections I’ve been able to make, or the personal relationships that have grown from those connections; this community is extraordinary and I’m so lucky to have been a part of it for almost four years now. Thanks to everyone who makes it a possibility and continues to grow the community.

With that said, I’m now in a whole new area which means so many more opportunities for meetings in real life! Give me a shout if you’re in the area, and while Scott Cline would probably say that I’m really unreliable when it comes to making coffees, lunches, or happy hours happen, I’m really trying to be better about it! I promise, I’m real.

See you soon, higher ed!

Alex

My 1 Motivator -- The End Goal

After my recent post on pushing through failure, I received some really positive feedback from the higher ed community to continue pushing through—and thanks a ton for that!

I also received a few messages and emails asking what it is that makes me want to push through. Where did the motivation come from? How do you pull yourself out of a failed attempt? To clarify, my startup itself didn’t fail. Has it taken off fully? Nope. But the failure I discussed was a huge setback in my race to launch.

Layout 1So to answer your question regarding what pulled me through my failure directly, Anthony, Jen, Christina, Jordan, and the random email I got that I tried responding directly to but couldn’t for some reason (whoever you are)—my startup is simply a step toward a larger end goal. Looking at it as a step in my career path rather than a career in itself allowed--allows--me to focus on the big picture. Of course, it took me a few months to actually realize this.

What’s my big picture? First impressions. That’s pretty vague, but that’s it.

In a not-so-humble-brag-kind-of-way (mostly because humble brags are actually more of a brag than a regular brag), relationships are my thing. Some people are good at accounting. Some are good at sports. Some can build the hell out of a house. I understand people. Really well. I’m also like a human CRM. I can have one conversation with a person and tell you a year later exactly what we talked about and connect them to a totally unrelated person based on a random commonality. In the end, all relationships start (obviously) with the first impression and the ability to manage that.

For many students, the college fair is that initial person-to-person impression that a prospective student has with an institution. leadpath works to improve a small piece of the puzzle. It’s a step. Other first impressions are ads, campus visits, or a simple phone call with a current student doing an admissions phone-a-thon. My big picture is to consult with institutions to improve first impressions—to make this process easier with technology and training. Each strategy is unique and each institution requires a different approach.  The challenges are incredible and something that I look forward to.

The business competition was a failure, for sure. But it was only a failure in the sense that we didn’t walk away with $50K. We did walk away with really refined pitches. We walked away with over 70 conversations with institutions spanning the education spectrum. We walked away with input from a couple hundred individuals who took the time to help guide the build out. We walked away with a ton of knowledge. And for my big picture, those things are worth significantly more than the initial $50K.

If you get discouraged with a paper, a project, a business venture, or some other personal challenge, it’s easier channel your disappointment into motivation when looking at the bigger picture, the end goal.

Also, I'm a big Stephen Covey fan. His book on The 7 Effective Habits of Highly Effective People was written two years after I was born and I have read it a number of times. It's every bit as true as the day it was published.

Digitally Driven Admissions & Data

I’m particularly excited for this week’s #EMchat because it centers on one of the things I love most, modernization and leaning forward.

In the last decade, the enrollment management world has seen a massive shift toward a serious focus on data. As admissions is the starting point for students in the college search, it really makes sense that this portion of the industry is blazing the digital path for all higher education to get on board. That’s not to say that other parts of the higher ed world aren’t on board with data and digital, it’s just my opinion that admissions leads the pack.

And to dissuade anyone from posting that I don’t know what I’m talking about because MOOCs are leading the digital advance of higher ed, my previous post makes it pretty clear that MOOCs (once again, in my opinion) are only a fraction of the #edtech movement.

This week we’ll be talking all things digital.

But, to get us started.....

[polldaddy poll=7955919]

The #EDtech Conversation

I had a really interesting conversation last night with Jake from Carnegie Communications. You all are probably pretty familiar with them by now, but if you’re not, I’d recommend (as an outsider to both the company and actual industry) getting acquainted. It’s a pretty legit team. That’s an aside…more like a forward, I guess.

Regardless, Jake and I were having a conversation about ed tech, and our conversation was (for a moment) focused on the fact that when people think “ed tech,” their minds pretty much jump to MOOCs. That’s all people were talking about in 2013. It’s pretty much all that people are still talking about—7 of the 10 most recent articles on Inside Higher Education’s technology page are on MOOCs and online learning. I get it. But ed tech goes FAR beyond this. Technology that supports education involves student tracking systems, predictive modeling, marketing, search, and an array of other tools.

While these tools might not be directly linked to learning, students won’t get to the learning part of college without many of them. And, if they do, maybe they’re learning at the wrong institution, taking the wrong classes, or are ill-prepared for the course load they’ve signed up for. I’m not suggesting that students can’t make good decisions on their own—they can and they do every day.

What I’m suggesting is that there are so many tools available to institutions that can optimize the student experience. We’re in an age of being able to build and track phenomenal relationships, effectively learn from historical data, and predict future outcomes, thus building more attainable and focused strategies. Institutions have the tools available to recruit, retain, and graduate students at greater rates. It’s just a matter of having the ability to adopt a new mindset and a willingness to try something new—even if it’s just a demo.

It’s time to start shifting the conversation from MOOCs to a more all-encompassing approach to ed tech.

Keep up with technology. Read up on trends and new products. Respect the fact that your CRM is just as important as the seats (or computers) in the classroom that it helps to fill. Spread the knowledge on your campus. Write a blog. Share an article. Take someone to coffee. Share your passion. Above all, keep your mind open—always.

#EMchat 43: #CRM in #HigherEd -Tweet of the Night goes to @lesteb

#EMchat 43's discussion was about one of our favorite topics: CRM in HigherEd.  We have had a couple of chats about CRM in the past.  Check out #EMchat 4: CRM I ,  #EMchat 7: CRM II, and Alex's (@AlexMWilliams_) post: "CRM 'til the end".

Tonight's CRM chat was fast and loaded with great information.

...and now, our Tweet of the Night!

Tweet of the Night: 

Tonight's TOTN goes to one of our newbies, Bryan Lester (@lesteb), for this amazing tweet: 

[tweet https://twitter.com/lesteb/status/248963597173149698]

RT if you agree! 

Tweet of the Night Honorable Mentions:

Fuji Fulgueras (@fujifulgueras), is on a TOTN roll lately.  We loved his tweet about CRM strategy:

[tweet https://twitter.com/fujifulgueras/status/248958855604744192]

Don't forget to RT if you agree! 

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Stephen (@Ostendorff) is another #EMchat newbie that provided this great reminder about vendors and campus buy-in:
[tweet https://twitter.com/Ostendorff/status/248956749338521601]
Thank you to everyone who participated tonight.  Have a great weekend! Check out our calendar for upcoming #EMchats.