Tell Me About Yourself

In my spare time, which I'm finding less and less of these days, I like to volunteer whenever possible. Whether it's a soup kitchen, pro bono management consulting, or something education related like alumni volunteering at admission events or anything in the K12 arena really, I take a lot of pleasure in finding ways to give back to my immediate and surrounding community.

The other day I had a really fantastic experience holding mock interview sessions for high school juniors. I sat at a table and every 10 or so minutes a new student would come introduce themselves and I'd start..."tell me about yourself." I wasn't disappointed a single time.

From the student whose family moved here from another country when he was in third grade and lacks confidence in his [really superb] English; to the cosmetology student who isn't only taking courses in high school and a local college, but spending her weekends networking with makeup artists in New York; or the self-identified dyslexic guy who not only owned the learning disorder but also went into great detail into how he works so diligently to overcome it each day--I simply sat there in awe.

I listened as students talked about their strengths and weaknesses, opening their vulnerabilities up to a complete stranger--something that's hard to do as an adult, let alone a high school student. I saw passion in the eyes of the student who talked about the feeling of accomplishment he gained from replacing a side panel on a car; felt the love from a student far beyond his years when he talked about how he wasn't currently working because he was helping his family watch his younger siblings so his parents could work; and saw the ambition in each student expressing their dreams for the future, whether those entailed heading directly into the workforce, moving away to college, or joining the military. The dreams were all different--the passion the same.

I follow a ton of threads, groups, pages, and communities dedicated to college admission, both the profession itself and the students who make the profession, well, a profession. There have been plenty of times where I've seen counselors (both school and admission) who are completely jaded when it comes to today's students. As someone who doesn't work in the industry, I guess it's easy for me to say that I just can't see how that's possible. But based on my recent experience, I can say the quickest way to tear out of that slump is simply to ask a student to..."tell me about yourself."

I can't wait to do it again.

Arthur Arzola Scholarship - Humboldt State University

Arthur-ArzolaLast week's accident involving a bus filled with students traveling to Humboldt State University really struck home for many of us in the higher education space. It hit even harder when we discovered that one of the victims was an EM pro in every sense of the word. Arthur Arzola was an advocate. He was compassionate. He was filled with a passion for the field. He wanted to see students succeed. And, he put his everything into his role as an admissions representative at Humboldt State, reaching out to those students who had the potential, but needed the extra push.

From all of the wonderful stories we've read about Arthur and from the testimonies of his co-workers and friends, we know he was the push those students needed. In fact, he was also the pull, going directly into their communities and bringing them right back to his campus.

Arthur got what admissions is all about.

He may have never participated in #EMchat--who knows, he may not have ever heard of us. But, he was one of us.

And, we want to do something to honor him. A card and flowers seemed the likely route, but after mulling over some more ideas, Jennielle, Jillian, and I came up with something more fitting. A scholarship in Arthur's name, benefiting the students he sought to provide guidance to--first generation.

We don't have any cool t-shirts this time, but you can be sure that we'll be donating the full amount of money raised to Humboldt State. If we raise a few hundred dollars, super. We'll provide a book scholarship. If we raise more, even better. We'll offset the cost of college, continuing Arthur's mission to open the door to dreams, potential, and success for hardworking, deserving students.

We'll be running this fundraiser until May 16th and will keep you updated on our communication with Humboldt state regarding the initiative and our success along the way.

Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik had a much more eloquent post honoring Arthur earlier this week.

Please share this campaign with your colleagues and your friends. The higher education community is a tight knit one. Let's come together for a phenomenal cause for a phenomenal man.


This Week's #EMchat - Customer Service: PointAcross Solutions

This week’s #EMchat guest is Colleen Sheehan, Senior VP at PointAcross Solutions. PointAcross Solutions blends communication technology and design to bridge the communication gap between video and email – all with an eye toward helping partner schools reach their recruitment, retention and revenue goals. This week’s chat focuses on customer service in the enrollment management space and we hope that you’ll join us Thursday night at 9PM EST!

We’ve reblogged one of their posts below that highlights communications with prospective and current students. You can read this post directly on PointAcross Solutions’ blog, along with all sorts of other great pieces.


 One of the best sessions at the NACUBO Student Financial Services conference this week was a panel with three college students talking about communications, including their preferences and how college administrators can better reach their peers.

Here are three tips on how to reach students more effectively:

1. Email is the best way to reach students.

This has been debated over and over, with many surveys proclaiming email is still relevant and other findings saying email is ineffective. The fact remains most schools require students to check their student email accounts. To make your emails more effective, make sure you:

  • Keep subject lines short, sweet and relevant
  • Edit out fluff, keep action dates and links clear, and don't mix social updates and administrative responsibilities
  • Include tutorials, where possible. Most schools say their phones ring off the hook when they send important emails, so offset some of these calls by helping students (and parents) self-serve more effectively

2. Selectively use Twitter, Facebook and text messaging.

Communicating with students via different channels has its pros and cons, and there’s no clear answer when it comes to whether you should be using these outlets or not. One college Bursar admitted his office has been on Twitter for years, yet with only 80 followers he knows he’s not reaching even 1% of the student body via Twitter.

 The student panelists all said it’s fine to use these channels, but use them selectively. Use Facebook to push messages out, but make it clear you’re not trying to take over students’ social feeds. While Twitter may be a good way to push deadlines, dates and forms, don’t worry about tweeting multiple times a day or about pleasantries like “have a good weekend.” Keep it relevant and simple.

As for text messaging from administrative offices, the students all agreed it had to be personal. “Don’t group text us,” they said, “but if we know it’s something directly related[to us], a text will get our attention.” That means more work on your end segmenting your lists and contacts, but the return will be higher.

3. Video tutorials are helpful, as long as they aren’t on YouTube.

 The students loved the idea of audio-visual tutorials and said some of their schools were creating these for important processes. They all pointed to PowerPoint as helpful to students and parents alike to share screenshots and walk them through next-steps. However, there was a collective and strong caution against putting these tutorials on YouTube. Videos hosted on your site and embedded in email will help both students and parents complete the processes you want with fewer errors and distractions.

 As your school looks to improve communications and create smooth processes related to Student Financial Services, take a cue directly from your target audience and keep these tips in mind. If you’d like to see how our schools are using eMessages to better meet the needs of parents and students, give us a call.

Tonight on #EMchat -- Cross-Campus Collaboration

The team from Scannell & Kurz is joining us this week for our chat on cross-campus collaboration. While we always love seeing them in the #EMchat feed, SK’s recent #SKcollaborate series really caught my (Alex’s) attention a few months ago. A big theme in the #EMchat community is “no more silos.” Thursday’s chat will jump right into that conversation.

It’s always great to see how institutions work within themselves to create efficiencies, develop stronger programs, or simply (which really is not so simple) improve communication. We’d love to hear what your institution is doing!

Just to touch on a few, the SK team has recently published some great posts on what campuses across the US are doing on the collaboration front. Check them out:

 Joining us from  Scannell & Kurz will be some familiar faces to #EMchat, Mary PiccioliAaron Mahl, and Tim Schuldt. If those names don’t ring a bell to you, you can read all about them, here.

 Scannell & Kurz's services span the enrollment management space, from strategic financial aid and recruitment strategy development through enrollment management organizational reviews and tools such as SKORE and FAST. They've worked with over 300 institutions through the years and bring a great team to the table.

 We're excited to have them join us this week and hope to see you there!

Virtual Viewing Party: Admissions On Trial

AdmissionDocTITLEIf you missed the live streaming, the documentary is up all the time online!


So, about that summer schedule. We have bigger things on our plate.

As you all know, the Supreme Court is set to rule on Fisher v. Texas before the end of June. As enrollment management pros, it would make sense that we (you) have a vested interest in the outcome, as should all of America.

I'm sure you saw Jennielle's tweets the other night regarding a documentary that was recently released,  Admissions on Trial: Seven Decades of Race and Higher Education, and we'd really love to incorporate this into an overarching discussion on affirmative action and the court's ruling.

SO - here's what we have planned:

  • THIS Thursday (6/20) we'll be having a virtual viewing party of the documentary. It seems like it was made for #EMchat because it's just under an hour.
  • Thanks to PBS-KLRU in Austin, we've been set up with an OVEE account to view the documentary, with chat included - Click here!
  • Feel free to use #EMchat and #AdmissionsTrial as well on Twitter. I'll be tweeting takeaways/facts throughout the documentary on Twitter AND participating in the OVEE.
  • We'd also love for you all to submit questions to us this week regarding the documentary and overall case that we can present to the documentary's writer, director, producer, Lynn Boswell. We'll pull these together for a Q & A blog post.
  • Our 6/27 chat will be replaced with a Reactions Chat centered around the decision. We'll likely take some of the questions received throughout the week and rework them into a chat format.

We're really excited about this and we're pumped to be working with Lynn to make this a reality. Click on the Evite below to join the viewing party. We won't have any questions scheduled, but I'm sure there will be plenty of thoughts!

We'd love to know who's coming, so please RSVP!