#EMchat Meet #CareerServChat - August 21st!

We’re excited to partner up with the #CareerServChat team for our chat on August 21st to discuss how student outcomes are affecting recruitment strategies and how these two divisions can work together toward common goals.

Elizabeth Dexter-Wilson kicked this topic off on #CareerServChat’s August 14th chat and we’re looking forward to continuing the conversation!

Pulled directly from their site, #CareerServChat is a Twitter chat dedicated to engaging college students and graduates in the career development process and answering career and job related questions. The professionals facilitating #CareerServChat support the use of career services offices and resources at colleges and universities.

Here’s the transcript of the chat:

Here are the questions for tonight's chat:

Q1: How have you seen student outcomes affect your recruitment efforts? Q2: What's the collaboration level between EM/Career Services on your campus? How has this evolved? Q3: Does career services participate in EM events (open houses, admitted student day, etc.) on your campus? Q4: What information or support do you look for from your career services? What about from EM? Q5: Should any particular office be "in charge" of discussing with students the value/ROI of careers from your institution? Q6: Have you had any negative experiences stemming from the need to promote outcomes? Either from faculty or students?

And as always, feel free to bring your own questions to the party…and a drink. That’s always a necessity.

Still not sold on the role of student outcomes in the world of recruitment? Check out this post on 2014 Trends from our friends over at The Lawlor Group -- read them all, but definitely Trend 3!

See you on Thursday!

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]

Predictive Modeling WEBINAR Poll!

We're excited to be offering our FIRST webinar this Spring in tandem with the team at Rapid Insight. Topic? Predictive Modeling!

We're testing this out as we try out some concepts to incorporate in our potential UNconference(s). WHAT? Yes. We're working on it :)

As far as the webinar round table, we're aiming for late March or early April. We know this is really the middle of conference season, but we're going to make it happen!

Take the poll below to let us know which month would work best for you (and yes, "late" is now a month):

[polldaddy poll=7760633]

New Answers to Old Questions

I just celebrated my three-year anniversary as a Vice President for Enrollment Management (thank you, thank you). I have had ups, I have had downs. I have had my fair share of fun and a handful of memorable feuds (en-garde!). Above all else, I have learned a lot. Sure, it has been a steep and accelerated learning curve but I had higher education pegged for just that very early in my career. It has been an exciting, worthwhile ride that I don’t want to stop any time soon.

Maybe it was the anniversary, or yet another snow day in New Jersey, but I started thinking about what I would have done differently if given the chance. For the answer, I kept harkening back to my Boy Scout (okay, Cub Scout… wait, did I make it to Webelo?) days – Be Prepared.

My biggest adjustment was in assessment and, even more specifically, budget justification. In this age of assessment it is more important than ever to own it; own your shop, own your data, and know how to move the needle when needed. I started thinking about how I could relay these thoughts to new or aspiring Enrollment Managers in a relatively concise manner. This is what I came up with.

I will take New Answers to Old EM Questions for $1,000, Alex (Williams):

Question: How effective and efficient is your recruitment strategy?

What it means to you: What is the cost of recruiting a single student?

What is the ratio of new students enrolled to full-time recruitment staff?

An Enrollment Management operation is extremely complex; hiring and training, travel, advertising, printing, social media, postage, name buys, and systems development and maintenance are just some of your responsibilities. What isn’t complex is your charge: recruit and retain the right students for your college or university.

One way to assess your operation is to compare your input and output against other institutions. The 2013 Cost of Recruiting an Undergraduate Student Report from Noel Levitz is a great resource for formulas and invaluable benchmarking data. If you think you would be more effective with more recruitment staff, have the numbers to back it up. Once you are comfortable with the big picture; break costs and ratios out by specific student populations like in-state, out-of-state, international, freshmen, transfers, and any subset in between.

Question: What are your retention and graduation rates?

What it means to you: What are your retention and graduation rates? (See what I did there?)

Are your retention and graduation rates appropriate?

Quoting and explaining retention and graduation rates is one of the more straightforward jobs of an Enrollment Manager. (Note: As to not derail my current stream of consciousness, I will save my speech about how retention and graduation rates are currently calculated for another time. Writing that post will require a fireplace, a smoking jacket, and a glass of fine sherry.) The rule of thumb here is to assume whoever you are speaking with knows your retention and graduation rates and you are being tested against College Navigator figures. Straight and to the point.

On the other hand, predicting expected retention and graduation rates based on the types of students institutions enroll rather than national averages is both a novel idea and brilliantly higher ed. The Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) has produced a nice study that allows schools to compare actual and predicted retention and graduation rates. Essentially, the strategy applied by HERI expands the traditional set-list of variables used to project college success by adding more personal characteristics and indicators. For instance, were you the first college choice for a student? Do they intend to graduate from your institution? Do they have to work full-time while in school? Pretty important stuff.

Question: Who are your competitors?

What it means to you: Who do you compete with directly?

Who do you aspire to be like?

The Admission Office can most likely tell you where most of your accepted, declined offer students will be enrolling this fall. You also have the National Student Clearinghouse to determine where your withdrawn sophomores ended up. While this is great information, it only tells half the story. Create peer and aspirant lists to help determine who you are and where you want to go. Several institutions, like Coastal Carolina University and University of West Florida, have made this information public but most use these lists for internal, strategic planning purposes.

I suppose there are varying levels of aspiration. Big picture aspirations may include things like academic profile, programs offered, number of full-time faculty, facilities, and endowment but I tend to think smaller. Who is successfully recruiting regionally on a local budget? Who is incorporating free design and content improvements to their website? Who is leveraging institutional and gift aid most effectively? Am I laying the theme on thick enough?

Well, we reached an abrupt end to a relatively concise post so let's keep the chatter going. What are some other vital questions or topics for up-and-coming Enrollment Management professionals? Own it.

Providing the Why

I’m not a quitter. There are very few things in my life that I’ve actually started and not finished, and I’m pretty hard on myself when it comes to both personal and professional deadlines.

But this week I quit the Big Data in Education MOOC. I dropped out. And through these last few weeks I learned a few VERY valuable points about retention.

To be clear, I didn’t drop out because the content was too hard or too difficult to understand.  I didn’t drop out because I couldn’t stand the professor’s voice. Most certainly, I didn’t drop out because I thought the information wasn’t valuable.

I dropped out because I wasn’t learning.

To give you an overview, the course was structured to release ~six sessions (~10 minutes each) once a week…on Thursdays, conveniently my favorite day of the week. Most sessions had mini-exercises or tasks to complete in RapidMiner. At the end of each part of the course there was a quiz. You could take it a total of 5 times to pass. For the record, I passed both week one and two with 100%.

But I wasn’t learning.

learnI enrolled in the course to gain a better grasp on the WHY part of data. Why do we look at data and why do we care?  Continuing, I wanted to know why we build models in a certain manner and why we choose specific functions. I learned a decent amount of this in my MBA program, but have never built models in a system. From the description of the course, I assumed these “whys” would be covered.

Instead, I found myself mimicking the professor’s movements in RapidMiner, typing exactly what he did, and of course, finding myself able to get the answers. When it came to the tests, I attempted the questions first without notes and the second time with them. I found that I got relatively similar scores. I had memorized the path, but I didn’t know how I got started on it or where it was leading. I have an excellent memory that I attribute to 14 years of piano lessons.

But memorization doesn’t answer the “why” I was searching for. 

I looked to the forums for guidance and additional readings and information. That’s one of the biggest benefits of MOOCs, right? The ability to learn from others. Instead, I found others like myself (aside from the occasional expert whose explanations only left me more perplexed), questioning the reasoning behind the models.

Regardless, here’s what I’ve learned about retention for MOOCs (and any course really):

  • You have to provide the why. The ability to reason is what sets our species apart from all others. If I don’t know why I’m building a model a certain way, it’s meaningless to me. Always start a course with theory (I know many will disagree) to provide a foundation for the how.
  • Content engagement is key. To be fair, I could have been more involved in the forums, and I missed the office hours due to work responsibilities. But, the way in which the content was presented wasn’t engaging in itself.
  • Provide information that connects to the real world. This jumps back to theory. How has the concept been used in practice? In business school we weren’t just given cases to read. We used those cases and worked through them on our own, comparing our results and solutions to those actually reached.
  • Overall engagement. You have to be approachable. This really isn’t feasible for a professor with 1000s of students all over the world. So, I’m not sure I really have a solution here.

I’m just one person and I know we all learn differently. What I did learn in this MOOC (and what I haven’t from other online courses I’ve taken) is how my learning style is defined online. I know now exactly what I need and have a better foundation to approach future courses.

I’m interested to hear what others’ experiences were/are with this class or any other online courses you’ve taken.