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.....

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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.

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.

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 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.

#EMchat 53: Searching for Jobs in EM - #TOTN goes to @tracycollum

Our second to last #EMchat of 2012 focused on searching for jobs in enrollment management and we had an amazing chat! It was great to see many #EMchat "regulars" joined by lots of new faces. We managed to fill the hour with everything from social media to mentoring to insider tips and so much more. The transcript for tonight's chat can be found here, but now it's time for our Tweet of the Night (#TOTN)! Tweet of the Night

As always, this task was incredibly challenging tonight, but @tracycollum is taking home the top honors for this tweet about the skills necessary to be successul in EM:

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We also have a special edition of #TOTN Honorable Mentions tonight featuring the amazingness of @JonBoeckenstedt. Jon was tweeting greatness all night, but here's a couple of our favorites:

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Thanks to everyone for joining us tonight and we hope you'll be back next week for our last chat of 2012: Retention: People or Processes? This is also the absolute last call to get in on #EMchat Gives Back, so donate today!

How Higher Education Professionals are using Twitter

When I hear non-twitter users inquiring about why they should use twitter, I often can hear the disdain in their voice.  They think of twitter as a vast wasteland of 140 character messages about what people ate, where they ate and whom they were with.  What many Higher Education professionals do not realize is that by not being an active twitter user they are missing out on a fast network of resources, information sharing and professional development.

As a contributor to a very active twitter community, EMchat, I can firmly tell people that twitter is much more than a place to show off your vacation spot or your gourmet meal.  Twitter is a platform to connect with others.  When Enrollment Management Professionals look for help they can turn to their colleagues. EMchat has a weekly twitter chat (Thursday 9PM ET) where professionals share ideas and learn with each other.

Some of the reasons to use twitter include:

  • Collaboration/Networking – twitter is a great networking tool.  Connect with people you know and find new people with similar interest to connect with. People who have met in the virtual world also have tweetups or in-person gatherings outside of the virtual world (IRL – in real life).
  • Community – people with a special interest like Enrollment Management can share information on topics of mutual interest.
  • Information Gathering – looking for a new CRM or wonder if there is a better way to do something?  Reach out to a twitter community to gather data. You can get multiple responses quickly.
  • Professional Development and Learning – follow leaders in your profession on twitter, keep abreast of current trends and topics in your industry and learn from others and help them back.
  • Training and Development – take part in community chats, attend virtual presentations and share information on twitter and continue to learn through discussions.
  • Socializing – connect with others in the virtual world.  Stay in touch with friends and colleagues across the globe or meet new ones through twitter.

Once you decide to take the plunge and signup and start using twitter, you should consider following a hashtag.  Hashtags provide a way for tweets to be categorized and followed.  There are many hashtags that are in use in Higher Education.  Inside Higher Ed has a twitter directory that contains a vast listing of HE hashtags.

Many people “lurk” when they first join a twitter chat like #EMchat.  I slowly joined in the #EMchat community and added my own insights and ideas.  When I first attended a chat I thought that I would not have anything to contribute.  That could not be further from the truth.  Even if you don’t have first hand knowledge you can contribute – ask questions, find resources online and share them etc.

I now look forward to Thursdays since it is the time that I connect with other professionals who are interested in Enrollment Management.  #EMchat helps me to network, collaborate, follow current trends and socialize with Enrollment Management professionals.  Most of all it allows me to be part of a community.

Follow me on twitter @timdunning and look for me on Thursdays at 9 PM ET on #EMchat.