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.

#EMchat - #ProDev for EM and School Counseling Pros

The role of #EMchat--since the beginning--has been to provide a structured platform to discuss hot topics in higher education enrollment management. While each  moderator has their (our) own opinions, we try to guide a conversation that is open to all sides of the topic. I'd like to think that we were successful in facilitating that last night.

Heated debates are fantastic. Twitter is a sounding board for professionals who are truly passionate about their careers and industry. #EMchat, #SAchat, #FAchat, #SCcrowd, #SCchat, #HESM -- These are all communities where you see thought leaders even more. And typically, you also see more divisive opinions. That's the world of education. That's how it is.

But here's what I took away from the chat last night. NO ONE is serving students or setting a positive example for young professionals when we place blame on a whole sector of an industry (both sides)  instead of collaboratively working toward a goal.

You typically see conversations centered around professionalism and identity more in the #SAchat realm. We've never had an actual #EMchat on it. I like a debate. In fact, I love a debate. I work on Capitol Hill. What I don't like is name calling, generalizations about professionals (or anyone, really), or diminishing the role of someone--or group of people--with sweeping, juvenile statements. BOTH sides were guilty of this last night. Some people handled it well and some didn't.

Basically, that's not what #EMchat is about. We facilitate. We network. We learn from one another. I took away some great points from the chat last night, and I think there are topics that can definitely be expanded on in future chats. But I also took away a sick feeling that I somehow contributed to promulgating a highly negative conversation between two professional career tracks that I greatly value.

I'm sure we'll see more #SCcrowd and #SCchat chats on professional development opportunities for school counselors. We're discussing the EM career path with NACAC directly in December. I encourage everyone to check it out.

Here's a little background on the High School Counselor Challenge:

https://twitter.com/AlexMWilliams_/status/530540564417363968

And here's the link for the transcript!

-Alex

Coming in for a landing: Helicopter parents and the admissions process

Ashley Gunn currently works as an admissions counselor with the University of Vermont admissions team. In her role, she manages the student recruitment for Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey. She also works on the Diversity admissions staff and supports on-campus programs and events for prospective students from underrepresented groups. Ashley received her Masters in Education from the University of Vermont and her Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of Florida. She currently lives in Burlington, Vermont with the best dog in the world.

Helicopter parents.

You can almost guarantee that bringing up this term among a group of college admissions officers will bring you a fair share of eye rolls and horror stories. Before transitioning into the field of enrollment management, I worked in the field of student affairs. My career focus was on developing the mind, body and souls of eager college students. As you can imagine, our field was becoming increasingly concerned about the emergence of parents who were so ensconced in their parental roles that they were supplanting their students place in the developmental experience of college. Calling professors to argue about grades, showing up on campus to wash their students’ clothes, stepping in at any sign of discomfort or distress in a way that was seriously hampering our ability to develop college students into independent and able people. As I began my transition into my role as an admissions counselor, veteran professionals began to prepare me for dealing with the notorious helicopter parents that would I would surely encounter. However, after almost a year in my position my negative feelings and judgments towards parents during the admissions process have all but dissipated. In its place is a growing sense of compassion, endearment and respect for the role that parents and families can play in this process.

Long heralded as the villains, helicopter parents are, more often than not, an admissions officer’s best friend. Unlike the college years when a student is transitioning into an adult with adult expectations and responsibilities, the admissions process occurs at a time when a student is on the cusp of adulthood but still in the midst of adolescence. Additionally, parents play a much more central role in this process because 1. They can sometimes know their students better than they know themselves 2. They tend to lead the charge with both their organization and funding of trips to visit colleges and 3. As college costs rise, deciding where to go often becomes a family decision. I’ve found that high school students are very able and many are focused enough to make an informed decision about what college they want to attend but most students are lost, anxious and confused and eager for guidance that needs to come from someone other than the admissions counselor they met for 10 minutes at a college fair.

I admit that when I answer the phone or open an email and notice it’s from a parent I cringe a little. I can’t help but wonder what the student is thinking and how , if at all, the parent is supporting this student to be more involved in their college search process. But after engaging with parents I come away understanding that parents and families have just as many concerns as prospective students. They are trying to find a place in a process that ends with them taking on a very different role in their child’s life then they one they have assumed for the past 18 years. Sometimes the anxiety they unknowingly give to their child is an expression of their own desire to find a place for their student that will provide them the security and foundation for success that they have been responsible for.

It’s obvious to me that parents feel somewhat guilty or ashamed of inserting themselves into their child’s college selection process. As they awkwardly try to push their child to ask more questions, or pretend to be their child over the phone or through email I have wondered about more productive and helpful ways admissions offices can find a place for parents and families to ask their questions and ease their anxieties. Creating a “space” for parents and families in the admissions process helps admissions offices, parents and students who desperately want their dad to stop asking questions about “frat” parties during an information session. Research on helicopter parents has shown that they tend to be highly educated meaning this isn’t their first rodeo. In the back of their mind is the college experience (the good and the bad) and they have more nuanced questions that student may not know to ask.

Through the power of google, I found a few colleges who seem to be providing the right kind of space for parents and families to be involved in the college admissions process:

University of Virginia: http://www.admission.virginia.edu/parents

I like the way UVA outlines information for parents in an accessible way. Nothing is more frustrating than having a question and trying to navigate some schools labyrinth like website to locate it. I often get questions from parents about how their students will be advised and what activities they will be able to participate in. UVA presents that information clearly and in one location.

University of Iowa: http://admissions.uiowa.edu/parents-family

Iowa has a great resource on their Parent and Family section called “Why Iowa.” This whole process is about helping students find the best fit and this resource is given from a parent’s perspective. It outlines all those fun facts parents like to know like outcomes and graduating on time and it does it in one location.

University of Kansas: http://admissions.ku.edu/parents

What KU does right is let parents know that they are an important piece of the process: You’re the expert. They also touch on the issues that are most important for parents and families – price, safety, academic quality and outcomes.

According to the laws of biology, parents, families and prospective students are a packaged deal. How is your institution communicating with them and making creating a safe landing spot for the ever circling “helicopter parents.”

-Ashley

This Week on #EMchat: Enhanced iBooks & New Recruitment Tools

One thing I love about #EMchat is the fact that we get to learn something new each week. We get to see innovative tools in the field and connect with people we may have not known about before. I'm excited to say that one of these companies is Tosler. This week we'll be welcoming Jake Mueller, co-founder and VP to talk about enhanced iBooks and new recruitment tools. We've got a great round of questions planned and are looking forward to seeing what your institutions are using and how your tools have transformed over the last few years. Join in at 9PM ET this Thursday for the conversation! We asked the Tosler team to pull together some thoughts for the post below -- it's a great read!

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The world of College Viewbooks is changing. Prospective students are growing up surrounded by technology. They surf the web, read on their devices, and share their lives, all on mobile. These actions center on digital content. They consume digitally. It’s a foreign concept to us old folks, but it’s their world. When the 1 to 1 program was implemented in LA, Students overrode the social media restrictions built by adults. In one day.

As a result, Higher Ed institutions must shift to digital content to reach the up and coming generation. Producing a digital viewbook is the best way to start. There are currently over 10 million iPads in primary-secondary education, 94% of tablets in education are iPads, and the number of 1 to 1 programs is exploding. Not only are these numbers impressive, they are already outdated as of the writing of this article. Some institutions have turned to mobile apps to fill the digital viewbook role (U of Dayton, U of Chicago). With enhanced iBooks, however, converting to digital is not only more affordable, but it is also quicker than producing/out-sourcing a mobile app. Additionally, using enhanced iBooks provides access to the intuitive and popular iBookstore. Many high school students use the iBookstore already for textbook curriculum and general reading. Thus the tech-savvy college reaches the student on their own turf and displays an important generational awareness.

Typical print publications are expensive, less engaging, and provide no analytics. You print the material, mail it off, and never know how many students open the front page or toss it in the trash. With enhanced iBooks, you receive measures of engagement and measures of downloads. Armed with these analytics, colleges can study the effectiveness of their recruitment campaigns or college fair attendance. Real figures for real ROI.

Ultimately high school students eat, live, breath digital. And if they don’t already, they will be in a year. Every Institution of Higher Learning must meet their recruits on mobile. It’s a fact, not a question. The question is, how? 

Enhanced iBooks.

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.