Welcome 2020: Plan for Success In the Year Ahead

Month: January 2020

Steve KergeBy Steve Kerge|January 24, 2020

By Bill Sliwa and Steve Kerge

Happy New Year, readers. As we enter the modern-day “roaring twenties,” we’d like to begin the year with two related topics:

  • Using lessons of the past to navigate the current and future landscape
  • How setting goals — not making resolutions — will make you a better enrollment manager

For a better future, learn from the past.

As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20 (OK, we couldn’t resist). Though the proverb is always true, we still think that the start of 2020 presents the ideal opportunity for admissions professionals like yourself to look back at the challenges of the past and collaborate with your team (and trusted strategic partners) to figure out some solutions that will help you avoid repeating your biggest enrollment management mishaps for the balance of the 2019–20 cycle and beyond.

Take a moment to reflect and consider the macro-forces that have positively and negatively impacted your new student enrollments over the last five years. Those factors may include:

  • The economy
  • Demographic shifts
  • Perception of college affordability
  • Institutional/internal roadblocks
  • New academic program(s)
  • Athletic teams
  • Perception that liberal arts programs may not be career focused
  • Fierce competition (waitlisting and repackaging)
  • Institutional brand/marketing

If any of these factors are preventing you from meeting your enrollment goals, now is the time to correct course by reevaluating your strategy, strengthening your programs, and updating your marketing materials. (If you could use a fresh perspective, feel free to reach out. We’d be happy to help you toss around some ideas.)

One guarantee we will make: If you continue to conduct the exact same activity year after year, you should not expect to see very different results.

Make Goals, Not Resolutions

While this certainly is the season for new year’s resolutions, we believe that too many people fail to achieve what they set out to accomplish because they are making resolutions instead of setting goals. A resolution is a firm decision to do or not do something moving forward, while a goal is a specific destination.

For example, it is so easy to say “I’m going to get in better shape this year” or “I’m going to eat better,” but what does that mean and how will you measure that? If you wish to get in “better” shape, you’ll need to ask yourself what that looks like, evaluate your baseline fitness, and determine where you want to be by December 31. Once you know those answers, you can set a goal, not make a resolution.

This distinction matters because once you set a goal, you can develop a realistic path to achieve your desired result. To continue with the fitness analogy: you can say “I am going to walk a minimum of 10 miles a week this year,” and then you can measure your progress and adjust course as needed throughout the year. You can also make a point to schedule time on your calendar to walk each day — when you schedule something, there’s a much better chance you’ll actually do it.

The same logic applies for colleges and universities that aren’t enrolling the number of students they wish to enroll. You’ll set yourself up for failure if you simply resolve to “enroll more students,” without establishing measurable metrics or scheduling plans to execute on it regularly.

We challenge you to be a stronger enrollment manager in 2020 by being consistently data-driven and taking a formulaic approach. If you are not sure how, feel free to reach out to us. We’ll be happy to show you some proven methods.

We will leave you with one closing thought: Those enrollment managers who commit to being data-driven will succeed at their jobs. Consider forming a data unit on your campus as part of your overall strategic enrollment planning team. You can likely tap into some already established resources — institutional effectiveness and research, the registrar, and perhaps some faculty from across mathematics and the sciences — to create measurable indicators of your goals and objectives that will help you get better at bringing in new classes and retaining those students. You have an incredibly rich data set you can harness. Make it a priority to do so in this new decade.

Guest Post: It’s Time For Colleges to Boost In-House Video Production Resources

Month: January 2020

Spark451 Media RelationsBy Spark451 Media Relations|January 9, 2020

A steady stream of fresh, engaging video content is critical for keeping prospective Gen Z students engaged with your college or university’s brand.

In a recent guest article for The Cutaway, a digital magazine for media and advertising production professionals, Spark451 Principal Mike McGetrick detailed why institutions must invest in in-house video production resources in order to meet that demand.

Check out the article for Mike’s insights on why high-quality video matters so much to today’s teens and to learn how you can deliver compelling personalized video content that will resonate with prospective students. Then, reach out to us so we can help you determine how to maximize your video marketing efforts.