HBCUs are getting an admissions boost from a top-notch CRM system acquired through a nonprofit initiative to level the playing field in higher ed technology.
CRM, for those who don’t know, stands for customer relationship management, and it can be critical to successful recruitment and enrollment. But due to the cost of some CRM technology, a number of HBCUs were losing ground due to their outdated admissions platforms—in fact, a few were still processing paper applications, says Cecilia Marshall, director of technology strategy for the Partnership for Education Advancement, which works to increase social mobility for students of color.
The nonprofit has generated $3 million in philanthropic support to install the Slate CRM—which was specifically designed for higher ed—at 11 historically black colleges and universities. Additional funding will support two years’ worth of licensing, software, and new staff positions needed to operate the CRM.
The overarching goal is to allow these HBCUs to make admissions decisions faster, which should drive enrollment. “Students who get their decisions faster feel more welcome,” Marshall says.
Slate’s technology can be customized by each HBCU and allows different departments to more efficiently share data, such as which prospective students have visited campus for a tour and who should therefore be more aggressively recruited. And the automation of many other processes gives staff more time for this outreach and other key student-facing tasks, Marshall explains.
Slate’s CRM is also better designed for open access institutions with rolling admissions rather than for the single admissions cycles more common at state flagships and elite institutions, Marshall adds.
The CRM project came about after the nonprofit began researching the biggest administrative needs at HBCUs and looked into using educational technology as a tool for social mobility. HBCUs remain the leaders in fostering the social mobility of Black students, she says.
“It allows institutions to get back to the work of seeing students, which is what HBCUs are all about—they’ve always been community builders,” Marshall concludes. “Now let’s make sure staff can focus on students and not have tech be a hindrance.”