Digital transformation in higher ed is here. The new generation of students is expecting a more personalized and connected college experience. They are mobile and technology savvy, and expect the same from their institution. Meeting these expectations requires technology that is adaptable to students’ evolving needs and enables the institution to be more agile, connected, engaged and responsive.
This web seminar featured a panel discussion about using technology to engage with the new generation of students, from recruitment through to completion. Panelists discussed how they use technology to foster student engagement and student success across campus, and some strategies for doing the same at any institution.
Director of Admissions
Reinhardt University (Ga.)
Institutional Director of Persistence and Completion
Crown College (Minn.)
Melanie Common: We’re seeing a shift in how students consume higher education. They want a personalized, connected experience. They’re mobile and tech-savvy. They want the processes within the institution to be instantaneous and intuitive. Powering this experience requires technology that will be adaptable to students’ changing needs.
Some trends we’re seeing are:
- There’s greater diversity in high school graduates, so institutions need to evolve their recruiting strategies and personalize their communications.
- Enrollment teams are starting to push communication with the right students at the right time.
- The admissions office is identifying who those students are, and is looking at not only the new students but also transfers.
- Students are discouraged from considering higher education because they don’t see a value in earning a college degree. They’re also hearing media reports of graduates struggling to find adequate employment.
As far as retention trends go, completion rates were falling, but now we’re starting to see some gains, and we are attributing this to schools experimenting with some new approaches. The financial impact of retaining a student is significant—it can cost $5,400 to enroll a student, but saving that student may only be $50.
You need to identify at-risk students and intervene early by implementing the right strategies at the right time, while also satisfying the expectations of the students as well as their families.
Lacey Satterfield: We had some challenges in admissions. I have a pretty small staff. It’s a lot for each counselor to bring in around 80 to 100 students. We have one counselor who has about 700 applicants—there is absolutely no way she can keep up with the manual processes we were doing and get to know her students.
We needed a solution, and we did not have a CRM at the time. So we purchased Jenzabar enrollment, and that’s allowed us to do a few things. One, it’s given us better and smoother communication with students wherever they are in the funnel. I’ve preached to my staff that we’re going to let the technology do the work that it can do, so that we can do the work the technology can’t do. And that’s building relationships with students.
A few ways that Jenzabar enrollment has helped us: It has enhanced communication to our students and parents. The reports and dashboards are fantastic—we can run a student from start to finish through our system now.
Because our system was built on a Salesforce platform, we have that huge, robust user community that can answer almost anything that I can’t figure out on my own. We’ve also found a lot of support from other Jenzabar schools.
Patty Pitts: A number of years ago, we were coming to our midpoint accreditation visit with HLC, and the cabinet decided that persistence and completion was going to be the quality improvement initiative for our accreditation. That commitment became our Persistence and Completion Project. It had five strategies in it, and one of the strategies was Jenzabar.
Jenzabar Retention has two parts that we use: the early alert system and predictive analysis. We put some intentional strategies into what we would do to keep our at-risk students here, strategies that were identified by our model. We made sure to collect data and do a good job analyzing it. And probably the most important thing we’ve done is to put some intentionality into making sure that our campus was a caring campus.
With our freshman model, we can predict students coming in who may be at risk and we can put things in place to provide the tools and support they need. What we’re planning on doing in the future is to continue to analyze and evaluate our efforts so we can increase how responsive we are to the early alerts, and to continue to cultivate that culture of care on campus to ensure that students know we’re going to walk alongside them and provide the support they need.
To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please visit UBmag.me/ws042519