In two short years, Western Iowa Tech Community College upgraded from generic paper-based admissions packets to a personalized packet to online microsites tailored to each prospective student’s needs and interests. Besides achieving higher application rates, the new MyHub program is saving on paper, printing and mailing.
Mailing an inch-thick packet of materials to every potential student was costing the Sioux-based college dearly. On top of the average $5 it cost to print and mail each packet was the lengthy preparation process and the lag time before students received their information, which was sometimes as long as two weeks, says webmaster Wendy S. Ohl.
Concerned about the process’s inefficiency and expense, Ohl began investigating alternative approaches. In 2012, she moved the admissions materials online, creating a PDF brochure that could be personalized with information specific to a prospect’s interests. However, that PDF was being printed and mailed.
So about a year ago, Ohl programmed a digital webpage system in ColdFusion using a MySQL database. Named MyHub, the system allows prospective students to fill out a short form regarding their interests, and generates a dynamic, personalized microsite. On that site, students find program information, required classes, clubs, events, housing, financial aid, a getting started checklist, sports team try-out dates and other facts specific to their situations.
Students also don’t need to wait two weeks to receive a printed packet from admissions. They receive an email almost immediately that includes a link to their personal page, which is regularly updated with new events and class information.
MyHub is saving the college approximately $7,200 a year in printing and mailing costs. And of those students who sign up for a MyHub page, 75 percent to 80 percent apply for admission—a big jump.
“You can see the cause-and-effect,” says Ohl. “You can see who signed up and who applied.” Perhaps thanks in part to the new tool, WITCC has reversed its admissions slump, she says. Ohl credits the whole marketing team with the process’ improved efficiency and effectiveness. “It was a team effort,” she says. “I don’t like change for the sake of change, but I do like it for greater efficiency.”