How do YOU exceed annual enrollment goals? The “trick” is YOU don’t!
I’m about to give you the exact approach that helped me increase Net Tuition Revenue by 14% in one recruitment cycle.
The keyword is synergy—the cooperation of two or more agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.
More simply put: Get help!
I’ve sat in the Chief Enrollment Officer seat long enough to understand the pressure. Colleagues across campus would often tell me how thankful they were not to have my job! If you’re reading this, my guess is you have heard that a time or two.
Nothing relieved that pressure and stress more than knowing I was not in it alone.
I played team sports all the way through college. Sure, it comes down to you in certain situations to make a big decision (or a big play), but in most situations, “the team” has a larger impact on the wins and losses.
So, what does it take to get there?
Humility, self-awareness, and genuinely caring for people are essential when applying a synergistic enrollment management approach.
Realizing YOU can’t do it all is actually a great feeling.
Next, identifying the potential in others around you is an ability the best enrollment leaders display. I like to call them “wizards.” They stand out because they are so good; it’s like watching magic when they work! I could take a spreadsheet to my colleague Todd, and with an hour of (sometimes heated) “discussion,” he could tell the story of those 50 rows of data with a single image! That made board reports so much more engaging.
Lastly, investing deeply in those relationships will yield amazing results far greater than what you could accomplish alone. This last step is where genuinely caring about people comes into play.
At enrollmentFUEL, being genuine is one of our core values. Understanding “people recruit people” is a simple concept that can easily be lost in the world of big data, automation, and artificial intelligence.
Let’s look at a couple of examples that can make this idea more practical.
Thankfully, the collaborative and synergistic approach to enrollment management was modeled for me early in my career. My first VP for Enrollment reminded me often that people are the most important resource.
I saw her create relationships across campus that connected offices and people who previously had no open lines of communication. These relationships went far beyond working relationships. I’m talking about real genuine friendships—like going bowling after work and hanging out on a weekend.
Observing gaps in communication and collaboration in this situation meant creating a committee of key administrators. I’m fully aware that creating a committee doesn’t always sit well with folks across campus, but when it’s needed, be bold and do it!
A word of encouragement: creating a committee goes a lot better when two things happen. One, you’ve invested time in building relationships with those who are part of the committee (there is buy-in from the right people). Two, you’ve done the communicating up-front to identify the need for creating the committee with each member involved.
Following in the footsteps of my first VP, I took it upon myself to intentionally schedule time to invest in relationships outside of my department. I got to know folks in IT, marketing, communications, faculty, and athletics.
And while it may seem counterintuitive to divert time away from the immediate enrollment needs and invest it in relationships across campus, I promise you’ll see a return on that investment.
Look at it this way, that report you know you need to look at will be accessible at 7:30 AM and at 5:30 PM. The folks in key roles across campus may not be!
Realizing you can’t do everything internally is a humbling, yet freeing, feeling.
A couple of years ago, the institution I worked for was able to break all kinds of new student records. Increasing net tuition revenue by 14% from the previous year was huge! I know that wouldn’t have been possible without the help of others, both inside and outside the institution.
Selecting a partner or vendor for help goes a lot better when other department leaders on campus are educated about enrollment goals, are part of the process, and trust you.
Have you ever jumped the gun and started down a path with a vendor and neglected to loop in key folks from the IT department? I know I have!
Here is a goal to shoot for: imagine having leaders from across campus bringing great enrollment solutions to you, including ones that may have never crossed your mind. Everyone feels comfortable talking to you and cares about meeting enrollment goals. That’s synergistic enrollment management at its finest!
At FUEL, we are spirit-filled. It’s another one of our core values. We celebrate successes! We also strive to be a teaching organization. So, let me share an important list of practical checkpoints that helped us meet our enrollment and NTR goals. How many are you doing?
- Establish an Enrollment Management Committee (and make sure key decision-makers are active and participating).
- Develop a Strategic Enrollment Management Plan that is comprehensive in nature, realistic, and time-bound.
- Review key performance indicators from previous cycles to set simple and transparent financial aid packaging policies and procedures. Simple and transparent is a win/win. Your marketing and communication staff, enrollment staff, and prospective families will appreciate a simple and transparent aid structure!
- Set up an internal review process for issues that fall outside your packaging philosophy. Those will happen!
- Set up live reports (or as close to live as you can get) to track discount rate, NTR, and other KPIs. The more granular, the better. This is a heavy lift but well worth it.
- Use the data! Check it daily to make sure your institution is tracking in line with the annual goals that are set in your Strategic Enrollment Plan.
- Celebrate the wins with as many people as you can along the way. Your team and friends across campus will appreciate this and feel as if they are part of the success! When they are recognized for their contributions, the ideas will keep flowing forth. Otherwise, good ideas evaporate with a “why bother” mentality.
One thing I have been guilty of in the past is moving on to the next task and not pausing to celebrate success. I encourage you to take the extra three minutes, give yourself and your team some praise, and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear examples of how utilizing synergy and collaboration has helped you and your enrollment team meet your goals.
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