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Episode 16—Managing the Student Journey from Prospects to Alumni, Pt 2



 

Enrollment leaders are charged, first and foremost, with bringing in the new incoming student class. Many also add retention services to their responsibility. But few are given the task of managing the student journey from prospect to alumni like our two guests, Mr. Joe Montgomery and Dr. Juan Alexander. In this two-part series we will discuss the challenges and the advantages of enrollment carrying the responsibility for the student experience from the moment a student inquires into the college, through the student years, and into the ongoing relationship an alum has with their alma mater. 

About Dr. Juan Alexander
Dr. Juan Alexander is the currently serves as the Associate Vice-President of Enrollment Management at Norfolk State University. In this role he oversees all of the university’s enrollment management offices to include: Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment, Transfer Admission and Services, Financial Aid, Registrar, New Student Orientation and Graduate Recruitment. Prior to coming to NSU, Dr. Alexander has had the pleasure of overseeing admissions and recruitment at Savannah State University, Kentucky State University, Wilberforce University and Alabama A&M University. Also, at Old Dominion University he served as a Site Director for the university’s distance education program. His more than 15 years of higher education experience includes enrollment management, distance education, academic advising, and alumni affairs. He has also worked in K12. As an enrollment management leader, he has spent his career applying his expertise and innovation to streamline admissions processing, increasing enrollment, creating marketing strategies, and implementing technology to support and enhance admissions and recruitment initiatives.

He earned his doctorate from Creighton University in Educational Leadership and holds two degrees from Norfolk State University: a Bachelor’s in Mass Communications, with a concentration in Public Relations, and a Masters of Arts in Teaching.

About Mr. Joseph Montgomery
For over 20-years, Mr. Joseph Montgomery has been a noteworthy leader in the college admissions/enrollment space. He has experience with admission work at HBCUs and Private Selective Colleges throughout the United States' southeastern region. Before joining Tuskegee University, he spent 6-years at the College Board as Director, Higher Education Services advising chief enrollment officers at universities throughout the south on matters relating to admissions, financial aid, registration, and student success indicators. Beyond servicing as the Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Success at Tuskegee University, he serves on the Education Finance Institute Advisory Board that focuses on strengthen mission-focused colleges and universities that primarily serve low-income, first-generation, and minority students. Lastly, he was selected to serve on the National Association College Admissions Counseling – Commission on Redesigning the College Admission and Financial Aid Through a Racial Equity Lens. The panel will examine the college entrance pipeline, postsecondary financial aid requirements, and the role of racial equity in postsecondary enrollment. He holds Bachelor's Degree from Voorhees College (HBCU) and a Master's Degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (HBCU) and currently resides in Blacksburg, VA and Tuskegee, AL.   

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Jay Fedje: Welcome to the Enrollment Edge Podcast for college enrollment and marketing leaders. I'm your host Jay Fedje, Enrollment Edge is sponsored by enrollmentFUEL, a trusted full-service student search and marketing partner to colleges and universities across the country. If you'd like to learn more about enrollment tool services or you have questions about today's episode we've included a link to our website in the show notes. You can also email us at edge@enrollmentfuel.com we'd love to hear what you think you can help us by subscribing to our podcast, sharing it with your friends and leaving a five-star review on apple podcasts.

 

Today, once again, I'm talking with Dr. Juan Alexander, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management at Norfolk State University and Mr. Joseph Montgomery, Vice President of enrollment management and student success at Tuskegee University, we're continuing our discussion on the subject of managing the student journey from prospect to alumni and we're gonna jump right back into our conversation. It's interesting, Joe, as you talk about the focus on you know, maybe the margins have gone away from mentality of with enrollment managers, we've got to focus so much more intently intentionally on that one student and working on yield working on conversion of students not necessarily volume, but quality. So you're so there's fit, there's so you don't want to you don't want to lose any students through the cracks. So you can't, you know, schools can't afford to lose students in the cracks anywhere they can't afford to, you know, admissions counselors, as I think about admissions offices, you can't afford to have admissions, counselors just running around traveling, and not paying attention to their, their prospect or their application pool or their enrollment pool. So there's a there's a real sense, I think, or a resurgence of a holding hands mentality, I'm gonna use my air quotes here, you know, so you can see that it holding hands of that student, and then the appearance of that student, frankly, through the process. So every step along the way, did you get your application in? Did you get it done? Did you get your references into each test? And whatever the application process is, there's that one process and operating process of becoming a student but then there's the rest of it. Have you registered for classes? What have you completed in your financial aid process? Did you get all your health records and you know, I mean, it's on the housing forums, it's, there's so much and as guidance offices were closed, because of COVID, there was a lot less hand holding on the other side, I think, in that really put the onus on you guys, you guys and your teams needed to grab a hold of those prospective students, and walk with them through all the processes that you're kind of relying on guidance offices to do probably in the past, but to do that has some positives and negatives to it, doesn't it?

 

[00:03:28] Joseph Montgomery: It absolutely has positive negatives, but I don't know what our world would have been Jay, if we had not installed technology to help us, you know, sure, want to talk to about infrastructure stuff, we we install a CRM, that allows us to not just hold the hands of folks as we find them in dark but we're able to really identify the kinds of folks that are our that truly need us to hold their hand by being able to use on data from many different data sources, to really help us understand who are the students in our pool of candidates that really need us to walk them through that next the next door because for whatever reason, they just can't find the appropriate door to walk through. So my team and I, we've made ourselves readily available to certain groups of students in our paid, deposited students. They all have opportunities to meet with the Vice President for Enrollment Management and student success 15 minutes at a time, one on one with their merits and we answer questions in this kind of rapid fire and it provides this level of satisfaction that I underestimated when the recommendation was made. The recommendation was made that we do this and I kind of was like, Oh, I'm gonna participate but it was only because of My team was asking me to participate, not because I really kind of like I really believed in it. I was like, send him an email on their own. send him an email with all the links, right? Yeah and whatever reason, the replacement of this personal contact through zoom, yeah, in this one on one environment is almost like having someone sit in the office and having a 15 minute conversation and you kind of see the anxiety levels go down. Yeah, right, as you're on the call with them and it's absolutely amazing. So those are, that's just one example of using our CRM to identify students and their touch points. So we start this with students who were paid deposits, that we only identified had three touch points. So what we wanted to do is increase the number of touch points. Sure, and I want I want touch points to get to 12 to 15 touch points, before they actually enrollment date. So out of all of our pay deposit students, I would like for them to average this 12 to 15 touch point with our offices.

 

[00:06:12] Jay Fedje: Now, some of those would be just messages, and some of them would actually be I would consider kind of bringing that student along, you know, kind of putting your arm around them and, and just walking him through the process. Juan, did you? Did you change some of those, some of those practices that you had to carefully walk students through this or was it isn't so.

 

[00:06:33] Dr. Juan Alexander: Similar to Joe in terms of the technology piece, what we, what we've been able to do, and what we're doing, and what we even have tonight, is we have several Admitted Student, parent sessions. For the families who want to communicate with us, we typically have it between 6:30 and 8:30 in the evening, we actually have one tonight, and we open it up to all of our admitted students, whether they have the positive or not and the good thing for us, you know, to Joe's point, in terms of the anxiety level, particularly, as we maneuver through this COVID environment, which hopefully, to some degree is coming to a close, it has eased the anxiety levels of a lot of families, particularly as it relates to, you know, the questions around vaccinations, the questions around the number of cases on campus, what are we doing to prevent certain things and how are we putting certain measures in place, things of that nature, as well as the financial aid process? You know, during this time, you know, many families have lost their jobs. How can we help you all maneuver through this process, you know, asking questions and asking questions, like, what are professional judgments? You know, how do we go about doing that with financial aid, and the interesting thing is, for students who haven't deposited who have attended our sessions, I know, we've had about 15 to 20 that have actually made the decision to attend. So for us, even though we have a lot of our deposited students who attend these sessions, we've have students that are still in the pool making their decisions, and as a result, you know, this has been basically the determining factor to say, Hey, you know, what, this really has helped me out, right? You know, and families have come and said, Hey, we're gonna make Norfolk State the school of choice, you know, just being on this session, you know, so it has helped us out tremendously.

 

[00:08:45] Jay Fedje: Well, I think I think it actually meets the needs of that family, doesn't it? Yeah and when you allow the opportunity to ask the questions, and allow families the opportunity to be vulnerable, or that you allow them the opportunity to drop their anxiety, you're giving him a moment to figure things out.

 

[00:09:08] Dr. Juan Alexander: Particularly we serve about 44% first generation students. So you know, that's, that's another thing. You know dealing with first gen students.

 

[00:09:20] Jay Fedje: That that brings up a really good point to the fact that we've got two enrollment offices that have identified student need coming in whether it's the family anxiety, but so much has shifted this year, whether parents jobs are shifted, and now they're different, whether they're unemployed, the anxiety around the health and the decision making of the university around health issues. There's so many new factors involved at a greater level that you've seen sounds like you both pivoted to make adjustments so that you could directly address those moments that tie that space in time. So my question is this, now moving those students into second year and third year and fourth year? Do you have in place, the same kind of student, direct intentional student engagement, and then next year, that you do going into that first year? If not will students feel like where's my support system where's the 15 minutes with Joe Montgomery from last year I need that, where's my admitted student session with him and his crew.

 

[00:10:43] Dr. Juan Alexander: So I think for me, on our end, what we're doing is, you know, our philosophy and mentality has always been, and it's just happened this way, where the students that we, that the staff and myself have developed, you know, through this recruitment process, once the student decides to enroll, that relationship begins. So if there is an issue, you know, they can always come to myself or anybody in enrollment management, specifically the admissions team, to say I need help with this, can you help me navigate through this process, and we can always for the most part, about 98% of the time, we can successfully navigate the student through the process, whether it's how do I handle this situation with financial aid? How do I handle this situation with the professor? Who do I need to talk to about this major thing of that nature, right but from where I sit, what I'm trying to do again, it goes back to the data and saying, how can we permanently put things in place, so that students may not necessarily have to come back to us for the support? The sort the support will be there intentionally not to say that the support isn't there but I think there's a level of intentionality that may not be there, but there's an opportunity to create it.  Which is from where I sit as an enrollment manager one of the things that I'm trying to do through the use of data. It's about changing the culture, and how we think about doing the things that we do.

 

[00:12:38] Jay Fedje: Joe, how do you that second, third year of the student fill the gap that they had the year before, where there was always somebody there to help them?

 

[00:12:50] Joseph Montgomery:  So that is a challenge Jay, on our campus, but there's a plan. So let's kind of talk about what is today and then where we're going?  So today what happens is that I identify students who have roadblocks after their freshman year by looking for some of the obvious things like, are we preventing a student from re registering because they haven't finished paying their bill and so we worked with institutional advancement, to essentially raise about $600,000 to $700,000 per semester, to help us mitigate those types of challenges on the back end side of the semester. So essentially, I just unloaded about $700,000, to cover prior balances, that then now opens up the opportunity for the students to register for classes for their fall. So one of the things that's kind of like they have now deemed me to be the magic guy in the background, making magic happen on their behalf. You're awesome and so the other part is effectively communicating with faculty and so what we did was we created a communication plan just for faculty members, our faculty advisors,  our department chairs and assistant department chairs are probably the primary academic advisors for students in each major and so what we do is we give them a percentile, rate 25% of your students who are eligible to return currently have classes in the system, which means that we now have 75% of students in your academic discipline that haven't  registered for classes this fall. So the first step is to clear all the balances to make certain that they can come back and then the second step is to make a notification to each of the academic advisors around the percentile of their students to have re-registered for the upcoming semester and what we've learned is that as these faculty members reach out to their advisor we then begin to see an uptick in registration, because they're hearing directly from their faculty advisor, that it's time for you to go and select your courses and what they learn is when they go into register that the roadblock that they may have experienced early into semester is no longer there. So that's number two. The third thing that we're looking at, and we're measuring against Jay is looking at student performance in the classroom and so we send the early warning signs around students who look like they could be in jeopardy of losing title for aid through the sap review process. So if you're skirting close, and yet you get beyond that, we still send you a letter of notification saying, hey, you're dangerously close to losing your title for aid and here's what this means in your scenario based upon the aid that you've already received in the prior academic year. So we want them to see and feel the significance of what it may mean that they lose title for funding and then the last thing that I've done in the background is change our institutional scholarship retention policy. This policy was really driven to get students into the front door and then only stressed them through their first year on the campus, because you had to obtain 15 hours on average 15 hours per semester with a minimum GPA requirement at the end of the freshman year. So essentially, what I've done is I've allowed them to retain the scholarship through two academic cycles. So it gives them an opportunity to kind of relax a little bit around academic performance to ensure that they are continuing to meet the scholarship requirements. So those are kind of the things that we've done in the background at this point and we're actively doing those things, this upcoming academic calendar, under the new budget I will have the ability to hire a first year to second year experience coordinator, and a third year to fourth year experience coordinator. These coordinators will then be digging deeper into the kinds of high DFW courses that are unrelated to math 107 because we got this clear understanding about math 107 but what does it look like in chemistry? What does it look like in physics? Are there areas in computer science? Are there areas across the academy that we can identify that may not be for all students because it's not a Gen Ed cores, but it actually may be high DFW cores for a particular major. So we'll be looking deeper into those types of courses with these professionals that I'm going to hire, and then also create what we want their experience to be in their first year, in the second year, and each year that they're at the university.

 

[00:18:24] Jay Fedje:  So I want to hear from both you guys here, there's a number of risk factors that you both have talked about in terms of identification of matriculation if the student is a risk student or not a risk student, but it seems like outside of that, you mean there's there's this identification of math and the identification of language skills, or writing skills or whatever that would be that your school is deemed yeah, these are really important. There's life skills that I would call operations of being a student and you've touched on both of those a little bit, but I want to hear more about what it is that you're doing to ensure that Joe, as you as you put it, the faculty are actually getting a hold of that student and the student is responding to them. I've been at institutions where my gosh, literally you faculty would stand in front of their dorm room and wait for them to arrive because they just didn't know what was important or they didn't answer. It's a skill that they just didn't communicate well but there are critical roadblocks, I think in operating as a student registration, financial aid, the meal plans figuring out your bills, you know that the parents seem to be a step or two removed so it's on the student and first generation students, they're looking at this going this is something I've not done before, my parents haven't done this before and I need a guide to walk me through this from year to year. Not math, not language I'm a good writer, I'm good at those academic skills, but it's these other things that get in the way that suddenly derail my momentum to graduation.? How do you guys manage the operation problems of being a student.

 

[00:20:29] Dr. Juan Alexander: So one of the things that we do here, we have what we call sim courses, it's a seminar course which are like introductory courses for the institution and in those courses, they talk about financial planning, navigating through the college process from a social standpoint, conflict resolution, and we have various faculty members, but also administrators from various offices that teach those courses. For example, coping skills, the whole issue around mental illness, we also actually have a counselor, our Director of Counseling Services, who actually teaches a seminar course, right before the semester, that talks about those things. We also have somebody that talks about financial planning, what does it mean to plan, understanding student loan debt, things of that nature and then we have in our Advising Center, which we call the Student Success Center, where our freshmen and sophomore students are advised, we have academic advisors that mainly advise from an academic component, but there's also some intrusive advisement as it relates to navigating through the college process in terms of being a student. So here at the university, those are the two avenues that we're doing here to help students go through that process of just being a person.

[00:22:12] Jay Fedje: Joe, what were the things you guys have?

 

[00:22:14] Joseph Montgomery:  So we actually have a tool that allows faculty members and particular care groups to be able to qualify the risk factor of behaviors that students exhibit so let's say for instance, a student goes to counseling services, counseling services meets with a student, they don't necessarily share with us exactly what's happening in the session, but they may say, Hey, we're, we're highly concerned about the student. So it creates a higher risk factor, we can see that is coming from counseling services, which then kicks up the risk factor for that student in our model. It may be that we see a student who's supposed to be going to class attending classes three days a week, and they only shown up one day a week, but yet they're performing well on the exams, but they're not participatory in the way that we want them to. We had about 10%, almost 11% of our students not eating in the dining facility and so it was brought to my attention because the care unit around Dining Services said hey, here's this number  of students who are paying for Dining Services, but they haven't swiped their cards in the last month. It's a huge flag. So what's happening with these students? Where are these students? And what we learned was, these were students that were living in a different facility that offered them the ability to make their own food. So what they did was they stopped going to the cafeteria because they have the opportunity to prepare their own food. So what we thought on the surface was this massive problem, it had his end result that maybe we shouldn't increase the risk factor as high because they they're eating, they’re just not eating in the dorm. The other thing that we had was with our Student Affairs Department, and Student Affairs, were  judging but documenting the kinds of students that were showing up to the events, whether it were virtual events or ticketed events or face to face events. They were keeping track of who are the students that are participating, who are the ones we consider to be involved as students. So then we can go out and try to determine who are our dormant students? Sure. I'm at Tuskegee we have all branches of the military so a large number of our students are active in ROTC. So our ROTC care group also provides information to us around who's participating and who's not participating in those types of engagements. So we get a reasonably good bead of what's happening with our students based upon all these care units. Documenting risk levels and in many cases, the risk levels are 1,2,3 which is low, 4 to 5 is medium and then we start getting above that, its moderately high, and then we get to high and then we have this team of individuals who respond to the students in chronological order from high to low, ensuring that these students understand that there are folks watching and understand that they can help them get to the services that are on campus. So those are some of the things that we're doing in the background, and how we are involving a lot of different entities of the university to feed those resources into one channel that allows us to then figure out exactly who needs services who need assistance and when they need assistance.

 

[00:26:26] Jay Fedje: When it comes to certain subgroups, subcategories of students within a university, some perform and matriculate better because of the fact that they're surrounded by a really strong, very motivated support group.  Athletics tend to do well in a lot of colleges, because her coach has her on the roster and doesn't want her to fail and wants to make sure that she's at practice and doing well. So, you know, go Spartans, Go Tigers. Do you see that at your schools? Do you see that kind of model of a really concentrated community, like a team is pulling students through to the end, Is that something that you're seeing?

 

[00:27:30] Joseph Montgomery:  Absolutely, we see it throughout out athletics and they'll be the outliers, right? That we want to assist our coaches and athletic staff, with these outliers that are not performing like the rest of the athletes that are at the university. So they have an opportunity to now share here some cases that we've been really working on and really kind of turn the corner yet. So now we got some additional assistance there. ROTC is another where their students are performing well, they're doing really well but we have some outliers there as well. These sub communities like the marching band, like athletics, like ROTC, they have a tendency to perform really well for us because they have additional oversight. Then we get into the rest of the student body, where they're not a part of the subgroups in the same way and they can fall in between the cracks or fall through the cracks and those are the ones that we really try to catch.

 

[00:28:40] Jay Fedje: Do you see that also at Norfolk State?

 

[00:28:43] Dr. Juan Alexander:   Yeah, I see it from a similar but different way. Here we've adopted the whole Living Learning Community Environment where you have students that have common interests and in that has proven to be successful with those students, because not only are faculty and staff holding individuals accountable, but the students are holding one another accountable, but to Joe's point those students that are not in the Living Learning Communities, they're kind of just out here, kind of doing their own thing or trying to find their way, those are the individuals that we really need to focus on but I think for the most part, there is a strong environment here to pull the student up to say, let's move forward and anything that you need, we're here to help as much as we can to provide some level of support.

 

[00:29:37] Jay Fedje:  Neither Norfolk State or Tuskegee are considered large universities, you are very concentrated small,  to medium sized schools and so you don't have the same issues that a major university that Ohio State or Iowa State would have in the challenges of trying to find those clusters and breaking students down into subgroups so that they can feel like there's somebody there accountable that somebody is paying attention to them that they don't slip through the cracks, but even at a small to medium school its quite a challenge isn't it?

 

[00:30:14] Dr. Juan Alexander:  Yeah, it can be a challenge, particularly from a resource standpoint and I'm not necessarily talking about financial it can be human resources, or it could be a lack of knowledge, kind of resource. For us it's about making the shift and changing the culture.

 

[00:30:44] Joseph Montgomery: You know, Jay one of the other things that when you talk about challenges, and being able to wrap our arms around the challenges, most recently, we have been presented with different types of challenges related to how we offer courses, and the whole world of teaching and learning shifted around us without us having a whole lot of experience with teaching in a different modality. So there's these questions around, are our students really learning content the way we expect them to and how proficient our students are given the fact that we've taught X number   of courses now in a virtual modality. When we have been so accustomed to teaching everything face-to-face, I think there are some agreements that some courses will most likely remain in a virtual modality, even when we become whatever the new norm is beyond the current situation, we want to make certain that we are thinking deeply about what can we keep in the current environment and how we're teaching it. How can we keep that without sacrificing learning outcomes and our expectations, and then what really needs to truly remain face to face on the campus in terms of teaching modalities to ensure that our students are able to meet the demands of the job market or demands of graduate school, something beyond the walls of Tuskegee. We want to make certain that our product remains robust, and there still has this desirability to it, that continues to attract people to our university to give our students opportunities, the very opportunities that they've earned. So there's this constant communication between faculty, the provost office, how we offer courses when we should offer those courses, and what is the world going to look like beyond a pandemic and those are the kinds of conversations that are continuing to happen. We don't have all the answers yet but we're working hard to make certain that we understand what the new norm is going to be, and that the university will embrace it.

 

[00:33:19] Dr. Juan Alexander: You know, the other thing that we are talking about here, particularly as we talk about bringing new students to the institution, is quite possibly establishing some more dual enrollment partnerships with districts that are outside of the state. So that's one of the things that we're looking at, we were presented with some opportunities to have such agreements with some different geographical places, outside of the state of Virginia. So that's one of the things that we are also exploring, for two reasons one, it brings more of awareness of Norfolk State, and other geographical areas where we typically will not go and also from an enrollment standpoint, those individuals are not only receiving college credit, but we can also include those individuals in the enrollment count so it really expands our portfolio.

 

[00:34:23] Jay Fedje:  Yeah, you know, it's we've been, we've been talking to Mr. Joe Montgomery at Tuskegee University and Mr. Juan Alexander at Norfolk State University about the journey from prospective students all the way through to landed alum and all the moments in time along the way that enrollment managers can intercede and can impact students as they matriculate through to graduation. One of the things that I'm reminded of is that it takes pennies on the dollar to retain a student, as opposed to recruiting a new student. Retaining students is really more of an attitude then a decision that it is a huge budget resource, but it does take it does take resources, it does take staffing takes, it takes leadership, it takes decision, it takes a strong sense that we want to not only bring students in, but we want to bring them to the next level of being a landed alum to graduate and move on. In the last phase of this journey we've talked about the prospect, we've talked about the freshmen talked about first year and second year, the third year, and so forth. Let's talk a little bit about this kind of ending of the journey, and how enrollment managers can support and help the landing of those alumni, the graduation, the earning of the diploma and how this leads to something greater than just the college or university that you’re in. How this is going to lead to opportunities beyond the hallowed halls of Norfolk State and Tuskegee, when do you start the conversation and what part do enrollment managers play in that conversation in getting those students to graduation and then placed when landed?

 

[00:36:44] Joseph Montgomery: At Tuskegee, we start that conversation on day one, It is vitally important that our students understand preparation and in their first year at the university, we are working with them on soft skills, or working with them to help them understand the difference between a resume and a professional resume, is those types of positioning points that we make in the first year but we also set some very steep goals for ourselves, we will enroll over 25 distinguished presidential scholars this year and it's our goal to that of our distinguished presidentials that we want 100% of them on some experiential learning experience in their first summer. Other students that are a part of the freshmen class our new student class, we have positioned ourselves so that 40% of them have some experiential learning opportunity in their first summer. So we are moving them along the way to building a resume that matters based upon what is the outcome beyond Tuskegee and so we make it more aggressive when we move them into their second cohort year at the University by setting more aggressive goals. We did a survey over the last five years of completers and we wanted  to know, first question was, did you have an opportunity at graduation? Then we follow that question up with was when did you learn that you had this opportunity? And then after we ask them to tell us how did you get introduced to the opportunity and what we've learned is that the earlier that companies have an opportunity to engage our students, they're able to grow their competencies about our students, and our students are able to grow their competencies about the company. So early exposure to companies allow us to have a greater placement rate and so that's the push to get more and more students involved with organizations so students can decide whether XYZ Company is a better fit for me and then the company gets to decide that XYZ student is the best fit for us. So many of our students who have multiple experiential learning opportunities, were able to ascertain an opportunity going into their senior year. So it's our goal to ensure that all of our students have an opportunity at graduation by this kind of early experience with organizations.

 

[00:39:57] Jay Fedje: That's fantastic, day one it's a dream isn't It? Juan, do you start early, when do you start talking to students about what the end result is gonna be?

 

[00:40:06] Dr. Juan Alexander: We started day one, students actually have to do a career assessment that they do during orientation and then in a part of the same class, as I talked about earlier, they also do several assessments, first of all, to identify what their strengths and weaknesses are, and kind of understanding who they are by being a little bit more aware and then understanding and demonstrating what their interests are which mirrors with Career Services, and helping to match the student with companies, employers, things of that nature, based on majors and interests, that the student will be a good fit for. Now, again, you know, as I talked about, changing the culture and how we think, you know, as an enrollment manager, and just some prior experiences, one of the things that we're starting to have the conversation around is implementing a requirement in every curriculum that a student has to do at least two internships before they graduate. So that would help, again, to the exposure and students within their field, being able to say, well, because of these internship experiences, you know, quite possibly the connections that I need to make the people that I need to talk to, are readily available through these experiences and so that once I graduate, once the relationship has been established, quite possibly, would lead to employment. So that's some of the conversations that we're having now, at the institution, but again, it's a change in culture.

 

[00:41:59] Jay Fedje: Yeah. You both have now sent your graduating class out into the world, haven't you?

 

[00:42:05] Joseph Montgomery: We both have. I just concluded commencement this past weekend it was a much later commencement than most universities and you know, it was great to see so many of our students from Tuskegee, who were proudly representing the organizations that they're going to whether it was a graduate school, I saw several students from the College of Engineering going to medical school. So that was fantastic to see. I saw a lot of branded companies that students were proud to wear on their stoles and that gives me more motivation to ensure that the students coming in behind these students will have opportunities, we continue to develop and cultivate relationships with organizations who we feel are good fits for our students. I do want listeners to know that a part of our partnership and developmental partnership is making certain that the companies and organizations that we are developing these relationships with that they truly understand the product. It's important for us to make certain that our students have good experiences, leaving a place like Tuskegee, a family-oriented university, and helping them embrace what it means to go, perhaps work in a world where they may not see a whole lot of people that on the outside look like they have things in common. So we have this thing about growing competencies in both directions, Tuskegee competencies, their core competencies, our competencies about a company or organization, we are relaying those competencies to our students, but yet the companies are doing the same thing. So the expectations on both sides are well understood. So that is the placement that is important to us and we're placing for longevity, not to place someone just to say that a month after graduation they started the job, no one knows that 2 weeks later the person quit because they felt like they didn't fit in and were not part of the organization. They felt like a mismatch sure situation so that’s when if we can provide opportunities for students to be placed appropriately and they have staying power and that staying power allows them to move somewhere else or do some other things that people want to feel like Tuskegee really delivered not only education, but the placement they are on and so we want happy alum.

 

[00:45:00] Jay Fedje: Your brand promises to give them a great experience and move them into a career and into a life that is beyond Tuskegee. They bring the sweatshirt with them, but honestly it's something bigger than that. Juan, did you have graduation  recently? 

[00:45:31] Dr. Juan Alexander: Yes we had graduation about two weeks ago, I actually had the opportunity to witness my first graduating class as director of admissions. So the students that I recruited four years ago graduated and time has gone by really fast, but many of them that I know of are doing quite well, many of them are going on to law school and many that I know of that I've spoken to are actually going on to graduate school, but in terms of employers, not many of them have said anything about working somewhere full time, many of them have gone to some professional school, such as law school, or going into graduate school.

 

[00:46:22] Jay Fedje: You know, there's probably nothing from my career in enrollment, more emotional, more meaningful than graduation, it was the culmination of what we'd all worked for so long and worked hard to not only bring them to a university and give them opportunity, but to continue to mentor and manage that journey with them and then watch them go out and become something bigger and better and more significant than they ever probably dreamed of when they were coming into the university from the very beginning. So I appreciate both your time guys, I have just really enjoyed talking to you about this. We've been talking to Joe Montgomery from Tuskegee University and Juan Alexander at Norfolk State University about how enrollment managers can impact and support the journey of students from that very first email letter in a prospective student’s first year, all the way through to becoming an alum. I appreciate your time guys, thank you so much for your wisdom and sharing your experiences, it's been delightful. Thank you. You've been listening to the Enrollment Edge Podcast, Enrollment Edge is sponsored by enrollmentFUEL, a full-service student search and marketing partner to colleges and universities. If you're listening on apple podcasts, please give us a five-star rating. Your feedback will help us remain relevant and on the edge, the Enrollment Edge is produced by Alison Walls. I'm your host, Jay Fedje thanks for listening.