Colleges and universities are under considerable pressure, both from within, as they work to fulfill their educational mission, and externally, as they attempt to understand and curtail drops in enrollment and retention. The latter is particularly troubling, as more than half of public colleges and two-thirds of private institutions failed to meet their enrollment goals in 2016.1 Many higher education institutions are embracing analytic solutions to help them unravel enrollment, persistence, and retention challenges. By analyzing academic history, student behavior, co-curricular involvement, and other pertinent data, colleges and universities can recruit, attract, and enroll students who have a higher likelihood of academic success. This allows them to focus on efforts to identify students that need extra support who are already enrolled, and make interventions, increasing students’ likelihood to persist. Institutional data is only useful if it is leveraged properly. The following are five best practices for enrollment management practitioners to consider when deploying an analytics strategy.
1) Know Which Questions to Ask
Data cannot tell you a story unless you know which questions to ask. It is also critically important to understand how best to interpret the answers. The University of Maryland University College (UMUC), for example, was concerned with meeting enrollment targets. They asked themselves— and then the data—if they needed more applicants. The answer was, surprisingly, no. The data suggested that more frequent and additional communication with admitted students could make a significant difference. And it did. After their investment in data analytics, UMUC saw a 19% increase in new student enrollment, as well as increases in course completion and student persistence—all while reducing recruitment spending by 20%.2 Keep in mind that UMUC did not ask the data, “How do we get more applicants?” Instead they questioned if creating more prospects would make a difference. By questioning the very premise of their enrollment strategy, rather than looking for a way to double down on it, they were able to increase enrollments and reduce recruitment expenses. The takeaway? Be sure the questions you are asking are high-level enough—and that you’re collecting enough data to discover answers outside of any potential institutional or historical bias.
Download our eBook to learn the rest of the best practices. You can also visit us at Booth 1324 at the NACAC Conference from September 27-29 to learn how we are helping schools increase enrollment, improve student success, ensure financial sustainability and accelerate gift giving.