Enrollment Management in the Digital Age

Enrollment Management has undergone a massive shift over the past decade. We detailed this in a recent blog post promoting our 2017 Philly Tech Week event, but it bears repeating here.

In 1990, 9% of college-bound students applied to seven or more schools. Today, that percentage has risen above 30%. That’s largely due to the proliferation of colleges that accept the common app, which has made it easier than ever to quickly apply to a multitude of schools. But students are also more in control today than ever before. New digital tools like Niche, Big Future, and Unigo have created online experiences that use a student’s demographic information and preferences to algorithmically match them with colleges and universities in an experience that resembles that of a dating site.

Schools have had to adapt to this new reality, and that’s a big part of why we were so excited to welcome Adam Castro, Vice President of Enrollment Management at Bloomfield College, to the Hashtag Higher Ed podcast.

In this episode of Hashtag Higher Ed, Adam talks about the three biggest changes in enrollment management since he joined the profession, why and how students and parents have become much more empowered in choosing a college, the surprising new inquiry form that Bloomfield College prospective students are using, and more.

On the Way Social Media Has Changed Enrollment Management:

“Colleges and Universities, probably for the first time, are losing control of their messaging. For the history of colleges and marketing…it was higher ed professionals, it was marketing professionals, controlling the message about the institution. Their brand was created internally. Now, students can certainly manipulate or change the course of the reputation of a college or university based on their experience.”

On the New Challenges Created from Big Data

“The biggest challenge for me has been, and probably always will be, training and getting the best return on your investment for your CRM platform. There’s never enough time to sit down and do a weeklong training on how to effectively develop a communication plan within a CRM platform, or how to create reports that you can use. There’s just never enough time for that. We’re a small shop, with a large territory, and we’re constantly traveling or reviewing applications. So that’s the biggest challenge for me: making sure we’re putting enough time aside to develop our people and have them use everything that’s available to them.”

On More Empowered Students

“They hold all the cards. That was never the case 10, 20, 30 years ago. Certainly, when my generation went to college, the school held all the cards, the admissions counselor held all the cards. They were driving the process, both from an informational standpoint and a decision standpoint. If they let you in, they were doing you a favor. And that was almost true at every institution. That dynamic has changed across the board now save for the top 1% of selective schools. The student has so much more power now. And admissions has been slow to react to that.”

On Text Messaging Prospective Students

“I recently did a Higher Ed Live episode in which I had a student on who happened to be in a Gap Year. We started talking about email, and I turned to him and asked, ‘tell us what you think about email?’ And he said, ‘I don’t want to tell you anything about email because the one thing I don’t want you to do is email me.’

I was more old school when email was a thing. I was all about it. But now I think it’s become a crutch in a lot of admissions offices. It’s easy to automate. You can take the person out of it and set it and forget it. But text messaging is the way that students want to be communicated with. If a student opts into text messaging — we’ve seen it over the last two years where we’ve really ramped up our text messaging communication — they are so much more engaged than students that don’t.”

Adam Castro’s Social Shout Outs

Brian Mikesell: Vice President, Sales Engineering at Hobsons

Follow Brian on Twitter at: @bmikesell

“Brilliant guy. Every time I talk with him I think he should be working for NASA, not a higher ed company. He’s doing some really interesting things in terms of how students are searching for colleges online.”

Marlene Jennings: Senior Director, Higher Education Technology Sales at Hobsons

Follow Marlene on Twitter at: @mjennings100

“She’s just a really smart person. We go back a long way in terms of marketing, back when we were solely relying on prospect mailings and viewbooks. Now we’re doing so much more in the digital space with Active Match and things like that that Hobsons offers.

Dr. Liz Gross: Social Media and Marketing Research Strategist at Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation and Affiliates

Follow Liz on Twitter at: @lizgross144

“Super cool person and a great follow on Twitter. Has her own blog, teaches classes on social media. She recently turned me on to this idea of social listening. It’s kind of this next level way for colleges to understand how students are talking about them on all social media platforms, not just the main platforms.”

A huge thank you to Adam Castro for joining the Hashtag Higher Ed podcast. You can find Adam on Twitter at @AdamCastroEdu. He’s also a frequent host of Higher Ed Live and a regular contributor to #EMchat on Twitter.

You can listen to this episode on Soundcloud, iTunes, Google Music, or wherever podcasts are found. To explore previous episodes of the Hashtag Higher Ed podcast and sign up for alerts regarding new episodes, visit our Hashtag Higher Ed hub.

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