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Fundamental Lessons for Enrollment and Admissions Offices for 2020

Posted by Matt Kelly on Nov 19, 2019 7:56:48 AM
Matt Kelly

Community and connections matter.

No surprises there. Endless studies show that when individuals are supported by a community, that they are more likely to thrive and be successful within that community. They are then even more likely to give back to that same community and pay it forward. The work that PeopleGrove has done with our university partners is based on that crucial tenant.


More and more, our partners are saying that the same approach that has been successful in career services and alumni relations is valuable in enrollment management.

To learn more, our team traveled to Louisville, KY for the annual National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) Conference. Here are some key takeaways from a fantastic experience.

Competition is King

This year’s NACAC conference certainly made a national splash. In response to an impending filing by the Department of Justice, delegates at the conference gave the NACAC board the authority to make significant changes to the organization's Code of Ethics and Professional Practices (CEPP). Overall, these changes remove commonly accepted limits and timelines to recruiting efforts. Even going so far as to allow schools to solicit transfer applications from students who were in their admissions funnel, but have matriculated elsewhere.

The end result of all this will be increased and prolonged noise for prospects and students. Enrollment Management offices will now be looking at their entire process and thinking about where they can increase their marketing and recruitment efforts — regardless of time of year. This introduction of uncertainty is also going to throw the predictive analytics into flux. Without the well established deadlines traditionally observed in the admissions process, feeling confident in your numbers is going to be more difficult.

Schools Now Have to Play Defense

This is perhaps the biggest change coming out of NACAC. For enrollment management, it’s easy to see these changes as an invitation to continue pursuing prospects and increase your outbound reach? However, what might get lost in the shuffle is the fact that other schools are doing the exact same thing and coming after your students.

Institutions need to also be thinking about what else they can be doing to retain students, especially during their first year in your programs. Of course, retention has always been important — but the focus of retention has primarily been on making sure that students can cut it academically. Now, colleges and universities have to make sure they are doing even more to get students acclimated, comfortable, and attached. These students are now going to be getting solicitations to submit transfer applications, and the impact of that messaging could be drastic if a school hasn’t done enough to ensure students feel supported socially as well as academically.

Offer Students What is Unique to You

With all these changes and challenges, schools are going to be looking for every edge imaginable. Many responses and op-eds have predicted that price competition will be the main area where schools will compete. Competition with financial aid packages is expected to get even more intense.

But what is really unique about your institution? Something that no other school has?

In essence, it’s your campus community and the students and alumni that make up that community. To stand out among the noise, colleges and universities should consider how they can be using that community more in their recruitment and retention efforts. From connecting prospects with admissions ambassadors, to admitted student peer mentoring programs, to guided pathways for matriculated students during their first semester — schools can show prospects and students that an investment in their institution is worth it.

At PeopleGrove, it’s been inspiring to see the work that our partners have done to build and cultivate communities that support institutional outcomes. The creativity and passion of our partners helps drive our work on a daily business. We are excited to continue to learn and build in a new space where community and connections can make a major impact.

Interested in getting ahead of the competition?? Learn more and reach out to us here.