MIS Means Admissions Power
How effective your admissions administrators are may depend on their ability
to find and intelligently utilize the best information management systems.
Once your institution decides it would like to build up its enrollment, that’s
a good time to scrutinize your campus information software. There any many factors
that contribute to building enrollment, but a strong information system, effectively
used, is an essential aid.
Baptist Bible College (MO), for instance, took just such simultaneous
steps to avert a declining enrollment trend. The college hired a new admissions
director, brought in an admissions consultant, restructured some of its programs,
worked on tightening its management of the admissions funnel, and upgraded to
a modern information system from Campus
Management Corp. to make its new measures practicable. Result: BBC’s
enrollment of new students has nearly tripled in just two years.
Here are some specific tips for using your information management
system to boost the enrollment bottom line:
Use History to Anticipate Student Needs
Mine the information in your student information system (SIS) to figure out
how to turn one-time students into repeat customers. Colorado Mountain
College has begun to be proactive in luring back continuing education
students, letting them know about course offerings related to their academic
“There are a lot of lifelong learner students who take one or two art
courses for personal interest throughout the year,” notes Bill Sommers,
dean of Enrollment Services. “Through [Datatel’s] Query Builder
and Communications Management [www.datatel.com],
we are informing those students of all art courses that will be offered in the
upcoming semester. This is a great retention tactic to keep students enrolled
Data certainly can be used to boost retention and keep enrollment high. At
Columbia College of Chicago, Jenzabar’s
SIS lets the college collect detailed information about incoming students, including
grades, test scores, and even comments on a writing sample. Students who may
have a hard time surviving their first semester are offered a chance to attend
a free Bridge Program to improve their skills before enrolling, says Bernadette
McMahon, CIO and associate VP of Information Technology.
Tighten the Loop
Every time a potential or actual applicant contacts the institution, use the
power of your information system to make sure that the response is prompt and
The University of Newcastle in the UK has recently implemented
the “E2R” project (Enquiry to Recruitment), using components from
SAP AG’s campus management, CRM, portal,
and business intelligence solutions. The specific focus is to handle and quickly
turn around inquiries from international students. The E2R project has reduced
the “time to decision” in international student acceptance by over
60 percent—from six days to 24 to 48 hours, and in most cases, in less
than 24 hours. The project is already a runaway success, says Malcolm Woodfield,
director of Global Business Development, Higher Education and Research at SAP.
Using Oracle’s PeopleSoft software,
admissions staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison were able to cut in
half the time required for an admissions decision—from four to six weeks,
to two to three weeks, says Curtiss Barnes, senior director, Applications Strategy,
Education and Research at Oracle.
Demonstrating the effect that efficient operations can have on admissions statistics,
Texas Christian University gained significant admissions productivity after
implementing Oracle’s PeopleSoft Finance and Human Resources systems.
Applications increased 51 percent, admissions inquiries increased 88 percent,
and the number of applications accepted online doubled.
Answer Questions Online
Tightening the loop also calls for quick turnaround to prospective students’
inquiries and questions. Nothing is as responsive and efficient as making information
available online. Quick access to personalized information strengthens the perception
that the institution cares about individual recruits.
“We’ve made the information in SCT Banner available online in a
central portal with immediate self-service access,” says John S. Camp,
the CIO at Wayne State University (MI). “It satisfies students’
expectations for on-demand service 24/7.”
Make Telephone Contacts More Productive
Relationship tracking software can display the details of previous calls and
correspondence so that each phone counselor can pick up with a prospective student
exactly where the last call left off, without wasting time getting up to speed
on the student’s previous history, interests, and concerns.
In support of its efforts to build relationships with its constituents, Harding
University (AR) uses its SCT
Banner administrative system to store information including records of conversations
and information received and sent. Harding also uses SCT Banner to assist in
the tracking of admissions prospects and applicants from its K-12 school through
its undergraduate and graduate programs, according to Mike Chalenburg, assistant
VP-ITS at Harding.
Don’t Work in the Dark
Clearly, if you want to know if your recruiting strategies are working, you’ll
need reliable information. That means good reports and analysis to show what
progress the institution is making compared to previous years. Accordingly,
the College of St. Scholastica (MN) is implementing SunGard SCT business intelligence
solutions to leverage the data in its administrative system. “We’re
moving beyond basic reporting to where we can really analyze trends and make
projections,” says Lynne Hamre, CIO at the college.
Get a Checkup
If you’re not sure whether your information system is making the fullest
contribution to your enrollment efforts, you do have options: You can get your
vendor to perform an assessment (some will provide a checkup for free; see Datatel’s
complimentary Action Planning Service on its Web site), you can organize an
internal review, or you can bring in an expert from outside to help you measure
unused potential. Bottom line: It’s good to know that you’re making
use of the power that you already have at your fingertips.