When are more applications not a good thing? We recently visited a campus that had increased its applications for admission five- fold over the last few years. That sounds like a good thing, right? But there can be some risks involved.
- First, if your internal processes and infrastructure aren’t prepared for the increase in volume, application processing will be log jammed and turnaround time will be poor. This can make an institution that purports to be small and personal feel like the DMV.
- Second, if your sales force is now all consumed with application review, they won’t have time to sell. Building relationships and taking the time to make the case for value is critical to high conversion rates, especially at high- cost, private institutions, and high volumes can significantly limit the sales forces’ ability to make these personal contacts, even with prospects who are at a premium in the pool.
- Third, the cost of search buys/print/postage/staff time for processing and qualifying or outsourcing these activities can be significant. If conversion rates on the larger pool are low, these costs must be weighed against other recruitment investments that may be more productive.
So how do you avoid these risks?
- First, focus on building demand from students who will be a good fit for your institution. Use historical and demographic data to target your search to populations that meet the profile that is most likely to convert.
- Second, ensure that your systems are as automated as possible to keep backlogs to a minimum.
- Third, qualify your pool (again with data) so that recruiters can focus personal outreach efforts on the most solid inquiries and applicants.
- Fourth, streamline your application reading process so that you limit the number of “touches” that are necessary.
We believe that some institutions have cast their net too broadly in part to be able to look more selective and satisfy U.S. News & World Report ranking criteria. We wonder, though, if an artificially low acceptance rate is worth all the trouble.
What are your thoughts? We’d love to hear your perspective.
Image © iStockphoto.
Vice President Kathy Kurz's special area of expertise is in developing strategic financial aid and retention programs, designed to enhance enrollment and net tuition revenue results. A former Associate Vice President at the University of Rochester and Director of Financial Aid at Earlham College, she pays special attention to ensuring that the solutions recommended are practical, detailed, and implementable.
Kathy contributes regularly to University Business, authored a chapter entitled The Changing Role of Financial Aid and Enrollment Management in New Directions for Student Services, a Jossey-Bass publication, and speaks at national conferences and seminars such as NACUBO, Academic Impressions, and CIC.
Connect with Kathy on LinkedIn.
Enrollment Management Consultant Jennifer Wick joined the Scannell & Kurz team in May 2011. She manages the Financial Aid Strategy Tool (FAST) and provides consulting on a wide range of enrollment management topics from admissions to retention.
Jennifer comes to S&K from Clarkson University where she served for nine years as Director of New Student Financial Assistance. Her experience encompasses both financial aid and admissions responsibilities, specializing in balancing financial aid strategies with enrollment targets and retention concerns. She has conducted enrollment data analysis, managed regional territories, and created successful financial aid strategies for targeted demographics. In addition, Jennifer has a keen interest in retention, which includes predictive model development to identify at-risk first-year students.
Jennifer earned a B.S. and M.S. in Physics, both from Clarkson University. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.