Student Profiles: Part I

Student profiles continue to come up in my daily conversations with college administrators. There seems to be such a huge opportunity here – it is just a matter of a school wrapping its arms around the data they have and embracing the concept of student profiles as a powerful tool to better understand and support their students.

Student profiles enable your college to better determine the programs, delivery models and educational structure that will attract and retain students. Today, I’d like to address student profiles from a college prospecting and marketing perspective.

Colleges and universities are in a sea of noise – in order to increase student enrollment, they need to find a way to stand out in the crowd, and also make sure they are targeting
the right students for the right programs.

Traditionally, colleges and universities address student recruitment by increasing marketing efforts – utilizing additional marketing channels, allocating additional budget for traditional and social media, and more. However, additional outreach doesn’t always equate to more leads. Rather, colleges need to know more about the students they are targeting.

When building successful student profiles, you should look at the available demographic, behavioristic/psychographic, and educational information on a student prospect. You then need to assign a risk factor to each characteristic. For example, a prospect with established career goals would most likely pose a “low” risk, yet that same prospect could be transitional and not stay in one place for long periods of time, posing a “high” risk. You’ll want to establish an average overall risk level based on a comprehensive list of his or her characteristics.

Next, you should assign a complete profile to a student prospect and determine whether to actively pursue that person as a prospective student, and if so, develop action plans as necessary. For example, if a prospect has an overall risk factor rating of “high” due to the fact that he or she is a single parent who is working part time, your action plan can address child care.

Student profiles help colleges better target students who will likely succeed in your programs. But they serve another purpose beyond getting students in the door. Student profiles can drive retention too, so you can make sure that someone who is likely to succeed actually does. I plan to talk about student profiles from a retention perspective in my next blog…so stay tuned.

In the meantime, feel free to check out my eBook, “How to Make Informed Decisions Based on Successful Student Profiles: Seven Steps to Increase Recruitment and Retention.”

I will also be hosting a webinar to discuss Student Profiles in depth on September 23rd. If you are interested, you can click here to register.


Lead Management for Targeted Marketing in Higher Education

Targeting the right prospective student, getting that student enrolled, and seeing that student through to graduation is the lifeblood of your educational system. However, that initial step might not ever take place with dirty data, meaning data that is incomplete, outdated, or just plain inaccurate.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with numerous educators at the Career College Association annual convention in Las Vegas, and it was amazing to hear how some schools make lead management a priority, and others simply didn’t have the resources to do so.

Schools need to be proactive when it comes to maintaining lead data, and they should be asking themselves the following questions:

    •  Increased operational efficiencies, allowing admissions staff to focus on high quality leads and not data management
    •  Targeted marketing programs resulting in accurate, measurable results
    •  Higher enrollment and retention rates, driving a stronger bottom line
    •  Happy, well placed students
    1.  How fast are prospective students changing contact and biographical information?
    2.  How often should you realistically update prospective student information?
    3.  At what point do you recognize prospective student data as expired, and purge it?
    Data management is  crucial and can determine how your school fares in meeting or exceeding your recruitment and enrollment goals. More efficient lead management hinges upon the quality of your data – data that has been verified as complete, current and accurate.Schools that take steps to more efficiently manage data will be able to attract the right type of student, enroll that student, and see that student through to graduation. They should achieve the following:To read more about lead management and ten tips for keeping up with data so you make sure you are using the highest quality information in your recruitment and enrollment efforts, please download a copy of my white paper, More Effective Lead Management for Targeted Marketing in Higher Education.

Building Successful Student Profiles

I recently presented at the Distance Education and Training Council Annual Conference, and there was quite a bit of talk about student profiles.  So, I ask you this…

1)     How important are student profiles in helping schools meet learner demands? 

2)     And if you believe these profiles can contribute to both student and institutional success, how do you even go about building them?

I believe there are both a tremendous need and an exciting opportunity to better understand your students.  How are they changing?  How can you create models that meet their needs?  And how can you communicate with them based on their needs? 

I happen to be one that believes student profiles are of absolute importance when it comes to providing your students a unique and productive experience.  And the most effective profiles are those that include information from across the student lifecycle.  Schools that not only build, but more importantly use these student profiles will be able to 1) recruit the right kinds of students, 2) quickly launch new programs, and 3) tailor offerings and delivery modes. 

Student profiles can encompass demographic, behavioral and psychological information.  For example, how old is the average student, how ready are they to enroll, what risk factors to they have, what programs are they most interested in, and what are their career goals?

I propose three steps that will help you gather the necessary data in order to build your successful student profiles:

  • Report on student activity from prospect to placement
  • Monitor student inflection points
  • Deliver education where and when students want it

Student profiles can be critical in analyzing where, when and how students can be most successful at your school.  By building a complete picture of each unique student, your school can best meet a particular student’s needs and the student can maximize the education experience.

Webinar Re-cap: Fight for Your Budget: How to Track and Justify Your Admissions Marketing Efforts

TopSchool co-hosted our first webinar this week with Fight for Your Budget: How to Track and Justify Your Admissions Marketing Efforts.

Derek Kraus, the former director of operations for Westwood College and Justin Sloan, the former senior director of admissions for the College of Wooster, both of TopSchool, were our presenters.

If you weren’t able to attend, a copy of the presentation can be found here.

In short, here are seven easy steps to track and analyze your admissions marketing efforts so you can fight for and secure the appropriate budget:

  1. Identify your student profile: Know who your students are. Brainstorm with groups to provide one word adjectives that describe your students. Be clear in describing your students and displaying your knowledge of your campus.
  2. Determine costs (CPL, CPA, CPS): Know what all of your expenses are within each measuring category of CPL (Cost per Lead), CPA (Cost per Application) and CPS (Cost per Start).
  3. Set metric goals: Set your goals for each metric identified, plus you may have additional ones, such as the number of student leads you will need each week or month, to help reach your enrollment goals.
  4. Find your students: Which websites do your students visit? Which vendors can help you find your student profile? Identify these websites and vendors and have a clear plan of how you’re going to work with them.
  5. Diversify your vendor list: Always diversify the list of vendors you utilize. This will help you  not only access a broader prospective student base, but also diversify the resulting student population.
  6. Create data tracking: Make sure you have the right tools in place for tracking all the necessary information such as the number of student leads, applications, starts and all related costs.
  7. Standardize measurements and reports: Lastly, standardize all of your measurements and reports. Consistency allows for greater understanding and transparency of what’s going on in your processes and the ability to clearly and easily indicate how your changes are effectively improving costs, revenue, employee morale and the overall experience of your students.

Following these seven steps will lead you to increased enrollment and operational efficiencies.

Are you already addressing each of these steps in your admissions process?