Information has never been so accessible, and students nowadays spend a lot of time researching their university options online through websites, social media channels and online forums.
The amount of people applying to university online increased by 328 per cent between 2000 and 2015, according to Bierer, an independent college adviser based in Charlotte, NC. It’s safe to say that this, coupled with the simple fact that there are more students applying to a wider pool of institutions means the level of competition between universities has skyrocketed in recent years.
It goes without saying that in a digital and increasingly automated age, a university’s admission process must be a well-oiled machine if it is to meet the expectations of prospects, and to properly compete with top higher education institutions. Here, we outline five essential tips for getting there.
1. Throw out the spreadsheets and consolidate
When investing in technology in a university admissions context, less is more. There are lots of software systems on the market, each serving a different purpose. For example, a Learning Management System (LMS) is a tool used to deliver mainly online instructional and course material and can track and report student progress, whereas a student information system (SIS) deals with data-specific communication and can measure institutional metrics. And who can forget the humble Excel Spreadsheet!
More often than not though - as this article on common mistakes universities make when investing in technologies points out - both staff and students are only willing to interact with one system; a streamlined program that provides consistency.
2. Invest in Admissions Software for higher education
The best way to ensure an organised, streamlined admissions process is to invest in a integrated Admissions + CRM suite, that is compatible with your needs and requirements as an institution. This combination of software is designed specifically for higher education and enables the user to manage applications, enrolled students and alumni data and communication in one easy to use hub.
This creates transparency across departments and not only saves on admin time, but makes it easier for departments to collaborate on projects. Users can create and manage landing pages and enquiry forms and capture and store leads from these and other sources on the database, as well as keep track of and manage student recruitment events. The ability to capture meaningful data in one place also enables the admissions and marketing team to target the right prospects at the right time.
Here is an example of landing pages and event management with FULL FABRIC.
3. Educate your team
Involve the team in the CRM selection process and use their experiences of managing the application process to choose the right one for the university. Similarly, make sure everyone is involved in the testing phase and create a training plan so that the department can hit the ground running upon implementation. A good quality CRM should be easy to use and accessible for all.
4. Use other channels
It’s all very well have a slick application system in place, but it’s just as important to make sure admissions content is meaningful and unique - in other words, get creative! Because the CRM frees up so much time through its ability to schedule and automate processes, more time can be spent on creating engaging campaigns tailored around the needs of individuals and cohorts.
In the same way, more time and money can be invested in exploring other channels like social media. For instance, events you schedule on the Admissions platform can be shared across social media channels. Universities can use this medium to promote their university by showcasing events, getting students to create vlogs and using explainer videos to describe the how the application process works.
5. Report and reflect
In-built Admissions and CRM reporting tools enable the user to generate insightful reports on the success of student application campaigns and any other data stored on it. Users can modify predefined templates and download them if necessary. Reports summarise findings in a visually digestible way and help departments to see what’s working well and areas for improvement.
It goes without saying that importance must be placed on every single stage of the student lifecycle, not just the admission phase. A great student lifecycle suite will enable the institution to manage communication and data throughout the student journey, through to graduation and beyond, when they become alumni.