Arthur Arzola Scholarship – Humboldt State University

Arthur-ArzolaLast week’s accident involving a bus filled with students traveling to Humboldt State University really struck home for many of us in the higher education space. It hit even harder when we discovered that one of the victims was an EM pro in every sense of the word. Arthur Arzola was an advocate. He was compassionate. He was filled with a passion for the field. He wanted to see students succeed. And, he put his everything into his role as an admissions representative at Humboldt State, reaching out to those students who had the potential, but needed the extra push.

From all of the wonderful stories we’ve read about Arthur and from the testimonies of his co-workers and friends, we know he was the push those students needed. In fact, he was also the pull, going directly into their communities and bringing them right back to his campus.

Arthur got what admissions is all about.

He may have never participated in #EMchat–who knows, he may not have ever heard of us. But, he was one of us.

And, we want to do something to honor him. A card and flowers seemed the likely route, but after mulling over some more ideas, Jennielle, Jillian, and I came up with something more fitting. A scholarship in Arthur’s name, benefiting the students he sought to provide guidance to–first generation.

We don’t have any cool t-shirts this time, but you can be sure that we’ll be donating the full amount of money raised to Humboldt State. If we raise a few hundred dollars, super. We’ll provide a book scholarship. If we raise more, even better. We’ll offset the cost of college, continuing Arthur’s mission to open the door to dreams, potential, and success for hardworking, deserving students.

We’ll be running this fundraiser until May 16th and will keep you updated on our communication with Humboldt state regarding the initiative and our success along the way.

Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik had a much more eloquent post honoring Arthur earlier this week.

Please share this campaign with your colleagues and your friends. The higher education community is a tight knit one. Let’s come together for a phenomenal cause for a phenomenal man.


Digitally Driven Admissions & Data

I’m particularly excited for this week’s #EMchat because it centers on one of the things I love most, modernization and leaning forward.

In the last decade, the enrollment management world has seen a massive shift toward a serious focus on data. As admissions is the starting point for students in the college search, it really makes sense that this portion of the industry is blazing the digital path for all higher education to get on board. That’s not to say that other parts of the higher ed world aren’t on board with data and digital, it’s just my opinion that admissions leads the pack.

And to dissuade anyone from posting that I don’t know what I’m talking about because MOOCs are leading the digital advance of higher ed, my previous post makes it pretty clear that MOOCs (once again, in my opinion) are only a fraction of the #edtech movement.

This week we’ll be talking all things digital.

But, to get us started…..

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Coming in for a landing: Helicopter parents and the admissions process

Ashley Gunn currently works as an admissions counselor with the University of Vermont admissions team. In her role, she manages the student recruitment for Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey. She also works on the Diversity admissions staff and supports on-campus programs and events for prospective students from underrepresented groups. Ashley received her Masters in Education from the University of Vermont and her Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of Florida. She currently lives in Burlington, Vermont with the best dog in the world.

Ashley Gunn currently works as an admissions counselor with the University of Vermont admissions team. In her role, she manages the student recruitment for Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey. She also works on the Diversity admissions staff and supports on-campus programs and events for prospective students from underrepresented groups. Ashley received her Masters in Education from the University of Vermont and her Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of Florida. She currently lives in Burlington, Vermont with the best dog in the world.

Helicopter parents.

You can almost guarantee that bringing up this term among a group of college admissions officers will bring you a fair share of eye rolls and horror stories. Before transitioning into the field of enrollment management, I worked in the field of student affairs. My career focus was on developing the mind, body and souls of eager college students. As you can imagine, our field was becoming increasingly concerned about the emergence of parents who were so ensconced in their parental roles that they were supplanting their students place in the developmental experience of college. Calling professors to argue about grades, showing up on campus to wash their students’ clothes, stepping in at any sign of discomfort or distress in a way that was seriously hampering our ability to develop college students into independent and able people. As I began my transition into my role as an admissions counselor, veteran professionals began to prepare me for dealing with the notorious helicopter parents that would I would surely encounter. However, after almost a year in my position my negative feelings and judgments towards parents during the admissions process have all but dissipated. In its place is a growing sense of compassion, endearment and respect for the role that parents and families can play in this process.

Long heralded as the villains, helicopter parents are, more often than not, an admissions officer’s best friend. Unlike the college years when a student is transitioning into an adult with adult expectations and responsibilities, the admissions process occurs at a time when a student is on the cusp of adulthood but still in the midst of adolescence. Additionally, parents play a much more central role in this process because 1. They can sometimes know their students better than they know themselves 2. They tend to lead the charge with both their organization and funding of trips to visit colleges and 3. As college costs rise, deciding where to go often becomes a family decision. I’ve found that high school students are very able and many are focused enough to make an informed decision about what college they want to attend but most students are lost, anxious and confused and eager for guidance that needs to come from someone other than the admissions counselor they met for 10 minutes at a college fair.

I admit that when I answer the phone or open an email and notice it’s from a parent I cringe a little. I can’t help but wonder what the student is thinking and how , if at all, the parent is supporting this student to be more involved in their college search process. But after engaging with parents I come away understanding that parents and families have just as many concerns as prospective students. They are trying to find a place in a process that ends with them taking on a very different role in their child’s life then they one they have assumed for the past 18 years. Sometimes the anxiety they unknowingly give to their child is an expression of their own desire to find a place for their student that will provide them the security and foundation for success that they have been responsible for.

It’s obvious to me that parents feel somewhat guilty or ashamed of inserting themselves into their child’s college selection process. As they awkwardly try to push their child to ask more questions, or pretend to be their child over the phone or through email I have wondered about more productive and helpful ways admissions offices can find a place for parents and families to ask their questions and ease their anxieties. Creating a “space” for parents and families in the admissions process helps admissions offices, parents and students who desperately want their dad to stop asking questions about “frat” parties during an information session. Research on helicopter parents has shown that they tend to be highly educated meaning this isn’t their first rodeo. In the back of their mind is the college experience (the good and the bad) and they have more nuanced questions that student may not know to ask.

Through the power of google, I found a few colleges who seem to be providing the right kind of space for parents and families to be involved in the college admissions process:

University of Virginia:

I like the way UVA outlines information for parents in an accessible way. Nothing is more frustrating than having a question and trying to navigate some schools labyrinth like website to locate it. I often get questions from parents about how their students will be advised and what activities they will be able to participate in. UVA presents that information clearly and in one location.

University of Iowa:

Iowa has a great resource on their Parent and Family section called “Why Iowa.” This whole process is about helping students find the best fit and this resource is given from a parent’s perspective. It outlines all those fun facts parents like to know like outcomes and graduating on time and it does it in one location.

University of Kansas:

What KU does right is let parents know that they are an important piece of the process: You’re the expert. They also touch on the issues that are most important for parents and families – price, safety, academic quality and outcomes.

According to the laws of biology, parents, families and prospective students are a packaged deal. How is your institution communicating with them and making creating a safe landing spot for the ever circling “helicopter parents.”


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The #EDtech Conversation

I had a really interesting conversation last night with Jake from Carnegie Communications. You all are probably pretty familiar with them by now, but if you’re not, I’d recommend (as an outsider to both the company and actual industry) getting acquainted. It’s a pretty legit team. That’s an aside…more like a forward, I guess.

Regardless, Jake and I were having a conversation about ed tech, and our conversation was (for a moment) focused on the fact that when people think “ed tech,” their minds pretty much jump to MOOCs. That’s all people were talking about in 2013. It’s pretty much all that people are still talking about—7 of the 10 most recent articles on Inside Higher Education’s technology page are on MOOCs and online learning. I get it. But ed tech goes FAR beyond this. Technology that supports education involves student tracking systems, predictive modeling, marketing, search, and an array of other tools.

While these tools might not be directly linked to learning, students won’t get to the learning part of college without many of them. And, if they do, maybe they’re learning at the wrong institution, taking the wrong classes, or are ill-prepared for the course load they’ve signed up for. I’m not suggesting that students can’t make good decisions on their own—they can and they do every day.

What I’m suggesting is that there are so many tools available to institutions that can optimize the student experience. We’re in an age of being able to build and track phenomenal relationships, effectively learn from historical data, and predict future outcomes, thus building more attainable and focused strategies. Institutions have the tools available to recruit, retain, and graduate students at greater rates. It’s just a matter of having the ability to adopt a new mindset and a willingness to try something new—even if it’s just a demo.

It’s time to start shifting the conversation from MOOCs to a more all-encompassing approach to ed tech.

Keep up with technology. Read up on trends and new products. Respect the fact that your CRM is just as important as the seats (or computers) in the classroom that it helps to fill. Spread the knowledge on your campus. Write a blog. Share an article. Take someone to coffee. Share your passion. Above all, keep your mind open—always.

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Coffee (x) = Enrollment Goal: #EMchat Guest Blogger @NL_Spencer

Nathan Spencer (@NL_Spencer)

Nathan Spencer (@NL_Spencer) is in his first year of work in higher education. He is currently an Admissions Counselor at Abilene Christian University, in Abilene, TX. Originally from Missouri, Nathan primarily focuses on out-of-state recruiting. A world traveler and science nerd, he is interested in where diversity and innovation meet to form a better college experience. Nathan holds a B.S. in Psychology from Abilene Christian University.
Nathan is this week’s #EMchat guest: “New to EM?” – join us on April 3rd at 9pm EST/ 8pm CST! 


Congratulations! You’ve just started your new job in enrollment management and must now begin working to achieve your enrollment goal and help “land” the class. Let’s take stock for a minute. Business cards, check. Computer, check. Phone, check. Random desk objects, check. Now that you have all the essentials in place, time to get started!

I have now been an Admissions Counselor for 10 months or about 355.3 cups of coffee. Although this can seem like a very long time in enrollment management when you are new, I can still remember the feeling immediately after I sat down in my brand new office. Now what. Sitting now, in my slightly less new office, many cups of coffee later, I think I have an idea of how to succeed in enrollment management, care

That’s a little simplistic I admit but I think it is what has allowed me to succeed so far and it’s what I see in those veterans that have been in the field much longer than I haveIt’s often said that enrollment management is a a “2 or 20″ field and I think caring is what makes the difference. I care about the general goal of helping connect people with great educational experiences. I care about using my specific university to help give people that great educational experience and I care about helping the individual student find there way to the perfect college fit. 

The fact that I care does not make me a better person, it just means that I have the extraordinary opportunity to love what I do. Because of that, I feel confident in my ability to succeed. As I continue along in the enrollment management world, I hope I never lose that and I hope that my fellow rookies won’t either. 

401.5 by the way. That’s how many cups of coffee I anticipate it will take to help me reach my enrollment goal. A whole lot of coffee topped with some care, that’s what it is going to take. So, what’s it going to take to get you to your goal?  


Nathan is this Thursday’s #EMchat guest: “New to EM?”.  Join us April 3, 2014 at 9pm EST / 8pm CST — use the hash: #EMchat. 

This Week on #EMchat: Enhanced iBooks & New Recruitment Tools

One thing I love about #EMchat is the fact that we get to learn something new each week. We get to see innovative tools in the field and connect with people we may have not known about before. I’m excited to say that one of these companies is Tosler. This week we’ll be welcoming Jake Mueller, co-founder and VP to talk about enhanced iBooks and new recruitment tools. We’ve got a great round of questions planned and are looking forward to seeing what your institutions are using and how your tools have transformed over the last few years. Join in at 9PM ET this Thursday for the conversation! We asked the Tosler team to pull together some thoughts for the post below — it’s a great read!


The world of College Viewbooks is changing. Prospective students are growing up surrounded by technology. They surf the web, read on their devices, and share their lives, all on mobile. These actions center on digital content. They consume digitally. It’s a foreign concept to us old folks, but it’s their world. When the 1 to 1 program was implemented in LA, Students overrode the social media restrictions built by adults. In one day.

As a result, Higher Ed institutions must shift to digital content to reach the up and coming generation. Producing a digital viewbook is the best way to start. There are currently over 10 million iPads in primary-secondary education, 94% of tablets in education are iPads, and the number of 1 to 1 programs is exploding. Not only are these numbers impressive, they are already outdated as of the writing of this article. Some institutions have turned to mobile apps to fill the digital viewbook role (U of Dayton, U of Chicago). With enhanced iBooks, however, converting to digital is not only more affordable, but it is also quicker than producing/out-sourcing a mobile app. Additionally, using enhanced iBooks provides access to the intuitive and popular iBookstore. Many high school students use the iBookstore already for textbook curriculum and general reading. Thus the tech-savvy college reaches the student on their own turf and displays an important generational awareness.

Typical print publications are expensive, less engaging, and provide no analytics. You print the material, mail it off, and never know how many students open the front page or toss it in the trash. With enhanced iBooks, you receive measures of engagement and measures of downloads. Armed with these analytics, colleges can study the effectiveness of their recruitment campaigns or college fair attendance. Real figures for real ROI.

Ultimately high school students eat, live, breath digital. And if they don’t already, they will be in a year. Every Institution of Higher Learning must meet their recruits on mobile. It’s a fact, not a question. The question is, how? 

Enhanced iBooks.

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This Week’s #EMchat – Customer Service: PointAcross Solutions

This week’s #EMchat guest is Colleen Sheehan, Senior VP at PointAcross Solutions. PointAcross Solutions blends communication technology and design to bridge the communication gap between video and email – all with an eye toward helping partner schools reach their recruitment, retention and revenue goals. This week’s chat focuses on customer service in the enrollment management space and we hope that you’ll join us Thursday night at 9PM EST!

We’ve reblogged one of their posts below that highlights communications with prospective and current students. You can read this post directly on PointAcross Solutions’ blog, along with all sorts of other great pieces.


 One of the best sessions at the NACUBO Student Financial Services conference this week was a panel with three college students talking about communications, including their preferences and how college administrators can better reach their peers.

Here are three tips on how to reach students more effectively:

1. Email is the best way to reach students.

This has been debated over and over, with many surveys proclaiming email is still relevant and other findings saying email is ineffective. The fact remains most schools require students to check their student email accounts. To make your emails more effective, make sure you:

  • Keep subject lines short, sweet and relevant
  • Edit out fluff, keep action dates and links clear, and don’t mix social updates and administrative responsibilities
  • Include tutorials, where possible. Most schools say their phones ring off the hook when they send important emails, so offset some of these calls by helping students (and parents) self-serve more effectively

2. Selectively use Twitter, Facebook and text messaging.

Communicating with students via different channels has its pros and cons, and there’s no clear answer when it comes to whether you should be using these outlets or not. One college Bursar admitted his office has been on Twitter for years, yet with only 80 followers he knows he’s not reaching even 1% of the student body via Twitter.

 The student panelists all said it’s fine to use these channels, but use them selectively. Use Facebook to push messages out, but make it clear you’re not trying to take over students’ social feeds. While Twitter may be a good way to push deadlines, dates and forms, don’t worry about tweeting multiple times a day or about pleasantries like “have a good weekend.” Keep it relevant and simple.

As for text messaging from administrative offices, the students all agreed it had to be personal. “Don’t group text us,” they said, “but if we know it’s something directly related[to us], a text will get our attention.” That means more work on your end segmenting your lists and contacts, but the return will be higher.

3. Video tutorials are helpful, as long as they aren’t on YouTube.

 The students loved the idea of audio-visual tutorials and said some of their schools were creating these for important processes. They all pointed to PowerPoint as helpful to students and parents alike to share screenshots and walk them through next-steps. However, there was a collective and strong caution against putting these tutorials on YouTube. Videos hosted on your site and embedded in email will help both students and parents complete the processes you want with fewer errors and distractions.

 As your school looks to improve communications and create smooth processes related to Student Financial Services, take a cue directly from your target audience and keep these tips in mind. If you’d like to see how our schools are using eMessages to better meet the needs of parents and students, give us a call.

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#EMchat Celebrates 100!

On Thursday, March 6, 2014, we’re going to be holding our 100th #EMchat session. That boggles my mind. It’s true that if you look at our calendar, it looks like this chat will be our 97th. But, it’s not. In the early days of creating transcripts for our chats, I (Alex) messed up a few times and never got them documented, and as Tim Dunning will happily comment…I then messed up the numbering.

No fear. We’re not rushing things by a few weeks.

This is the real deal.Centenarian birthday candles spell out '100'

100 hours of enrollment management chats. If we did that straight through starting today (Wednesday) at 3PM, we’d finish at 7PM on Sunday. No sleep. Probably lots of good drinks. Epic professional development.

I don’t think that we could have ever imagined that a six letter hashtag would create such a phenomenal community. So, thanks.

In honor of our [hour] chat centennial, share your favorite past chats and topics with us. Share the connections you’ve forged through this community. Share your thoughts on #EMchat as professional development. Share whatever you want.

I’m sharing my thanks.

And this:

Favorite Past Chat: We’ve had a few chats on social media and it’s definitely one of my favorite topics. I liked this one the best because when looked at in comparison with past chats, it’s great to see how the industry has advanced over the last two years. #EMchat 89: Social Media

Connections Formed: Well, this number just keeps growing. I’m so thankful to have been able to make the connections I have over the last 100 chats both online and in real life. In addition, many of the connections I’ve formed here have been integral in pushing me back into the industry (as I’m currently in the job hunt) and have provided their connections to me for guidance and leads. As far as a personal project I’m working on, #EMchat provides a pretty solid (not to mention super smart) group of people to ping my ideas off of as the product is built.

Professional Development: Who would have known that a Twitter chat could transform into a fantastic, free professional development tool? But it has. I learn something new multiple times a day. Questions, resources, companies, trends. You name it and you can find it in the #EMchat feed. I look forward to blog posts from our contributors who drop serious knowledge. And, I’m proud to be a part of this community.

Additional Share: I’m glad that you all now know how much I absolutely love Dogfish beers. That really means a lot to me.

In seriousness, thanks a million and here’s to another 100!

Come celebrate with us on Thursday at 9PM EST!


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Communicating and Communicating Well.

Last night I had the opportunity to read this article from Gil Rogers. I liked it from the second I read the title: “Right Message. Right Time. Right Channel.” If you haven’t read it, the post is about ensuring that your communication strategy aligns with said title and pulls on the stats from the recently released State of College Admissions Report.

Here’s what resonated with me most from it:

“The reality is that at the end of the recruitment cycle when you report to your Vice President why you did not achieve your enrollment goals, not that many people get fired for buying more names. That’s because buying more names is the norm. It’s the traditional way of squeezing a little more water out of the rock to boost selectivity by getting a few more applications. One could argue that if you had invested your resources more wisely up front, you wouldn’t be in such a tough position come reporting time.”

Gil’s right. Buying more names is the norm. And, some companies that pull those lists together are able to do a fantastic job at providing a highly targeted list that will give you a decent return. Some of those companies are also very expensive.

So how can institutions invest their resources more wisely up front? And, what are we considering when we use the term “resource?” Every fall, admissions reps hit the ground and offices allocate both human and financial capital to make this happen. Road warriors are the “up front” of admissions. Each year, strategic EM’ers map out travel plans that they believe will net them the greatest ROI.

The main events during travel season are college fairs. They offer the chance to meet some amazing prospective students (and some not-so-much, to be fair), interact with school counselors, and build relationships that will hopefully turn into applications. Aside from the conversations at the tables, after a college fair, communication with students, counselors, and families pretty much comes to a halt…for weeks…months. Data has to be brought back to the institution and manually uploaded before targeted communications actually commence. Missed opportunities doesn’t even begin to sum it up.

But, what if you could upload student data immediately (virtually), avoiding the road card fiasco, and not worry about having to begin a conversation with prospects all over again. You’d simply continue the conversation. You’d leave a stronger impression. You‘d get more leads and because of enhanced efficiency in the data collection and evaluation process, end up with higher quality ones as well. What’s better is that the product that affords you higher quality communications also provides benefits to those on the other side as well—the ones who the college search process is really about. Students. We know students can’t (and shouldn’t) do it alone, so we’re including school counselors in the mix, too.

And that’s about all I can say.

Excited to hear about your college fair experiences this Thursday at 9PM ET! And, if this post piqued your interest at all, let’s chat.

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Yield Season, not “Wait and See” Season

February, March and April are three of the most important months in college admissions and recruitment offices. You’ve built your applicant pool and sent out admission packages, but how exactly are you engaging this group of students from mid-winter until May 1?  (Or June 1, or even later, in some cases.) Are any real conversations and interactions taking place, or is your admitted student pool just “out there” quietly awaiting your next e-mail about a spring open house?

If you really need to reach an enrollment goal, if you continuously lose too many students to your competitors, then you might need to beef up your office’s wintertime outreach activity to each and every admitted student, and maybe even to some “outliers” who have not yet applied.  This doesn’t mean sending out a few more e-mail blasts. It’s time for the recruiters to really step up to the plate.

What are some practical, important reasons to contact students at this point in the recruitment cycle? Here are just a few that come to mind:

  • Remind students about FAFSA filing. A well-trained admission staff can walk students and their parents through the process, provide encouragement, and help determine affordability.
  • Encourage the ever-important campus visit. Point families to your web pages to register for open houses. Offer to meet them personally.
  • Has a student already visited?  Make that follow-up contact to see which questions may still be unanswered. How can you address any lingering uncertainties?
  • Are financial award packages already making their way to families’ mailboxes? Recruiters should follow up on the award letters, making sure families have received and understand the awards, and directing them to proper persons for answers to more detailed aid questions.
  • Talk to students about the timing of “next steps” in the enrollment process: the May 1 deposit, orientation information, placement testing.
  • Check in with students (or parents) periodically to learn about objections or impediments that are making the decision difficult.  Listen to the answers. Jump the hurdles with them. Offer assistance in finding solutions. Families will be appreciative of this effort.

Spread the love! In this age of information clutter, I believe that students and parents still enjoy personal attention from a recruiter, whatever avenues you choose to utilize for this purpose– social media, Skype conversations, e-mail, phone calls, or even hand-written note cards. Require staff to set a certain amount of time aside each day or evening for this activity. And not just “one and done” follow-up. Track the activities to find out which students are paying attention and responding, and then reach out again appropriately. Solicit help from others on campus for outreach projects. Points for creativity!

Good recruiters realize that this work requires tenacity. There is no magic formula, and some students still cannot or will not enroll at your college despite your best efforts. In the end though, attention to detail pays off. You will definitely enroll many more students using a hands-on approach, rather than just allowing three months of wait-and-see.

Happy recruiting!  (Hey, May 1 also means warm weather!)

Karen Full

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