There are lots of factors that go into what makes an educational institution successful.
Quality faculty. Well-organized administration. Sufficiently funded programs.
But there is one factor that almost guarantees institutional success: successful students.
At first, it might seem strange that we’re talking about student success on an enrollment marketing blog.
I know I did.
Nate Simpson has a works at the Gates Foundation to make sure students are successful in their higher education pursuits.
It’s a role he’s passionate about.
He works every day with institutions to make sure their incoming students are ultimately successful.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a foundation that has multiple parts. Within the US, we are very focused on supporting improvements around education. [We have initiatives] that go from early learning all the way up to post-secondary. [I work in] our post-secondary success team. I also sit on a team that is focused on improving the connection between education and employment.
Since World War II, higher education institutions have focused on giving more people – such as women and previously segregated ethnicities – access to education.
However, Nate doesn’t believe access to education is enough to give students a real chance at success.
Once students get in, Nate explains that institutions should be “helping them succeed and achieve what they’re hoping to accomplish.”
To make this happen, the Gates Foundation comes alongside schools “to do things differently or make some modifications” so that education institutions can “meet their commitment” to students.
Student success is everyone’s job.
It’s easy to think that once we hand off the student during matriculation we’re done as enrollment marketers.
But the truth is that everyone on campus, and especially us as marketers and enrollment, should be focused on the success of each student.
Many VP’s [of enrollment] are realizing that enrollment isn’t just about getting [students] in. It’s also getting them set up for success so they can complete [their academic journey]. Many institutions have even expanded their enrollment concept to what the overall experience is going to be for the student. Once you get them in, how do you make sure they stay in? And then how do you make sure that they continue to learn and will eventually complete?
In my own experience helping enrollment marketers, I’ve seen institutions pass on new students way too early in the process to student life or to the registrar.
The relationship that was built carefully along the way in the prospective student journey suddenly gets cut off.
By the time they get to move-in weekend, the student has to start all over to create brand-new friendships because they’ve lost the ones they created with the enrollment and marketing team.
Higher education is like marriage.
Once you’re hitched, you need to continue to invest in the relationship, or it won’t last.
There is ongoing communication and marketing to make sure that the student continues to understand the benefits of the school even as they matriculate.
And even when they graduate, I would argue that you want to continue building that relationship through alumni marketing.
It’s one thing to just get prospective students into the relationship. It’s another thing altogether to keep the relationship strong through graduation and on to career success.Click to tweet
Improve student success by focusing on a good “mission-fit.”
Too many schools try to improve enrollment by making incoming student volume the priority.
Rather than asking, how can we make sure these students ultimately succeed, we tend to only ask how can we get more students in the door?
Unfortunately, this approach of do-whatever-it-takes to get new students in the door often produces a large swath of students who are simply not a good fit for the school.
Normally that means they drop out before completing their degree.
Discover more when you listen to the podcast!
Like all of our blog post reviews of The Higher Ed Marketer podcasts, there’s so much more to learn in the podcasts themselves.
Listen to our interview with Nate Simpson to get even more insights into:
- Reimagining the role of VP of Enrollment
- How to get colleges student-ready
- Recruiting students who will stay and succeed
- Helping students achieve what they want to achieve
And unlike a lot of our other guests, you can utilize him in the Gates Foundation as a resource.
So please keep that in mind, as there may be ways you could work with the Foundation in the future.
Don’t want to miss a future episode?
Subscribe to The Higher Ed Marketer podcast today!
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Featured image via gatesfoundation.org