Balancing the “Bottom Line” and Your Students’ Success

3 ways to maximize your CRM on a tight budget

In a year overcome by a pandemic, colleges and universities are trying to find creative ways to stay in the black. They will need to survive the lagging effects of a declining economy and higher unemployment for a couple years. But the real bottom line for non-profit institutions should be student success. Many institutions are facing cutbacks. All of these reductions paired with the lower enrollment numbers faced by non-profit institutions and community colleges, could lead to a drop in retention across campuses.

Retention is also measured after the first year and unfortunately, transfer enrollment has also seen a decline. While the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported a 2.6% increase in upward transfers, all other categories saw a decline of around 4.7%. Combining this with recent data released about FAFSA completion rates from high school seniors, currently at a 14.3% decline from last year, a picture begins to be painted that does not bode well for institutions across the United States. First and foremost, there are less high school seniors for institutions to recruit which means those students will be bombarded with thousands of pieces of marketing from hundreds of institutions. Your institution will need to cut through the clutter and be recognized as somewhere the student wants to be, virtually or in person. In addition, the changes last fall to NACAC’s code of ethics means your current students will also be receiving marketing to encourage them to transfer to a peer institution. And if your institution is bringing in a smaller first-year cohort, the rate of retention across your institution becomes paramount to meeting your bottom line.

We know that Slate can give your recruitment team many avenues to assist in enrolling first year students and transfers. But how can Slate help you maintain (or even increase) quality engagement to retain your current students? Here are three ways you might already be using to recruit for first years and transfers translated to current student engagement:

  1. Automate your communication using campaigns and triggered mailings!
    • A great way to automate is by utilizing Slate’s email campaign structure for populations. Craft populations relevant to your student success office and send poignant messaging on the first day of school, the 7th day, and so on. Make these messages relevant to each population at the right time and make it very personal. You want the student to know you care about them and their success as they begin this school year.
    • Another way to automate communications is by having mailings triggered off of Ping. Ping can show you where students are going on your website. If a student spends enough time on the financial aid page, trigger a mailing that gives them some extra information and encourages them to meet with a financial aid officer on campus or virtually. The student will be receiving relevant communications pertinent to their current concern and that will have an impact on their decision to help themselves succeed at your institution.
  2. Personalize your communication with conditional logic!
    • Don’t send out generic emails that could apply to anyone. Students will begin to tune out those emails and immediately trash them. Make sure you are addressing the student in your messaging and then use conditional logic to display information based on different actions you have seen them take. Have they attended a meeting with you already? Don’t show that as the first option anymore in their list of to-dos for success or give it a green checkmark to make them feel accomplished.
  3. Prioritize your staff’s list of students in need of help by integrating with your cross-campus software solutions!
    • Integration with your campus SIS, LMS, and ERP solutions is essential to having a one-stop shop for students and your staff. Utilizing information brought over to Slate, your student success staff will only need to look in one place to get the information they need about a student. You can also build out risk factor calculations which allow you to show your staff who really needs attention.
    • Ideally, you would have a data feed daily to Slate so that these numbers can be updated regularly as the different factors for success are updated in the appropriate software across campus.
    • Your staff can then have queries for high-risk individuals, potentially those scoring 7-10 on a 10-point scale. This list of students will be their target for the week and your staff can send personalized messages or invite them to schedule a meeting to talk through what might be causing them to slip and be at risk for dropping out.

All of this can get your term started off right – not just for your students’ success – but for your staff’s success as well. Because when staff have more time freed up by automation, they have a higher capacity for creating time to connect with the students. And in times like these, genuine human connections are what will encourage our staff, faculty, and students’ success!