by: Mine Racho
In the dynamic and competitive field of higher education, the admissions process serves as a key factor in the attraction and retention of students. Despite ongoing efforts by institutions to streamline and optimise the process, there remains room for improvement. This blog presents the top 10 lessons we have learned on student admissions from working with different institutions, with some practical recommendations enhance admissions processes.
- Have a sufficient and useful pre-application information
- This includes providing contact numbers, video clips, and easily accessible FAQs in language that students understand, as well as providing information on scheduling and time commitments for courses. By providing this information upfront, students can make informed decisions about their education and balance their other commitments accordingly.
- Build easy to use online forms that function well
- It is difficult for applicants to use online forms and application processes for universities. Even though institutions claim their processes are self-sufficient, applicants often need support. The forms ask for too much information and are not clear on what information is necessary for admissions. Simplify the form by determining the essential information that needs to be collected and not ask for more than what you need.
- Target students at risk; Segment the student cohorts to understand their specific needs; have proactive contact
- Segment student cohorts based on their specific needs and characteristics, such as international students, post-grads, and school leavers, and use data to identify students at risk. It’s important to not come up with too many cohorts, but to segregate them enough to effectively target and support them. Proactively reach out to these students, and offer support to reduce the likelihood of them failing.
- Maximise data and reporting; track student intakes
- Track student intakes in real time and be proactive in addressing potential dropouts. It is important to agree on definitions and sources of data and to use it promptly, as data after the event is less useful. Universities traditionally have been reactive and should adopt a more proactive approach.
- Codify your entry criteria
- Clearly define and make easily accessible the entry criteria for students interested in pursuing a degree/program. This includes ensuring transparency and standardisation in the criteria, and making it easily accessible on all pages of your institution’s website.
- Automate your assessment/entry criteria
- Consider automating the assessment and processing of applications to ease the burden on your admissions teams, who are often overwhelmed with thousands of applications. By automating simple criteria, such as domestic undergraduate entry based on ATAR, institutions can streamline the application process and free up time for admissions teams to deal with more complex cases and can help your institution to move towards greater efficiency and avoid being overwhelmed.
- Ensure timely communications including a mix of excitement and steps
- Effective communication is essential throughout the student journey, and timely, targeted communications can make a big difference in increasing acceptance and conversion rates. Use a mix of exciting and practical steps in communications and consider incorporating videos to add a personal touch. Avoid overwhelming students with too much information and focus on what is most important.
- Create cross-organisation working groups to share knowledge regularly
- It is important to create cross-organisation working groups that meet regularly to share knowledge and assess data in real-time. These groups should include the right people from across the organisation who are able to agree on certain steps and actions and make the required changes. This approach helps break down any ‘Us versus Them’ mentality and makes admissions everybody’s business. Having faculty representatives on these working groups can be a big asset and can make a real difference in decision-making processes.
- Understand Roles and responsibilities across the organisation – Create surge workforce for busy times
- The nature of admissions involves peaks and troughs, and it is essential to handle the peak times effectively by having a surge workforce from other parts of the organisation. This surge workforce can come from faculties or other departments, and they can help with simple admissions tasks to take the load off the admissions team. The key is to set a standard for admissions and meet it consistently all year round. Having a surge workforce ensures that admissions offers can be made quickly, which is crucial for attracting students.
- Effective Credit at Assessment
- Some universities process credit at the same time as admissions, but this can lead to delays and potential loss of students. Others separate credit and admissions, allowing for faster offer times but potentially leaving students without knowledge of their credit. The ideal situation is to provide credit with the offer within 48 hours. While most institutions do not have an effective system for this, ensure that you consider what your students would prefer and work to improve your credit process.
If you have questions or need help in with your admissions process, contact DVE at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our team of experts are here to help.