When I worked in admissions for small colleges and had to battle for every student we enrolled, I tried to comprehend the factors that were most predictive of enrollment and that could help in my attempt to best estimate likely enrollment throughout the cycle. The good ol’ fashioned “1,2,3” or “Hot/Medium/Cold” lists still hold water and are effective, but I needed to understand more precisely how impactful these behaviors were and if they truly influenced enrollment.
I found two significant influences, both of which are also known to most enrollment managers:
- If a student completes the FAFSA (and sends their results to you), then they are much more likely to enroll.
- Likewise, students visiting campus in an official capacity are much more likely to enroll than those who do not visit campus.
Having a student both complete the FAFSA and visit campus is a home run. A student who does neither is what I was taught to consider a “rotten banana.” The longer a banana sits, the more rotten it becomes. Along those lines, the longer a student sits in your pool doing neither of these activities, the more their enrollment chances begin to decay.
As I said, this is not a revelation to anyone who has worked in admissions for any significant time. However, in my work as a consultant, I see many campuses that do not know how to incorporate these predictive behaviors into their recruitment planning. By drilling down into the metrics, tracking them, and building plans on that data, you can become much more efficient and effective in your recruitment efforts.