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There has been a lot of media attention lately in the higher education community about FAFSA position codes. Unfortunately, at least a couple of these articles had sensationalized headlines implying that this very important data was being misused by schools, against students.
First of all, what are we talking about? On the paper FAFSA application, students are given the option to indicate up to four colleges where they wish to have the FAFSA data sent. On the electronic application, they can include 10 institutions.
While the text on the FAFSA does not ask the student to rank the student’s choice (i.e., which school is the student’s first-choice institution), the order a student lists an institution does appear to correlate to a student’s interest in that college or university. Consider the following results from campuses using Noel-Levitz financial aid services:
In an analysis of 153 of our campus partners, students enrolled at a 64 percent rate at the campuses listed first on their FAFSA. The yield dropped to 22 percent in position two and to 16 percent in position three. Students yielded at about the same rate in the remaining positions as those who did not file a FAFSA at all (12 percent). These trends were similar for both public and private colleges/universities.
Co-written with Brian Jansen of Noel-Levitz
As the National Candidates’ Reply Date of May 1 quickly approaches, you may find yourself looking back on the past recruitment cycle and weighing how well your team was able to cultivate your prospective student population for the incoming class. As you do so, consider the following questions in your evaluation:
- Did you use a shotgun approach when purchasing names in your student search efforts? Did you experience less than stellar response and conversion rates? What percentage of your enrolled population came from your search name purchases, and are you satisfied with the outcome?
- Were your counselors struggling to build early and solid relationships with prospective students due to a large inquiry or applicant pool? Do you feel that your counselors are unable to truly make impactful and influential phone contacts with students/families due to the size of your pool of students at each stage of the funnel?
- Was there a lack of prioritization or absence of segmentation when communicating with prospective students? Would you deem your communication flow/plan as a “one-size-fits-all” approach?
- Did budget cuts limit your ability to work the prospective student funnel efficiently and effectively?
- Did the size of your inquiry and/or applicant pool shrink?
- Did your counselors travel extensively in secondary and tertiary markets?
Our new white paper, 7 Categories of Admissions Data to Guide Decision Making, discusses how your campus can use admissions data to make strategic decisions and measure and set institutional enrollment goals. Of the seven categories, historical trend data—including conversion and yield rates—play a major role when analyzing performance, identifying trends, and setting future goals.
In its analysis of conversion and yield rates, the paper introduces two “new” metrics (pictured in green above) among the following seven measures of admissions funnel performance, which help to guide the recruitment, admissions, and enrollment process:
Graduate enrollment has long been an important component of many institutions’ overall enrollment picture. However, in recent years, we have seen institutions giving even greater attention to their graduate recruitment and enrollment practices, especially in the many areas of the country where the high school graduate pool is shrinking and undergraduate enrollment is challenged.
This increased interest in graduate enrollment is raising new questions about the most effective practices for attracting and recruiting graduate students. To help address this need for information, Noel-Levitz and the National Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals (NAGAP) partnered this spring to survey the nation’s graduate recruitment and admissions professionals to find out what they think are the most effective recruitment practices to recruit master’s degree students.
The survey asked graduate recruitment professionals to assess the effectiveness of nearly 80 practices across all stages of the graduate recruitment funnel. And because many graduate admissions professionals often ask Noel-Levitz consultants to help them benchmark their funnel rates—especially admit rates and yield rates—the survey also asked for funnel rates, and for practices regarding name purchase practices, as optional questions. (Doctoral student recruitment is often different from master’s recruiting so the survey focused on recruiting master’s students as a starting point for building the knowledge base.)
The report, 2012 Marketing and Student Recruitment Practices for Master’s-Level Graduate Programs, provides an analysis of responses for each of four different Carnegie institution types: private doctorate-granting; public doctorate-granting; private master’s/baccalaureate/specialized institutions; and public master’s/baccalaureate/specialized institutions. (Keep in mind that the survey focused on master’s recruitment at each of these types of institutions.)