This week I attended one of the bigger conferences that serves the proprietary education sector. Although many of the attendees are saying that the numbers are still down from years past, there was a dose of optimism that was in the air as more people have started to come back to the conference now that we are two years removed from the last election.
Under the previous administration, the proprietary education sector was faced with increased rules and regulations that burdened the staff and caused institutions to invest money in areas that weren’t serving the student and their educational pursuits.
During this time schools also faced daily bad press that provoked prospective students to be cautious of where they decided to pursue higher education. Couple this with the ongoing national discussion around the student loan debt crisis and it was a recipe for tighter budgets, less staff, and schools seeking ways to maintain viability because there were fewer people interested in their institutions.
Under the current presidential administration there is optimism in the air as some of the rules and regulations are put on hold or funding is cut off. Resources are also being allocated to help the same schools get back to operating on an even playing field in the higher education sector.
With record low unemployment and employers looking for skilled labor due to a growing economy. All higher education institutions providing students with skills, certifications, diplomas, and degrees, are in demand and necessary to provide the marketplace with a skilled labor force.
Unfortunately, because the previous administration was focused on limiting higher education options, the skills gap that exists in the marketplace has been increased over the past several years.
These schools have a tall task to help meet the current demands of the marketplace, while also developing and investing into programs of study to meet the skills that will be required in the marketplace in the future.
With any decision I have ever made during my lifetime, I have always made better ones when presented with more information and several options. Additionally, when presented with a problem where I have had different solutions to choose from, I have typically made the right decision for me at the time when I was able to look at several available options.
So options and choices have allowed me to make the best decisions for me. Without a few options I may have made the decision to pursue one thing, because that is all I knew at the time. It may have not been the best fit, but if I didn’t have many choices I had no choice but to pick something.
The value of multiple options, especially in higher education, is that a prospective students learns more than they need to know when they are looking at the different options to choose from. This process is the learning process that helps them make the best decision for themselves.
It is like several years ago when I was looking for a gym to go to. I had two options originally. I had a gym that I really liked that would open up at 7 am. They had great equipment, a pool, and sauna. Another gym that I was interested in opened up at 5 am, but it did not have a sauna. But it also had a great equipment. At that time, I chose to go to the gym that opened at 5 am because that fit my schedule better. Luckily I had the two options.
Then you fast forward a few years forward and I ended up becoming a member of a gym that I could go to 24/7. At that time, I was getting up earlier and I wanted the flexibility on the weekends to go whenever I wanted. Once again, because I had options, I was able to make the best decision for me and for my life.
All institutions of higher education have different paths, programs, support, services, focuses. You name it. And when these options are not available to prospective students, then a person may have to decide on one or the other, that may not be the best fit for what they want to accomplish and how they want to go about accomplishing it.
Bottom line is options provide us education and knowledge to make the best decision for us and our situation. When it comes to higher education this benefits all of the parties involved. The prospective students, the schools, and the taxpayers who provide funding through federal student loan programs.
After attending the conference this week, that is what I am most excited about. Regardless of your form of ownership the government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers in business.
Yes I said in business. All schools are businesses, if they don’t make more money than they spend, they will no longer exist. This why I am thankful for an even playing field where the business that wins, is the business that serves the customer the best based on what that customer needs and wants.
To your success and your future.
I have this one friend who I grew up with and went to high school with. He is a great guy. He has a great personality. He is a hard worker. He does the right thing.
Since high school, we don’t hang out at all, but over the last twenty-one years. Yes. That is how long ago I graduated from high school. We will see each other every few years in passing.
The conversations I have had with him over the last twenty-one years are always the same. He is either about to get in to something that will change everything for him. Or, he is getting over something that he got involved in that was really difficult. It is always the same story.
The people on the job were out to get him. Or this next job will be the best job ever, and he will make so much money. He was in a relationship and she took everything he had. Or, he is currently in a relationship and she is amazing.
In reality, we all know that it isn’t the job, it isn’t the people on the job. It isn’t the old girlfriend. Nope. It is him. He is the problem. He is impulsive. He doesn’t know what he wants. He changes like the wind. He has never taken the time to make changes in himself to have the life he wants.
The chances are you have met this person before as well. We all have a friend or a former friend like this.
I believe that Higher Education is a lot like this friend of mine. Especially when it comes to marketing and enrollments. Most institutions are looking at the next big thing with digital marketing and online strategies. They are buying lists and creating elaborate strategies to these lists. They are focused on the next new and shiny object. They either just purchased something and are really excited about the possibility that it will solve all of their enrollment problems. Or they are coming out of contract that promised to do the same thing. And it didn’t.
And just like that friend of mine, who never took the time to take a look at himself, and work on him. Higher education institutions haven’t invested the time or energy in their most important piece of their marketing and enrollment process, which is investing in the people who are responsible for their recruiting efforts.
The next new and shiny object will always be right around the corner, or it is already in front of your face. The next software that promises to bring more leads and retain more applications is always going to be pitched to your school. But all of those systems and processes will never be as good as your people “could be”.
Yes. I said it. Your institution will never be as good as it could be, until you take the time and money and invest it in the people who work for the schools skill development.
Todays world is different from yesterdays. You know that. In an SMS (Text Message) world, a Social Media world, an email world, people are not equipped to communicate the way we really want to be communicated with.
If you have a younger staff, the chances are they haven’t been trained or really know how to develop personal connections with people on a face to face level. They are not comfortable with it. They don’t know how to do it.
If they are responsible for recruiting students to your school, then you will never get the results your institution could get with all of these new digital strategies to engage more students. Because at the end of the day, someone has to get on a phone or sit down with someone face to face and have a conversation that inspires that prospective student to take action. And that is a skill that has to be taught and trained on.
This morning I read four different articles from very reputable sources in higher education on how to stop declining enrollments. Not one of them mentioned skill development of the Admissions staff and people who are responsible for enrollment for a college or university.
As I told my friend the last time I saw him. I am going to suggest the same to higher education institutions and their management. Focus on you is what I told my friend. That next job will work out if you are better. The next girlfriend won’t be that bad if you first figure out what you want out of a relationship and then go and find the right person that can provide that for you. Fix you first.
Higher Education can spend all the money they want on these new and old digital strategies, traditional marketing, and any thing else. But until they look inward and focus on developing the skills of the people interacting with their students and prospective students they will never get the results they want.
To your success and your future.
Brian Willett Group created the Admissions Advantage. This is a process on how to recruit and retain prospective students to a college or university. More importantly, the Admissions Advantage develops skills and self confidence in the participants of the training. This one thing will change the whole enrollment process. If you want to learn more about the Admissions Advantage click this link
Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been in the higher education sector for the last fifteen years of my career. Primarily working with admissions managers and admissions representatives. I have worked in the for-profit sector, the non-profit private sector, and even the public sector.
As a manager myself for many years, and as a consultant for just as many, I have found the following 21 ideas, things, excuses, or whatever you want to call them. To be true in every one of the higher education groups I have worked with.
I am not only blaming the admissions representatives or the schools themselves for this lack of motivation. They are all in it together. From the top down, everybody has to be held accountable and understand the mission. And no matter what your Tax status says you are. For-Profit, Non-Profit, or Public, no institution would exist if they didn’t have students paying tuition.
Ultimately, this responsibility falls on the admissions representatives and the admissions managers. They are both equally responsible for the livelihood of the school.
Here are 21 things that could help you diagnose the problem you might have on your team right now. I am not going to solve your problem in this blog post. However, the first step to all change is realizing that you need to make a change.
After you read the post, if you feel like your team needs some additional skills please reach out to me. I have perfected a training system for Admissions Teams. We call our product the Admissions Advantage.
Do you want an advantage for your team and your school? If so, let’s have a conversation. If not, use this information and make the necessary changes. It is up to you.
21. They don’t like their job
I don’t know why they don’t like their job. It could be a variety of different reasons. They don’t believe in what they do, or they don’t believe in the leadership. You need to find out why and see if this can change. If not, you know what needs to be done.
20. They don’t see a career path for growth.
On the first day of the job everybody wants to know two things. After they learn how much they are getting paid. What is it that I am responsible for? And where do I fit in here? They want to see where they are now and where they could be in the future. Show them.
19. They don’t know the bigger picture.
Show them the marketing budget, show them the instructional budget, show them everything. And then show them how the revenue they generate from the students they enroll make the budget work.
18. You have some toxic people on the team bringing everyone else down.
Who are the negative people. All teams have them. You have to get rid of them ASAP. Why haven’t you? Quit waiting.
17. They don’t get respect from other departments
Admissions representatives are going to push other people to do things they don’t want to do. They should do it respectively, but at the same time, they need to have the respect across the board from the other departments. Everybody in the institution needs to know that without students none of them will exist. Period.
16. They are too focused on their next steps instead of the current step they are on.
If we aren’t happy in what we are doing we are going to be looking for what the next step is. In many colleges and schools this is usually being done on the schools dime. With additional educational benefits. I am a fan of this, but admissions representatives must be doing their full-time job first.
15. They have too much free time.
Free time is not good for any of us. Especially an admissions representative. If your people are not seeing enough prospective students then you have to figure out a way to get everyone busier. Too much free time will make them lazy and they will get in trouble.
14. They don’t know the consequences of missing budget or goals
When is the last time you wrote someone up or let someone go because of a lack of performance. I understand that everybody got a little scared under the previous administration and the rules. However, if you don’t have consequences for not doing your job, then mediocrity will creep in and kill your school.
13. They don’t know what excellence looks like
I have seen it a hundred times. You have one person that is killing it. And that becomes the standard. What if their standard is not that high though? Then everybody else is trying to live up to a low standard. Get some A players in and set some new standards.
12. They don’t know what it means to own something
If your staff is younger, the chances are they haven’t lived long enough to truly own something. You must teach them how to own their career and their goals on the job. This will keep them motivated to performing.
11. They are short timers
You have some people who just took this job because it is the one they were offered. And you were sold in the interview. If this is the case get them out and make them really short timers.
10. Top leadership doesn’t remind them of how important they are.
A supervisor must be setting the standard every single day and showing the team appreciation. However, the top leadership must do it often as well. It just means more when they hear it from the top leadership.
9. Direct supervisors are uninspiring.
If you are a manager and are reading this. I am sorry. It has just been my experience. The question I have for you. Are you motivated? If not. Why not? What can you do to get excited again?
8. They don’t know what accountability is.
Accountability is a bad word. Everybody says they like it until they get it. But without it, there is no motivation to do better. You must have systems in place that not only inspire the team to perform better, but you also have to have systems in place that show them when they don’t and what happens if they continue to not perform well.
7. They are too close for their own good.
If your institution has hired a lot of graduates of your school then you know what I mean here. They are either selling the schools features too hard and their experiences, or they talk to candidly about all of the problems with the school. Either way, you have to teach them some skills to eliminate some of these tendencies.
6. They know they aren’t very good and they are being allowed to stay.
Most people know when they aren’t performing very well. And if they are being allowed to do it, they will just ride it out as long as they can. Why not. Especially if this is your first position in your career. Management must figure this out immediately and make the changes.
5. They aren’t bought in.
Again this is a management problem. If you have some people on the team they aren’t bought in, you must figure out why. And it all starts with creating a plan for their career and their growth while there. Everybody needs to see how they can grow in their career and make more money ultimately. When you do this. They will buy in to this path and their current position.
4. They lack the communication skills required.
If you suck at communication, which unfortunately is not a skill that is learned the way it used to be. Then you aren’t going to be able to communicate to people internally or to your prospective students in a way that encourages them and motivates them to want to attend school.
3. They haven’t learned any people skills.
Similar to communication. People skills aren’t being taught the way they used to be. The bottom line is that we have to teach people what basic people skills are, and then build upon that and teach them what it means to influence other people.
2. They are scared to be assertive.
If you have grown up being passive and have never been taught what it means to take initiave and make things happen, then you wont know how to do it. You have to show them how.
1. They don’t have the self-confidence.
Some people think that the younger generation has too much self-confidence when they get on the job. However, they don’t have the self-confidence to do what it takes to get people to walk through the doors to your institution. This requires the confidence to say hard things and be assertive and direct with parents and their peers. This again, is not something that is being taught, but it can be taught.
Wherever you are reading this blog, I would love to get your feedback and thoughts. Do you agree? Disagree? What else would you add?
Here is the one thing that I want to share. All of the ideas in this article can be trained. You can increase a persons self-confidence by increasing their skills. If you aren’t investing in your admissions representatives development. And I don’t mean formal education. I mean real skill development on how to communicate to people to take action, phone skills to get people to call you back, and all the skills required to perform at their job better. Reach out to me and let’s have a conversation and see if the Admissions Advantage could help your institution.
To your success and your future.