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The Revolution Will Be Data-Based

The Revolution Will Be Data-Based

Admissions offices are on the cusp of a data science revolution.

NACAC last met fully in person in 2019, and something has changed in the last three years.  Admissions offices are on the cusp of a data science revolution.

Like thousands of our peers and co-workers, the enroll ml team attended NACAC.  While it was our first as a company, many of us have been coming in various roles for years.  With a couple years off, the conversations about counselor retention, time management, and the demographic cliff highlight the need for a new approach do managing the funnel.

Data science, and more specifically machine learning, is the answer.

Counselor retention.

One of the loudest, and newest, conversations at NACAC revolved around how many folks are leaving the profession at every level.  Counselor retention is a challenge like we’ve never experienced, and we can no longer assume that new admissions counselors are willing to put in the hours on the phone or on the road as they used to.  At least, not without updating their resume.

Of course, this is happening at precisely the time we need to get the most out of our admissions counselors.  Enrollment expectations are going up, not down, an inverse of many of our budgets.

To work through this, admissions offices need a full endorsement of data science.  If you still need your counselors to call students, it is incumbent on you to make sure that work is going to be more valuable than it ever has.  A data scientist or data science company can help you do that, improving counselor satisfaction and retention without sacrificing outcomes.

Time management.                                    

With turnover comes vacancies, and more inquiries and applicants spread out over fewer counselors.  Added in with a new discussion at NACAC: how do we bring a full travel season back onto the docket while still maintaining the virtual programming students now expect?  The time management challenge is more pressing than it has ever been.

As I’ve written before (LINK) – time is the most valuable resource in the recruitment cycle.  Once a workday is gone, you can never get it back.

Every minute admissions counselors are directed to a project, meeting, or outreach effort needs to be treated like a precious commodity. 

Again, admissions offices need to ramp up their data science operations.  There are students who need your time and attention, and a lot of it, right now.  If you don’t get to them, there’s a real risk that they’ll fade away.  An appropriate use of a machine learning engine can tell you each day which students are your swing students that will make or break your class.

Demographic cliff.

Surprisingly, this was not the loudest topic being discussed at the NACAC conference, but it hovered in the background of nearly every session we attended as this impending doom about to wash over all of us.

The demographic cliff is a unique challenge in that, to a degree, it is a zero-sum game.  There just are not enough students coming up to meet everyone’s enrollment goals.  There’ll be winners and losers.

The winners will be the early adopters of a strong data science program that identifies interest, rising or fading, and flags students for admissions counselors rapidly. 

The revolution will not be televised, it will be data-based.

The conversations at NACAC make it clear – there is a data science revolution coming in admissions. Let’s go.

Teege Mettille
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