This post will give some serious “you’re doing it wrong” vibes. But it’s important to discuss the logical fallacy that leads to this absolutely incorrect statement being repeated on every campus, including yours:
“If we can just get them on campus, we’ll enroll them.”
Someone on your campus says this and believes it. It may even be you, which could make this a bit awkward.
Here’s the thing: the mindset behind this post came from conducting single-variable yield analysis, and that methodology is misleading. Surely, someone on your campus did some quick yes/no pivot table work and found that students who visited campus yielded at … 40-60%, far more than those who didn’t.
It’s not that it’s not true; it’s just answering the wrong question. It treats the campus visit as a signal of interest from the student. That’s not what it is. In all actuality, the campus visit is an outcome of the student’s interest.
The mindset of “if you can just get them on campus…” leads people to believe that your campus is uniquely impressive to students and that you win far more often when they see your gorgeous <insert academic area> building that everyone is so proud of.
As a result, colleges move in the wrong direction by focusing on the visit invitations, number of visit days, etc., instead of understanding why students visit.
Of course, the logic falls apart when you look at the yield rates for students who come as part of a group visit, where they didn’t take the individual initiative to come to your campus. Those drop-yield rates make it clear that your new student center / athletic building / fitness facility is not the awe-inspiring yield tool your campus has convinced itself that it is.
To understand the power of the campus visit (or any other single variable), you need to measure each variable in relation to the others. How important is a campus visit for someone taking dual enrollment courses at your institution? What about student athletes? Is there a gender split? Academic strength, family income, distance from campus, etc.
Colleges make a mistake by acting on the misleading cues that come from single-variable yield analysis. While studying your institutional data is important, understanding the limitations of your data analysis is even more important.