Magazine article University Business

In Yield, 'Match' Is Everything: They May Enroll, but Will They Stay and Thrive? (the Admissions Angle)

Magazine article University Business

In Yield, 'Match' Is Everything: They May Enroll, but Will They Stay and Thrive? (the Admissions Angle)

Article excerpt

"There are two tragedies in life," said George Bernard Shaw. "One is to lose your hearts desire. The other is to gain it." Shaw may not have had college students in mind when he penned these lines, but when it comes to the college application/enrollment process, these words are highly appropriate. For, after the euphoria of acceptance, a student's decision to attend (or not attend) your institution may be life-altering for him, depending on whether or not he made the best choice for his individual needs. And if you multiply that single enrollment decision by the hundreds or thousands of other such enrollment decisions coming into your Admissions office yearly, it may have a marked impact on the ability of your institution to evolve and prosper. When it comes to the pursuit of strong yield numbers, you need to make certain that you've not lost sight of the importance of "the match," because that slip in strategic vision could come back to haunt you.


Simply put, the pressure today on institutions to generate the highest possible yield from the accepted pool of candidates, is a short-term goal. That pressure can easily obscure the far more important long-term goal of a high rate of student retention.

Pros and cons of successful enrollment. Keep in mind that every student who remains in your college and graduates in good standing means that you will have to recruit fewer new students each year--a far less-costly proposition than continual recruitment to replace lost students. Then too, you must never underestimate the power of welt-matched enrollees: The satisfied student becomes your best spokesperson for future candidates of like interests and preferences. Those candidates may, in fact, choose to enroll because of the positive input they receive from a happy student (and family). And the reverse is also true: The unhappy, dissatisfied student who withdraws can negatively influence potential applicants. There's no getting around it: Of great concern to parents and students are low retention and graduation rates. This is one of the key dynamics we observe in the student marketplace year in and year out.

Elements of positive student retention. There are several fundamentals of positive student retention. The first is the moral responsibility an institution has to the individual. There can be no justification for attracting and enrolling students whose intellectual academic, social, developmental, and economic needs may be at major variance with a particular college. Other elements relate to the well-being of the institution: All too often, we hear families dismiss out of hand a college that has been recommended to them, because of the tales they have heard from a friend or relative whose child had a negative experience at the institution. How frustrating it must be for the college or university not to have an opportunity to discuss the merits of the school with a prospective candidate who would, in fact, make a good match.


Bring key individuals on board. The best way, then, to ensure you're doing everything you can to foster sound enrollment decisions on the part of your accepted applicants, is to empower administrators, faculty, and staff across your institution to join with the Admissions office in assisting the accepted candidates. These individuals can assist greatly by educating potential enrollees about the important factors that make for a successful undergraduate experience.

Personalize the pitch. Instead of the hard sell--frequently based on factors that may be generalized and have less to do with an applicant's true reasons for attending college ("Our academics/ food/dorms/you-name-it are superior")--help the inexperienced and impressionable young men and women understand significant elements that may lead to a rewarding and satisfying undergraduate experience for them. (See "Empowering the Final Decision Process," next page. …

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