In this Quick Tips! video, Dr. Pamela Cox-Otto, CEO of Interact, has advice on what you should NOT be doing right now. Pam suggests specific actions to help you retain current students and shares insight on how you can better engage with your college foundation to help students with their current hardships. She also offers advice on how to adjust transfer programs, how to deliver programs that get students jobs, and how much to focus on recruitment to boost enrollment.
Five things to stop doing now. Hi, everyone. I’m Pam Cox-Otto from Interact Communications, and I’m going to be talking about five things to stop doing now—and I mean now. Traditionally, you give a date by which people should pay their money or you drop them, and a lot of schools suddenly drop a thousand people, 10,000 people, 15%, I don’t care what it is. This is not the time to be being a hard-ass—yes, I did say that—about those delivery dates, right? Those payment dates. What you want to do is give them the date and then what you want to do is be using your recruiting team to be phoning folks about, do we need to get you on a payment plan? How can we work through your list? Rather than having them drop, and suddenly they have to scramble to register again. For some of them, that’s going to be a thing that will keep them from coming back to you.
At this moment, remember, every single body that you have in hand is worth 20 in bush, so keep them. Don’t throw them away in your drop for lack of payment. Work through those pieces. And if you don’t have a payment plan, get a payment plan. Just saying.
Number two, don’t delay this at all. You’ve got foundations, at least most of you have foundations. This is the moment when you should be looking at your foundation and saying, how much can you be helping our students? Right? If we were to give every single student a 50 dollar bonus when they register and show up to class, what would that cost? Yes, it’s not a cheap thing, but that’s the reason why you have foundations, is to offer these kinds of help when people need help. And if there was ever a time when people need help, it’s now.
Most of you, all of you, are getting care money. You’re going to be thinking about how you distribute that. I know there’s a lot of differences. Some are saying they will give the money as a grant, once you are registered and are attending. Some are saying they’re just going to write checks and mail it out to the most recent students they have. Frankly, I don’t know what the department of education is thinking about all of this stuff, but bottom line is, if you can make it a twofer, make it a darn twofer. If you can give them money that allows them to pay for school and live, and at the same time that’s encouraging them to stay in class, so that you can be funded through whatever way you get FTEs, that’s a twofer. Aim for that.
Number three, don’t fall back on transfer programs. I’m not saying… Most of you have good solid transfer, you also have CTE. It’s not that transfer is not important. It is. But at this moment, their ability to transfer away to another school, frankly, a lot of the motivation to do that has gone away. Why not keep them the whole darn time? This is a time to focus on whether or not, with all of the market forces in your favor, you can get them to stay long enough to graduate and then transfer. So start thinking about that. Don’t delay on that factor because that’s going to be one of the ways that will separate you from the colleges that are able to survive. There’s going to be a major winnowing of community colleges and universities, and you want to be one of the survivors.
Number five, don’t depend on recruiting to increase enrollment. I’ve said this time and time again, but I’ll repeat it here. Recruiting can help you to a certain extent, but you’re not going to get out-of-state students or out-of-city students or out-of-district students, in all likelihood, even taking online courses. Why would they come to you, when probably their local schools have the same thing as well? So what you need to be doing is focusing on retention. You had good numbers or at least decent numbers before all of this hit. Go back and depend on those numbers. If you could make it so that every student you had when spring semester started, who hasn’t graduated or transferred, came to you in fall, you would not have an enrollment problem. We wouldn’t all be running around going, “Oh my God, we’re going to have to budget for 20% down.”
Focus on enrollment. That’s a lot of the work that I’m doing for clients and others right now. But you need to be thinking, what are you communicating with them? What are you offering them? And ways to create community even when they can’t see people around campus.
So, those are my five things that you should stop doing now, and it’s basically stop dropping for nonpayment. Don’t delay. Kick your foundation into gear. Don’t fall back on just plain transfer program. See if you can keep them all the way to graduation. And also don’t cancel your CTE-type classes because there’s lots of ways that you can be doing CTE. And if there’s anything anybody needs right now, it’s jobs. So find ways to look at alternating the delivery. And finally, finally five, make sure that you are not simply depending on recruitment. Begin to focus on retention and turn your attention to that, as if that was the end of the world, because it may be.
That’s it for today. Thanks for your time. I appreciate you taking the time to listen. Call me if I can help.