Higher Education Newsletter
Welcome to the ACT Higher Education Newsletter
This resource is for higher education professionals and includes news, research, events, and professional development opportunities.
In This Issue:
- Upcoming Events: ACT Enrollment Management Summit
- Get the Right Data for Student Recruitment
- Data-Driven Recruiting: A Strategic Enrollment Advantage
- ‘It’s Smarter Recruiting’ - Oklahoma College Cuts Through the Noise
- University Reverses Declining Enrollment by Expanding Reach
- How Colleges and Employers Can Help Working Learners
- Webinar: Four Ways to Close the STEM Talent Gap
- eBook: Help Your Incoming Students Have Their Best On-Campus Experience
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ACT Enrollment Management Summit
Higher education professionals will experience a great networking and professional development opportunity in the Mile High City during the ACT Enrollment Management Summit, set for July 18-20 in Denver.
ACT has held annual events for college and university enrollment and retention professionals for more than 30 years. This year, ACT is transforming the event to recognize the evolving role of enrollment management professionals.
Based on feedback from past attendees, ACT is adding several new professional development and networking opportunities to the event. The pre-conference certification workshop has already reached capacity, so be sure to register for the summit soon to take advantage of everything the event has to offer.
While you’re there, have a little fun! Attendees will have the option of joining a tour of Denver’s famous microbreweries on a European bicycle cart.
We hope to see you in Denver this July!
Webinar: Discover New Ways to Enhance Your Enrollment Management Programs
Are you looking to gain efficiencies in your recruitment and enrollment management programs? Join us for a live, 50-minute webinar on using ACT data and tools to help you meet your goals.
The webinar will be hosted by Kenton Pauls and Don Pitchford of ACT. You have two choices of webinar dates:
- Wednesday, May 16, at 11:00 a.m. Central
- Tuesday, May 22, at 1:00 p.m. Central
Don and Kenton will discuss:
- Building a Successful Enrollment Management Plan
- Leveraging ACT Data to Meet Your Enrollment Goals
- Establishing a Holistic Approach to Student Success with ACT Products and Services
“Definitely taught me a lot about enrollment management and gave me new ideas to take back to our office.” —2018 ACT Enrollment Management Workshop attendee
We look forward to sharing our insights with you!
Product Spotlight: ACT Enroll
Knowing which students to recruit can be a challenge. Getting quality data can help remove the guesswork.
Colleges and universities connect with students through the ACT suite of enrollment management services, such as the ACT Educational Opportunity Service (EOS) and ACT Enrollment Information Service (EIS). These services increase your recruitment reach and give you a better understanding of students’ abilities, interests, needs, and enrollment preferences. Meanwhile, students get increased access to educational and financial opportunities while widening the scope of their college search process.
ACT Enroll, the platform that integrates enrollment management services from ACT, now includes a more user-friendly, comprehensive search process and new features such as:
- Interactive maps
- Ability to place future orders
- On-demand purchasing
- Enhanced export capabilities of names already purchased
- Expanded segments based on US Census data
- On-demand record availability
- Multiple data sources
- Institutional accounts
- Consultant roles
Now is a great time to sign in to ACT Enroll for your student searches. ACT EOS includes the names of millions of sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have taken PreACT and the ACT test. In fact, 60 percent of the US graduating class of 2017—more than 2 million students and more than any other college entrance exam—took the ACT. In addition, through ACT Enroll and EOS, you gain free access to underserved students who took the ACT in their senior year.
Data-Driven Recruiting: A Strategic Enrollment Advantage
You're an admissions and recruitment professional. Your engineering department wants to achieve a better gender balance among its male-dominated student body. Your school has a terrific engineering department, campus, instructors, and financial aid offerings—but many prospective students are going to larger, more established colleges. What do you do?
The first step: arm yourself with the right data.
The ACT Enrollment Information Service (EIS) is a market research tool that helps admissions officers analyze existing and emerging markets—and your competitor schools—to give you the best data and help you better target your recruiting, from geographic regions to individual high schools outside of your feeder schools.
With EIS, you can measure your school’s visibility and identify students likely to enroll and succeed in your institution, maximizing your recruiting return on investment. With its unique competitor analysis tool, you can identify and understand the competition’s terrain and stake your own claim. You can seek out students based on:
- Geography (states, counties, distance, districts, etc.)
- Student characteristics (gender, major, race/ethnicity, financial aid, GPA high school rank, family income, college work plans, etc.)
- Major interest
- ACT scores
Using these data, EIS helps your enrollment staff collect custom analyses and reporting to help you more efficiently seek the students you want, even outside of your “comfort zone,” and set realistic enrollment goals campus-wide.
Northern Oklahoma College (NOC) can boast about its status as the state’s most affordable school, with recognized programs in astronomy, agriculture, and digital media. Yet many of the state’s highest-achieving students chose to enroll at larger state colleges.
NOC created a full-ride scholarship to attract more high-performing students—the President’s Leadership Council Scholarship, including awards covering tuition, fees, room, and board. Yet the scholarship failed to attract interest. “It was really sad to see this great scholarship going unused,” said Rick Edgington, EdD, Vice President of Enrollment Management.
To turn things around, NOC turned to ACT to create a better recruitment strategy with ACT Educational Opportunity Service (EOS) at its core. The college used EOS data to find students in nearby counties who were a good match with the scholarship by such criteria as college major, interests, and services.
The result: a low-cost marketing and recruiting tactic that led to a 150% increase in applicants for the scholarship. “Students are getting a flood of recruitment materials. We need to cut through the noise,” Edgington said. “EOS allows us to personalize the recruiting experience and do more than just send a glossy brochure. It’s smarter recruiting.”
"We weren’t targeting anyone. We were just throwing a whole bunch of stuff out there and seeing what stuck."
That's how Katie Young, Director of Admissions at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) described the school’s past recruitment strategy. The big-city public research university was relying too much on students living within the city, resulting in declining enrollment that lasted more than a decade.
The school started looking beyond Little Rock for new growth areas, introducing a nonresident tuition fee waiver for students in nearby states like Texas and Tennessee. The challenge: targeting potential students in those areas and changing a mass-mailing recruitment program into a targeted recruiting program.
UALR used the ACT Educational Opportunity Service (EOS) to target Memphis and Dallas students with a message about the waiver, collecting data about these student engagements toward one-on-one contact with recruiters. Students were moved through the recruitment funnel more efficiently.
The result has been more than stopping declining enrollment—the school has doubled recruitment numbers from year to year since implementing EOS. “In the past, we didn’t have the technology to parse through this data, and we went with a one-size-fits-all approach,” Young said. “Now we sort by territory and recruiter visits. We have individual recruiters running their own campaigns on top of the global campaigns we’re sending out.”
How Colleges and Employers Can Help Working Learners
Adult professionals strive for work-life balance because it boosts productivity and career satisfaction. Working college students (“working learners”) need a similar balance between their workplace and the classroom. Their employers and their learning institutions can help them achieve that balance.
This is a key finding of a recent study by ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning, which finds that college students who work more than 15 hours a week tend to fall behind in academic progress while adding to their debt. Colleges can combat this by:
- Adopting a holistic approach to advising that takes both coursework and paid work into account and gives students the best information about the benefits and costs of working through school.
- Creating strong links between campus career centers and financial aid offices, placing students into higher-paying jobs with long-term career benefits.
Businesses that employ working students can help them find this balance, as well. Employers can schedule students’ time on the job around midterms, finals, and projects while giving them fair wages. Meanwhile, government can expand funding and access to work-study programs. Christina Gordon, Senior Director of the ACT Center for Equity in Learning, spells out recommendations for business and government leaders in helping working learners in an op-ed for the Committee for Economic Development.
“Beyond corporate social responsibility, it’s in every company’s best interests to be aware of and support the working learners on the job right now,” Gordon writes. “They are eager to embrace the American dream and make it their own.”
Webinar: Four Ways to Close the STEM Talent Gap
The demand for talent in STEM careers is growing. Student interest is not. What can educators do about it?
Student interest and achievement in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) have seen little change over the past four years. But the number of STEM careers in the United States has exploded, growing more than 10 percent from 2009 to 2015. The additional 8.9 percent growth expected between 2014 and 2024 will only further the demand for new workers in the STEM fields.
Policymakers emphasize the importance of educating students for STEM-related jobs. But what can educators, administrators, parents, and students do to close the gap between STEM demand and STEM supply? A new report from ACT highlights eight key findings on STEM preparedness and four policies decision makers can implement to spur change.
This free webinar presents the findings of “STEM Education in the US: Where We Are and What We Can Do,” an annual report from ACT on the condition of STEM interest and achievement in the United States. We highlight this year’s data, present our recommendations, and focus on a number of initiatives across the country that are addressing challenges to improving STEM education and success for greater numbers of US students. Also, a representative from the Idaho STEM Action Center describes how the state opened its STEM talent pipeline by engaging industry partners to increase student access and achievement, professional development among teachers, and STEM pathways in college and beyond.
Help Your Incoming Students Have Their Best On-Campus Experience
Admissions and enrollment professionals work hard to make the campus experience attractive and thorough for prospective students. The goal is always to give incoming students a close look at campus life while giving as much information as possible about enrollment, students’ intended majors, financial aid, and post-graduate prospects.
But the student must be fully prepared and engaged to receive everything you have to offer. That’s why ACT created The Ultimate Guide to Conquering Campus Visits, a free eBook that describes how and why campus visits have a major impact on students’ selection process.
The eBook helps students understand:
- When to visit campus
- How to set up a visit
- How to make priorities during a visit
- Making the most of time on campus
- Post-visit activities and priorities
You can share this eBook with incoming students at college fairs or other events to help students have the best experience possible on your campus. The ebook also offers a list of questions that students should ask of tour guides, current students, and departmental advisors related to academics, campus life, and financial aid a place to record their thoughts after the visit.