Physicians have the Hippocratic Oath to "First, do no harm", attorneys have a Creed of Professionalism to honor the law and the rights of individuals, and many of us live by the Golden Rule to "treat others as we expect to be treated". Similarly, Enrollment Builders would like to propose the Enrollment Manager's Pledge, to "do what is best for students".
Unfortunately, one sees the phenomenon of colleges and universities being employee centric all of the time. Courses are offered when it is convenient and preferred for faculty. Financial aid offices are only open during office hours. Students are asked to stand in line, to visit three different offices for a signature, or to return to the office when Mrs. Jones is back from lunch.
For most institutions, these practices are remnants of by gone days when there were more students who wanted an education than were there spots available, days when students had fewer educational choices, and when the majority of our students were 18-22 year olds that didn't also have to deal with families, jobs, and other modern distractions. Regrettably, for many schools these old habits of being employee centric and failing to consider what is best for students is causing a decrease in student satisfaction, lower enrollment for their institution, and is serving as a barrier to their students' success.
Of course, the for-profit institutions figured these things out long ago. While many 'traditional' institutions start new academic programs based on faculty interest, the private sector institutions figured out that an investment in market research to identify the programs that were in demand for the evolving workforce was a good idea.
While the local state-supported institutions offered classes between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm Monday through Thursday and locked up the administration building before non-traditional students could get there, other student centric schools held classes online, on weekends and weeknights to meet the needs of adult learners. Decades ago signed documents were the only way to verify that advisors or administrators had authorized course registrations or modifications to tuition payment plans; unfortunately, many schools have failed to harness the powers of technology to eliminate the need for these hard copy forms and countless other distractions from learning.
But student centric, market driven institutions have built their institutions, their workflow, and their employee expectations on what students, employers, and society wants. Market driven institutions understand that students have choices, busy lives, and an expectation for quality service.
Do What is Best For Students
To combat this trap of employee or institution centric decision making it is recommended to pause and take time to consider the impact that everyday decisions have on students. Instead of taking the path of least resistance, or executing the decision that is "the way we have always done it", take just a few seconds to consider how your decision or course of action will impact the lives of students.
To be clear, we are not advocating for easy A's, class sessions delivered on Sunday mornings or an institution without policies. Nor are we suggesting that institutions should ignore the needs of their hard working employees. However, we are suggesting that whenever an administrator, enrollment manager, or any institutional decision maker is confronted with a choice between several options one should ask oneself "Which option is best for students?"
For example, if a class has to be cancelled due to low enrollment an institution has options as to what to do with those 5 students that had registered for the class. Do they just cancel the class and notify students that it will be offered again next year? Do they suggest that they take the class somewhere else? Or does an enrollment manager arrange for the 3 students that are in their last year to take the course as an independent guided student with a faculty member?
When implementing modifying a policy, changing a workflow or implementing a new technological solution and a subsequent change in workflow be sure to map out the student experience, not just that of the employees. Take the time to go through the same procedure a student would have to go through, and make sure that you are not adding an unnecessary steps, and that you are improving student service, not making it worse in exchange for employee convenience.
It is really not that hard to improve the student experience and increase the level of student satisfaction. Just remember the Enrollment Manager's Pledge: Do what is best for students.
Give us a call at 513-518-7824 or request information if you would like to learn more about doing what is best for students at your institution. We can perform a business process review to see where you might be able to make small changes that make a big difference in student satisfaction and student success at you school.