The creation of coalition-based college applications such as the Common App and Universal College Application seemed like a good idea. But it turns out that while such applications do help colleges and universities reach a broader base of applicants, they also have unintended side effects that are causing headaches for admissions teams.
Not having a dependable way to predict enrollment particularly affects budgeting because so many other decisions are based on that information, such as hiring and funding for basic student services. By now, most colleges and universities are aware of the fogging effect of the Common App, but what can be done about it? Here are four solutions.
Narrow Your Focus
If you are not exclusively dependent on coalition-based apps, take a step back and compare the application numbers you’re getting from your school’s unique application with the total number of applications received via the coalition-based app.
“When putting together a marketing forecast there are many different weights we can put on leads for colleges when projecting enrollment. One layer of weighting is based on marketing source. Not having an ability to separate leads generated by coalition-based sources from other marketing channels can drastically impact the accuracy of your forecast,” said Jason Meek, director of analytics at Collegis Education.
In addition to separating leads by source, consider how many enrollments you ultimately get from each source. If there’s a higher ratio of enrollments coming from your campus application, put your focus there during your next recruitment cycle. The numbers will be more reliable, and you’ll likely get more for your effort.
Abandon the Coalition-Based App, Invest Elsewhere
If your ratio of enrollments from coalition-based applications is low, consider abandoning coalition-based apps altogether. You’ll not only cut down on the workload needed to evaluate the applications, but you’ll have more money to invest in a targeted marketing initiative. Aim your marketing at the prospects most likely to be aware of and interested in your school.
Reach Out in Person
Have admissions follow up with coalition-app prospects to gauge their true interest in your school. If they are not, stop pursuing them. But if the prospect expresses genuine interest in your school, include the application in your legitimate prospect statistics. This may help in two ways. The first is that you’ll have a more personal connection with the prospect, which could help nurture that lead. The second is that your data will be more solid, which will help your school with other financial planning.
Embrace the Common App
If you are tied to the Common App or other coalition-based apps and aren’t ready to let them go, then go all in. Amplify your voice by conducting a special marketing campaign that is laser focused on coalition-based prospects only.
Restore Your Enrollment
Higher education budget forecasting has become more challenging. College application benchmarks that used to help are no longer reliable, and the ripple effects can impact institutions in a variety of ways. Restore the accuracy and reliability of your enrollment calculations by trying one of the solutions above.