Collegis Education hosted its third Enrollment Growth Summit in Dallas, TX, at the end of February 2018. With 19 attendees from colleges and universities across the country, the event proved to be one of our most engaging yet. Attendees discussed a range of topics affecting enrollment growth during the workshop-style sessions, zeroing-in on tactics and barriers to success. The critical theme was change – and how in an industry steeped in history, colleges must find a way to carry their values forward while also adapting to keep pace with the world.

Guest speaker Janyce Fadden, director of strategic engagement for the College of Business at the University of North Alabama (UNA), shared how her institution is taking the principles of Lean Higher Ed, “Strategic Doing” and “Agile Process” and transforming the way UNA does business every day. She explained that once you alter your perception of change, you are better equipped to solve complex problems. Fadden called this “managing the direction” – and said it has changed the way she interacts with her colleagues.


In an industry steeped in history, colleges must find a way to carry their values forward while also adapting to keep pace with the world.


“When we talk about problems, we go downhill fast. When we embrace them as opportunities, we become more nimble. The more we practice this philosophy, the less time we need to solve the types of problems that once took much longer,” shared Fadden.

This positive approach helps to build trust and empower the change-driven culture. Fadden insists that most employees are pragmatists, so it is important to support the pioneers in your organization who are thinking differently.

Google’s Insights Into Youth’s Online Habits
Speaking of pioneers, Google’s Head of Industry – Education, Ali Parkes, presented on online behaviors of prospective students. Highlighting that youth online habits are ever changing, he emphasized that today’s high school students are curious, demanding and impatient. Research shows that they have about three schools in consideration – and most will not venture beyond their initial school and program list. So, to impact their decisions, we must engage new digital tools and tactics.

One of the most notable statistics shared by Parkes is that 47 percent of GenZers and Millenials aren’t watching any cable TV. That is nearly half of most colleges’ prospective student population missing out on traditional TV advertising. How do we fill the gap? Parkes highlighted the penetrative power of YouTube and other streaming platforms to connect with these “unreachables.” [See our tips on how to navigate YouTube marketing here.}

University of Mary Embraces Continuous Improvement
As the event came to a close, University of Mary Vice President for Enrollment Management, Michael McMahon, one of our guest speakers, spoke candidly about how embracing continuous improvement at his institution has strengthened their commitment to enrollment growth.

“You need to establish distinctiveness, and proclaim it boldly,” he encouraged. The team at University of Mary invested in strategies that emboldened their mission, but they also sought partners who would help them think through the changing landscape of higher education. His advice to attendees was to not just look for pre-packaged services such as digital marketing, but rather to invest in holistic solutions that prepare your institution for long-term growth.

So, what was the biggest takeaway from the 2018 Collegis Spring Summit? McMahon said it best: “There is no mission without a margin.” Colleges and universities need to chart a course for a brighter future by strengthening their mission, empowering their teams to be changemakers and embracing the new digital world.