The Importance of an Integrated Enrollment Management Organization

Scaling Online Enrollments
Institution Snapshot: New England Based Regionally Accredited Institution
Institution Size:
Approximately 13,000 Students
Services Utilized: Enrollment Management Solutions

Background & Opportunity

A highly reputable, New England based regionally accredited University had recently attempted to scale enrollments for its modest online education division. Despite significantly expanding marketing initiatives, at a significant cost to the institution, the online division enrolled only a small number of new students. The cost-per-enrollment realized came in well in excess of sustainable targets. At this point, most marketing initiatives were placed on hold and no additional enrollment growth was realized.

The University approached Cygnus, requesting a strategy aimed at realigning efforts and drive online enrollment growth at sustainable conversion and cost metrics. At the time, the university offered approximately 10 online programs.

The Challenge

At the time, the University relied on its existing operational structure and resources to manage all aspects of marketing, student recruitment and admissions processing. The challenge with this approach is that these functions were designed to serve the needs of high school students looking to enroll in college full-time, as opposed to returning adult students looking for part-time online education opportunities.

The online education vertical is a crowded, highly competitive landscape. Institutions looking to growth online enrollments need to adapt their operations to serve the needs of a returning adult student audience that is actively being targeted and recruited by highly efficient operators that are capable of enrolling and matriculating students in a matter of days.

When Cygnus was retained, the University was taking in excess of two months to process an online applicant through registration. Cygnus indicated that competitive institutions were capable of processing inquiring prospects into enrollments in as little as 5 days, and recommended the university aimed at streamlining inquiry-to-enrollment processes so that online students could be enrolled, on average, within 2 weeks of having requested information.

The Solution

Cygnus’ strategy was to integrate and coordinate cross-functional recruitment and admissions efforts, with the goal of creating a fully integrated enrollment management organization capable of effectively managing the lifecycle of prospective students from inquiry through matriculation. Further, Cygnus outline a plan to streamline processes by fostering cross-functional collaboration, communications and accountability. This strategy was executed and achieved through process automation and operations management training.

Additionally, Cygnus:

  • Conducted an operational assessment aimed at identifying opportunities to improve existing or recommend new processes;
  • Completed a competitive analysis designed to identify best practices in marketing, recruitment and admissions in online education;
  • Outlined an enrollment management strategy and a tactical execution plan complete with all steps necessary to build and solidify an integrated enrollment management organization.

Results

Since the completion of Cygnus’ Enrollment Management engagement, the University has realized online enrollment growth in excess of 1300% and now offers more than 70 online programs. Recently, the University re-engaged Cygnus to help it expand their Performance Social Media initiatives.

Takeaways

The online education vertical is a crowded, highly competitive landscape with highly efficient operators that are capable of enrolling and matriculating students in a matter of days. Institutions looking to grow online enrollments need to adapt and optimize their operations to serve the needs of a returning adult student audience.

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