Searching for New Enrollment Staffing Models

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. Tom Green, Associate Executive Director at AACRAO, joined the podcast to discuss the evolution of the one-stop shop admissions model and Harvard University’s plans for Kennedy School to integrate its admissions and financial aid positions.

A person could come in meet with some and be able, in that span of time to really understand how their prior credits could be leveraged, what the schedule of courses in their proposed program might look like so they could balance that with family commitments, work commitments, etc. And also understand what the financial aid options might be. A you're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect e Tou podcast network. I'm Eric Olson with Helix Education and we're here today with Dr Tom Green, the seem doctor and associate executive director at acrow. Tom, welcome to the show. Thank you, Eric, nice to be here. Great to have you here. Really excited to talk to you today about new enrollment staffing models that were starting to see out there in the wild. Before we dig into that, can you get the listeners a little bit of background on both acrow and your rule there. Absolutely so acrow, you're nothing in higher education without an acronym. Stands for the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. We're one of the oldest and largest professional associations and higher education. We've been around for a hundred ten years or more now and we have elevenzero members spread over forty two countries, but most of them are in the US and Canada. At acro I'm responsible for the professional development content for all of our members around strategic enrollment management, so that concerns anything...

...within Roman strategies. Also gets into a lot of work with financial aid, a lot of work with marketing, recruitment, retention, student success, etc. I also and the editor in chief of our Peer Reviewed Research Journal on Sim called Sim quarterly, and I oversee our major international conference each year across m Tom it's a perfect background for this conversation today. EXCITED TO GIN to kick us off today. I guess I'm curious to just hear what your initial thoughts were when you heard that Harvard Universities Kennedy School was planning to integrate their admissions and financial aid positions. Well, my initial reaction was that I'm always interested in innovation and somebody doing something new. Obviously this is being done and institution of a great history and a school of great reputation, so one might assume they've gone into this thoughtfully and the maybe they're onto something here. I think that was also mixed with concern, and that concern is that the roles that they're describing are both highled. They're steeped in lots of information and specialties. So, for example, in order to be a strong recruiter and do the admissions work well, you have to spend a lot of time learning that lot of time in contact with different people who looking at data, following up with students, possibly even evaluating application materials. That requires some expertise in quite a bit of time. The other part of its financial aid, probably requires even greater expertise and more knowledge, more specific knowledge of regulations, of the nuances of financial aid information. And while this appears to be at the graduate it may also extend to the undergraduate level. We don't know. The graduate...

...levels a bit simpler than the undergraduate level and financial aid simply because you eliminate the federal and state grant programs, but even loan programs are extremely technical today and require a good deal of expertise, pritise, and it's really balancing the expertise needed between both of those things and trying to identify individuals that could have the capacity to manage all of that knowledge and the work the balance of that. That gave me pause. So, that said, maybe that's it's a very innovative approach to it, but at a little concern there that they might have too high an expectation for what one person might be able to master and manage. I think I had a pretty similar approach and let's dig into the hiccups in a minute. But let's start on the optimistic side about or Beyonto something here. Could this be seen as in evolution of the onestop shop admissions model that most of the industry has moved to over the last decade, just taking that next step to be a one stop point of contact model? Yeah, in that respect I think that it certainly could be, and and I'll tell you how I have experience with that and where I think it really makes a lot of sense. So almost I guess would be more than twenty years ago now, I'm dating myself a little bit. I was charged with creating a onestop center for returning adults at a private university in the Midwest and doing that work, we realize it was really important that a person could come in, meet with some and be able, in that span of time to really understand how their prior credits could be leveraged, what the schedule of courses in their proposed program might look like so they could balance that with family commitments, work commitments, etc. And also understand what the financial aid options might be,...

...as well as payment options. So at that level we want to provide enough information to be able to assure the student that it was something that they could manage given their time, how long would take to get a degree, what it might costs and what some of the general information on financial aid might be. So in that sense this seems to have many of the elements of that idea. I think the difference here could be that it sounds like in this role at the Kennedy School, what they're trying to do is take it all the way through processing the aid so that the person could be served by a single point of contact and, if possible, that that person would not only oversee their application process and be able to speak with that person in depth about their admissibility to the institution, answer questions about scheduled the all of those nuances and logistics of getting the degree, but also fully process their AIDS start to stop with it. If that's possible to do that, it would be an incredible service, because what we are trying to avoid in one stop scenarios is bouncing the student around the bureaucracy of the of the admits of the institution. Excuse me, and so as we try to make sure that we're seamlessly providing that information to students and that they don't have to go to multiple touchpoints to receive the information or we don't leave it to for them to put this information together coherently, this may be a really interesting way that they can do this. Will all be very curious to see how it works out and what the results are for the Kennedy School. You teased on this earlier, but we're asking for for a couple of different profiles into a new Unicorn position. We want that person that can be an enrollment coach, that can excite and...

...motivate them through the experience. You want the person with the technical understanding to provide very, very well informed, thoughtful and accurate financial aid counseling as well. Let's pretend that you're bought into this concept of integrated staffing. How do you think about finding those people? How do you how does how would that change how an institution tries to hire for these kind of new straddler UNICORNS? You know, that's a great question there and I think it's it's a a little bit to me, a little bit less of the hiring difficulty as it is about the training that you'd have to do in order to get that person really ready to sit in the job. So again, this was some time ago, I had the opportunity to tour and talk with a large student loan provider and they had very strong customer service and I was curious, how do you do it right? How do you get people who can really help the person who's calling in to answer those detailed questions about their loan that, of course, had tangents into financial aid, all of the enrollment level, all those questions that might go with it, and they said it took them about six months to get a person ready to really answer a phone call on their own. And so I think in trying to hire for this position. I've said this many times in my career and certainly and practice it as well. You can train people to learn financial aid. It's a lot of information, but it is something you can learn. I think. Certainly if you're talking about a director of financial aid, you're talking about years to absorb all of those different facets of it. But if you're talking about someone who's really a frontline person working with student counseling and processing financial aid, you can acquire that knowledge. So I think it's really more higher for the skills that are the soft skills or career ready skills, the human interaction skills that will be key...

...to this because the the student coming into this scenario has to have trusts in the person they're meeting with. They have to believe that they're acting their best interests. The person has to be able to convey confidence that they can process their information a timely manner. They have to have great listening skills, because often students don't ask you a question that is really a yes, no, right. They're all kinds of things that might be expressed as concerns that aren't direct concerns, like thank I'm not sure I can pay for this. They might come at it in many different ways than it takes a really good listener and detective in a way to unravel those nuances of the conversation, those hints that the student may be giving you that they have a concern that they themselves may not even know how to express. So I think it's really hiring for those skills and then training into the financial late information over time. So I anticipate that you may hire someone start them with some initial training on this, but they'd probably be shadowing and working on this and acquiring knowledge, probably going online for seminars from the Financial Light Association, NASA, maybe even attending professional development workshops to get their feet underneath them in financial aid for several months before they're really ready to do this work. I love that plan that, if we learn this positive pilot that we all want to consider adopting, that there's the ability to train our existing team to adopt these new skills tom are there other enrollment, staffing, structural changes or experiments that you've seen in the last decade that have shown the most promise? Absolutely, and I think it even goes longer than a decade. Again, I'm dating myself in this conversation,...

...but there's no way around it. Back in the s IBM had a group called the best practice partners and this was a group of innovators who are working in one stop shop models. These were some of the first one stop shops developed in higher in the United States. In the UK it's called Shared Service and a similar concept, and so when I've been over there to meet with some of their folks, they have very similar approaches to how we've approached it here in the United States, and that model is one where you try and take the most common touch points the students have outside of academic needs. So you're not necessarily trying to support any type of academic to support tutoring, advising that type of thing, but you are trying to take care of anything the student needs, especially with the area of money, which is oftentimes the area that is the hardest to address and the one where students really want to talk to a human. A lot of other areas that we can do in a onestop center. Registration, which includes changes, of course, changes to courses. It can include petitions, changes of grades, it conclude transfer credit work. It can include transcripts or getting official copies of records. All of those things can be associated with registration or the registrars work. We have moved so much of that online that one students understand how to get into a portal that they may have access to at most colleges and universities today, they can largely self served and they only need help in those things when something's really unusual or something goes wrong. And so in the onestop model we train for those things, but we don't spend a lot of our time doing those things. In the one stop where we spend a lot of our time is in the area...

...of financial late and the Bursar, because those paying the bill is essentially what the student is trying to do. Financial aid is just a mechanism to pay that bill. It's one of many mechanisms and so, whether the student may be getting grants or assistantships to take the funds right off the top of that, they're almost always left with an amount they need to finance. And so being able to speak with the student coherently and cohesively about the aid options, but also the payment plan options, what happens with a late fee if they're if they didn't pay their bill on time, being able to navigate all of that for the student. is a really strong approach to this one stop work and it's where we find mature one stops, meaning those that have been in place for a few years. They spent about ninety percent of their time with financial issues and only ten percent of their time with everything else the student might need administratively. So I think the idea that the Kennedy School has is on track, meaning that they understand they have to also pay attention to the way the student pays for it. But I think in the in the models that we see in one stops, we tend to divide them between generalists and specialists. So the generalist is the person you contact if you call in or if you're chatting online or if you walk into a onestop center. That person should be able to answer about eighty percent of the questions that are received, and usually they're transactional. How do I do this? How do I do that? Can you help me do this? I need to do that, or simple information. When do you think my loan will be processed? Am I missing anything in my information? Those are the kind of transactional questions that are one stopped generalist can answer. When against into the nuance of that. It...

...seems that for some reason your loan is not going through. It seems that there's information we need that's not, you know, kind of the standard packet of information we need for a loan application or financial aid application. That's when we refer them to the generalist who has that deeper knowledge, and so we would almost always position specialist up at the front near that in an office off to the side of the one stop center so as those questions came in, the generalist that the counter right is, if we're doing this in person, would say hang on just a minute, let me see if I can get someone to help you, and they would tap that specialist in that often say hey, I've got somebody. I heard the question, I can answer that person can pull that student out Aligne have them commenced sit down on ravel the situation and ninety nine percent of the time fix it at that point. But having one person who could do seem to be too much expectation for the generalist because those nuance detailed questions were just so idious and cradic and required such a level of experience and expertise that we couldn't adequately train that up in the generalist, even over a few years of training. Tom Such awesome insights. I love that you and the folks at accrow are looking at all the different examples in use cases that are having around the country that we can learn of everyone's curve at once. Finally, any final next steps? Advice prinstitutions listening to this. They might be looking at experimenting with different enrollment staffing structures. They're trying to provide the best student in Roman experience possible. Where should they start? You know, it's that's a great question, Eric, and I really thought one stop shops were a fad that came and went in the early two...

...thousands. We seem to spend a lot of time and there were some, you know, books written about those. The Site Society for College and University Planning scup put out some guides in the two thousands to one stops. There have been papers and research articles. If you Google one shops or on stop centers higher education, I'm sure you'd come up with lots of resources because this is something that was popular around the early two thousands and it seems in the last five years or so the interest in this has come up again, and so we're seeing a resurgence of interest in this, that people are interested in how this works and what to do. So if you can certainly look out there at different professional organizations, not only acro but also new Kubo has some resources. That's the business officers organization on one stop shops, and I think just start there, start to see what are other people doing, what do you what's working, and then, once you've done some initial research, identify some institutions that have these onestop centers and go make a visit, take a small team and tour two or three of these different onestop centers and identify the things that you think are really appealing and the things that you think would really work at your own institution. While they may have similarities, they're all unique and you have to figure out the right combination and the right physical formats, the right online formats, the right technologies that are really going to work for your institutional context. Thank you so much of your time today. What's the best place for listeners to reach out to you your team at they have any follow up questions? Oh, absolutely, two things. I'll give you my my email address. It's Tom Dot Green, note e on the end of green at acrow a, Ac ur Ao do Org, and you can also...

...get more website acrow dot org. We've got lots of resources for all kinds of issues in administrative services, in registration services and strategic enrollment management. Awesome, Tom thanks so much for joining us today. It's been a pleasure. Thank you. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Slash playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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