Shared Admission Events and The Six Colleges Initiative

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Whitney Soule, Sr. Vice President, and Dean of Admissions and Student Aid at Bowdoin College joined the podcast to discuss the efficiency and effectiveness of joint admission events with like institutions, especially in a new era with fewer SAT and ACT takers.

Families and students can get a lot ofinformation in one hour from six schools rather than having to do sixdifferent events as one US you're. Listening to enrolment growth,university from helics education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to grow in Roman at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh and Roman growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources. You've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show, welcome back to ANROMAC GrowthUniversity, a proud member of the connect Evu podcast network, I'm EricWolson with helicks education and we're here today with Whitney soul seniorvice president and dean of admissions and student aid at Bolden College.Whitney welcome to the show. Thank you really excited a talkithy today aboutthe efficiency and effectiveness of joint admission events before we dikinto that, can you give the listeners a little bit better understanding of bothBoden College and your rule there? Absolutely so. Thank you for having meand Botin college is a small residentialLiberal Arts College located on the southern coast of Maine soere about twohours, north of Boston and, as I said, fully residential, fully undergraduate,typically around eighteen hundred students on our campus, of course.Right now in the midst of Covid, where, like many schools, don't have all ofour students. Here, we have about a third of our student body on campusright now and we'll probably be up to about seventy percent of the studentbody on campus next carm. So it's unusual right now, but in regular terms,we're a small residential college and a Liberal Arts College, and that is oneof the things that ties us together with the other five colleges in thisproject. For my role, I oversee the admission, which means the arecruitment effort forboden in particular, and also oure financial aid,and we have a very robust financial, a program we were able to review. Ourapplicants need blind, meaning that we...

...can admit students without having toconsider their ability to pay for Boden, and we can back that up with a reallyrobust financial aid program that guarantees that will be meeting thefull need of the students that we unrole and the will be doing thatwithout packaging loans for students, so that robust Financiallyi is anotherthing that ties the six colleges together. That are part of the topicfor today, and I have an amazing team of people who have been able to thinkreally creatively during this Covi time, where every admission office is had tothink about recasting its work, ind, recruiting students when we can't meetthem in person- and we can't greet them here on our campuses, how we presentour schools to the outside world, both or the students and their parents andthen also to their high school guidiance counselors, who are helpingthem navigate the college search process whenl, you mentione thecreativity required to navigate times like these, and this really really is aunique and creative collaboration to kind of kick us off today. Can you giveus just a high level overview of this six colleges initiative that Buildins,a part of I'd be happy to so. The six colleges that are working together areall small. Oberlard's colleges, as I had described, Boden were allresidential were all undergraduate and we all have very strong financial aidprograms. So we have these core values that are in common and the six schoolsworking together are amors college, Boten, College, Carlton, College,Pomona, College, sworthmore, college and Williams College, and so we'respread around the country main is Barboden is, as I already said, Amerstis in Massachusetts, as is Williams they're, both in western Massachusetts.Carlton is in Minnesota, Comona is in California and Sforth Moris inPennsylvania. So what we don't have in common is our exact geography, thoughAmmar stingerinumster, both in...

Assachusetts so from a strategicstandpoint from inefficiency, standpoint, which kinds of admissionevents make sense to do together with other other similar colleges and whichdon't from your perspective, it's a great question and actually prepandemic.Many colleges used to work together in something that we called group travel,meaning we would either pare with another institution or travel in agroup that might be three or four institutions together, sometimes inreally big groups as many as ten or more, and sometimes that would becolleges that are similar as the six are that I just described or verypurposefully. Putting some large research universities, together withsmall liberal arts colleges and working together to promote both kinds ofhigher education in front of families and the group travel would typicallywork that are representative from each of the institutions would be promotingan event in a city or in a town where they would be using everybody'sprospect, lists and contacts to send out invitations to that area. To invitepeople to an event where each school would take a turn on the stage anddescribe their institution, usually with a slide show and some key pointsabout the school that would differentiate them from the others whowere there sharing a stage and then do a broad QNA at the end for the students,the parents and the counselors, whatever the audience might have beento help them better understand school. So the idea o being that there's a lotof ground to cover and the more that we can help each other fill a room andthen have certainly the responsibility to do a good job of differentiatingourselves benefits all of us, and so that was something that we were doing.Many schools were doing that in advance of the pandemic, and so what we endedup doing was casting that concept into this virtual world, and one of thethings we were really worried about as...

...deans is that we have sort of lost theway of traditionally bringing students into our mailing list where we cancommunicate with them about things that are going on in our campus or how toapply to our schools or important things for them to know about theapplication process. Typically, we would have all had thousands ofstudents coming through our campuses by now taking tours sitting in oninformation sessions, perhaps having interviews with an idmission staffperson, if that's part, of the admission process at a school and ofcourse we have no visitors. Now there are a lot of students who used to getonto our mailing lists because they would sit for standardized testing,whether that was the sat or the act and good opten to having their names becomeavailable to colleges. And so we could get names of students who had takenstandardized testing and put them on to our mailing list and reach out to themand without so many thests being available this year. There are a lot ofstudents who didn't make it onto college outreach. That way, so wethought we might do is in this case bring the six schoolstogether, who have so much in common, and we know that we already haveoverlapped prospect and applicantless. We know historically, that a lot ofstudents that might be looking at Boden might also be looking at AmerstonWilliams, forthmore, pomonor Carlton, and so it would be efficient for thestudent to do one spot to sign up on one mailing list, knowing when they dothat that they' be joining the mailing list for all six schools and that thevirtual programming that we're doing would still require us to differentiateourselves, but also provide really efficient information around whatschools like hours provide and for students who are as overwhelmed by zoomas the rest of us, giving them a shot at learning about six schools in onespace is good for them, and it's really great for us, because we can reach morepeople this way than we would doing it. One off you mentioned the historicalnormalsy of these kinds of...

...collaborations, but from the outside.This still feels like a political feat. There must have been some internalconcerns or conversations about competitive fears. For instance, inthis shared event, you theoretically run the risk of a student originallycoming with Bilden at the top of their list to fall in love with anotherinstitution. How did you navigate these concerns internally? That is both arisk and an inspiration I have to say so. That is a risk that we are familiarwith from our traveling together prepandemic, as I said that the risk ofsharing a stage with schools that are are like your own students might showup to hear about Boden and become more interested in Carltton, let's say, butthe reverse works for Boden. So there may be students who showd up to hearabout Pomona and find themselves falling alove with Bodan instead. So weare all benefiting and also at risk at the same time, by sharing the stage andin this case the virtual stage, but we also feel a really strongresponsibility. There is this competitive aspect of it, and it doesrequire us to be very true to our own messages andinstitutional personalities and values, because that's one of the best ways forstudents to begin to see us as different places that that details thatwere able to provide around our own schools relative to what we have incommon helps them understand us as different places and start to see theirown fit with. Maybe one or two of the six schools, or maybe all six of them,but can seeus as different entities, even though we're all working together.But I also think that inspiration of having to be very clear in yourdifferentiation is also inspiring for us as jeans and and how much we careabout moving students into the pipeline for higher education, that the morestudents who can get information about this kind of institution. To understandthat schools like ours can be...

...affordable and not to turn away beforethey get started to encourage students who might be thei first in theirfamilies to think about, going to college to stay connected because wecan afford them and to keep learning with what we're able to provide. Thisis different this year, because in the in the former way of traveling together,we might have done one event a year and this year the six colleges have done. Ithink three or four different programmings with the deans workingtogether, another set with our directors of admission working together,another set of programming with our international recruiters and then somevery specific programming for our first generation to college and students ofcolor who and low income students who are looking at our schools. So the sixof us have been able to work together on so many different topics in the spanof the middle or late part of August. Until now that we never could havecovered together in traditional travel and those things are now recorded, sofamilies can go to the six colleges, dot or website and see the recordingsof the presentations that we have done on topics that, even if it turns outthey're, not interested in any of our schools, may actually still be aservice in explaining how some aspects of Hirit and college admission works.What kind of feedback have you received this summer and fall from students andfamilies who've attended these shared events? I think the feedback wellthere's a couple ways of thinking about the feedback. One is how many peopleactually log in so this is primarily in the evening, and we know people areexhausted by zoom that they're encountering for their work or forschool, and we have probably over the course of time since the end of August.Until now had about forty five hundred students and parents logged in for ourprogramming, that includes our international students. We've probablyhad fifteen hundred or more high school...

...counselors logged in for what we'redoing, and so I think the volume alone says something about the populationbeing both appreciative of the information and finding it usefulenough to come back and listen to more things. That's how many people arepresent with us when we're doing it live, and then the videos themselvesare getting a lot of replays. So I take that kind of the volume and theattendance I take is feedback that it's positive and people are looking forthis kind of content and using it. The comments themselves that we get both inthe during the programming when students and r parents or councilos aresending US messages in the chat and asking questions. Is there appreciativeof what we have to say? They don't sometimes have very specific questionsthat were able to answer, and we know that they're grateful for that, andit's a way of feeling informed and reassured that this process is stillworking and not entirely out of control. I think there is so much around us thatis hard to grasp and the idea of searching for a college virtually isreally overwhelming for students and families and those who are supportingthem like their high school counselors, are also really trying to figure outhow to encourage and navigate and guide students without the traditionalmeasures, and so we feel really good about the engagement that we've haddoing this. Have these one stop admissions experiences made you curiousabout the potential of shared events or even shared operations for anythingelse between the collegest. I think that the shared events will continue tobe part of our practice and we had mapped out the schedule O forwhat we wanted to accomplish with the six colleges. This fall as we werepreparing ourselves and students to move into the application process,and we made that plan when nobody knew how long people were going to belimited in what they could do by Covid, and I think we're looking at a seasonahead of us where the limitations are...

...still real and we'll be there for sometime. So I can imagine us planning out more programming for the spring,especially because at that point we'll have students, who've been admitted toour schools, who have not yet visited and might not be able to visit, evenafter being admitted to check it out before having to make a decision. So Ican imagine us doing programming and to your point, the admitted studentprograming will very likely need to be more likely, be our own schools, doingprogramming for O r admitted students, rather than a shared topic that wecould do together. But in the spring we can work together and I imagine we willwork together for how to prepare the students who are in the spring of theirjunior year of high school, to think about beginning the collar search atthat point in likely a virtual space, or at least a limited way, if notentirely virtual. So I can imagine that to ga point about competitiveness, ones,that we've admitted our students and we're trying to bring in our classeswell probably be individually very focused, athe students who we'veadmitted and in some cases those students have been probably admitted tomore than one of our schools. We wouldn't know that, but I can imaginethat, given that we know that there's attention to a number of our schoolsfrom students- and so imagine we'll be on our own at that point and trying toland our classas well also, at the same time, working collaboratively toencourage juniors and to get information out there and then I'm likeso many things. I think when the world starts to open up again more safely, wewill all be looking a and by way I mean Higherad and college edmissions folks,thinking about what valuable things should we learnwith virsual programming that we would cheep and what will we put back in thatwould be boots on the ground face to face kind of recruitment, and I imaginethat this kind of shared programming and collaboration will stay in some way.We are, as I said, we're seeing that that families and students find itvaluable and they can get a lot of...

...information in one hour from sixschools rather than having to do six different events as one US woul, youreally really great stuff. Any final next steps, advice for institutions.Listening to this considering or thinking about shared events, do theyneed to really understand their niche of like institutions to make thishappen. What's the first political step they need to consider, I think thereally the first step is to understand what it is you want toaccomplish by being together. So in our case we are like. Institutions weresimilarly competitive and, as I said in the beginning, there are a lot ofreally important things that our schools have in common that are sharedamong us, as well as shared interest among those who are looking at schoolslike our. So we knew we were building a group that would be tightly competitivein what we offer, but also that is a valuable landing space for students. Icould imagine a group getting together that would very purposefully I hadgiven us example in the beginning, when we were talking about the travel aspectof it that might choose to have a combination of really largeuniversities and small colleges together, and that could be a reallyvaluable purpose as well to on one stock. You know one piece ofprogramming be able to educate students and families about really differentapproaches to Higher Ed. So I think when schools are thinking about whothey might want to collaborate with you'd want to have a sharedunderstanding of why you think you should be together what your messagingwould be by working together and then it takes. It takes a lot of trust in alot of collaborative work to think about. How can we share the space andstill feel like we are doing the very best work for our own institutions and, and it does work, I work with greatpeople. The five other deans are absolutely terrific people to work withand we meet every week and trying to find time when sixteens have a have a...

...free hour, itis challenging, and yet we've madethat our priority since the summer, and that has had a nice in addition to thework we're doing in those calls to prepare for our programming. It hasbeen a really nice way for us to stay connected to one another: InvestPractices and sort of talking through hat we're experiencing during thisreally complicated time, so there's been a nice benefit in a professionalway as well wouldt yeed such a beautiful, inspiring story. Thank you.So much of your time today, what's the best place for listeners to connectwith you if they have any follow up questions sure well, thank you. I'mglad you find it inspiring it. The pandemic has been crushing in so manyways, and yet there is something inspiring around the degree of problemsolving. We have to do on a daily basis and working together with other peopleto do that, and in this case other colleges feels great and has a lot todo with with the people involved in putting it together really great teamson every campus. If students want to get in to learn more about the sixcolleges work, they can go to six colleges, dot, Org and again. The sixcollegeis included in this particular effort are Amerst, Boden, Carlton,Pomona, sworthmore and Williams, and if you want to find out more about votingcollege, you can go to Boden DT Edu, it's do W. do I n Dot Edu admissionsand you can find our staff there, including me and my email. That's theeasiest way to get in touch with me or with our admission office directly andeach of the other schools that are part of the six colleges also have contactinformation on their admission sites as well. If you want to follow up there,awesome thanks so much for joining us today with me. You're welcome. Thankyou so much for having me Eric attracting today's new post.Traditional learners means adopting new enrolmant strategies: Keelicseducations data driven enterprise, wide...

...approach to enrollment growth isuniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this neweducation, landscape and Helex has just published the second edition of theirenrolment growth playbook, with fifty percent brand new content on howinstitutions can solve today's most pressing endromant growth challengesdownload it today for free at Helocks, Educationcom playbook you've been listening to enromantgrowth university from helicks education to ensure that you never missan episode subscribe to the show in Itunes were your favorite podcastplayer. Thank you so much for listening until next time.

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