Hello From the Other Side
- May 27, 2020
- Posted by: Brandy Jensen
- Category: Articles
Wow! Life certainly threw us a curveball in March. All over the country, enrollment leaders were forced to change-up their game plans in a major way. By mid-March, we heard about college and university closures daily, and COVID-19 was our “new normal.”
I have never been prouder to be a part of the enrollment management profession as I was this spring. Students (current and prospective), families, and faculty/staff were looking for answers and a pathway forward. Enrollment leaders provided the steady hand that reached out to all, spreading hope and belief in a successful outcome.
Enrollment leaders must be prepared to shift as the future unfolds. Phase one was adapting to the change that COVID 19 thrust upon us and reacting to ensure the safety of students and staff.
Phase two turns our attention and efforts to what comes next:
- How and when will our University or College reopen?
- What will recruitment look like next year and beyond?
- What happens to our budget?
- How will we overcome challenges and thrive while supporting our institution?
Working through these issues takes coordination, planning, and collaboration. While the last thing any college administrator needs is another meeting (especially on Zoom), gathering to talk these crucial issues through as a team is a critical component to turning the chaos of COVID-19 into an opportunity for success.
High-level discussions by senior staff set the direction for the institution as a whole. Once top-level decisions are made, enrollment leaders must gather their teams for a planning retreat.
A shared sense of purpose has always been the key to a successful enrollment office. Retreats unite your team in their shared mission. To get the most out of your retreat, here are four tips to consider:
- Be real. Paint an honest and accurate picture of the challenges your team will face. What will 2020 look like for your institution individually, and higher education overall? Tell people what they can expect when it comes to budgeting, a shifting recruitment paradigm, and the student’s mindset.
- Listen. You hired smart people, and there is no better time than now to listen to their contribution to the conversation.
- Boost creative thinking. COVID-19 forced all of us to step outside of the box and try new things. What have you and your team learned from these new strategies and tactics? How can you improve upon them? And most importantly, what new and old tactics did or did not work as everyone hoped?
- Be there for each other. One thing is sure for everyone. We have all been through a lot these last couple of months. Your team needs you, and you need your team. Together, we are stronger and can accomplish remarkable things.
The enrollmentFUEL team knows there are no easy answers or simple solutions for enrollment professionals that will make the year ahead easy. But there is a tremendous depth of knowledge, world-class problem-solving skills, and exceptional ingenuity. We salute you, we believe in you, and we are always here to listen and share ideas.
The future is waiting—time to start shaping it.
Martin Smith is Regional Vice President of University Partnerships (Southeast) for enrollmentFUEL.