You can tell a lot about a book’s author by its dedication page.
Sometimes authoring a book is collective effort of experts, such as in Helix Education’s The Enrollment Growth Playbook: How to Launch, Market & Grow Successful Online & On-Campus Programs. The dedication in this orange, bound guide reads:
To those who believe deeply in the power of higher education, all while tenaciously pushing for its betterment.
Written by people passionate about higher ed for those just as passionate. That heart, in my opinion, sets the right stage for a book like this. While metrics matter, we can never forget why we do what we do.
Now that I have the warm and fuzzies out of the way, let’s talk about the book itself. I was excited to get my hands on a copy of this book and, now that I’ve read it, I want to share my thoughts with my higher ed peers.
The Enrollment Growth Playbook is aptly named; it’s a how-to guide for admissions directors, marketing directors, academic advisors, and other related folks responsible for attracting and retaining students. And it doesn’t waste any time. It gets right into the questions we SHOULD be asking ourselves.
I know that many times we in higher ed make decisions on assumptions and what-ifs. That’s not effective, and Chapter 2 explains why a thorough competitive analysis matters. Perhaps your institution is targeting the wrong set of aspirants. Are you looking at the data, or relying on personal preferences or past trends?
One enrollment issue might not lie exactly in the marketing and communications world, but rather in academic programming. The Enrollment Growth Playbook also touches upon market demand, a crucial, crucial area in today’s changing workforce climate. Along with this, geographic reach. Where do your potential students live? If you offer online programs, as this guide asks, is your reputation strong enough to reach a national audience?
Process. What you do with incoming leads—and WHEN you do what you do—is critical. Many years ago, I worked in admissions for a career college, and we always called back a lead while they were hot—this was drilled into us, and we learned how a specific lead source affected the interest level. This was pre-Internet (at least at our campus) when the phone was a lot more prevalent, but I feel that, today, an email or form-based inquiry should not be treated as passive. Are you handling your leads properly? Quickly enough? The Enrollment Growth Playbook spends a chapter talking about inquiries—and how to engage them effectively. In fact, Chapter 4 is all about streamlining enrollment operations.
Once we have the students, now what? Helix’s guide also delves into retention, and highlights some key areas of focus, such as student coaching, predictive modeling, and personalized action plans.
Other chapters include how to leverage technology and data intelligence, as well as how and when to partner with a third-party.
When I review a book, I look at more than just its content. The presentation matters to me.
The Enrollment Growth Playbook is well-organized and easy to read. I’m a fan of its design; the highlighted content, “handwritten” notes, and even the doodles, give the book a friendly feel, while also pointing out important stats and calling attention to important blurbs. Most notably, this guide includes worksheets that allow you to immediately put some thoughts into action.
I highly recommend this guide—it’s a thin book, a quick read, and is a powerhouse of knowledge. That it focuses on marketing, advising, and operations reminds us that enrollment and retention is a team effort. No matter what your role in higher education, you’ll take something away from The Enrollment Growth Playbook. (Get your free copy here.)