“Strategic” doesn’t have to mean complicated or difficult. It can simply mean we’ve made a clear choice that aligns with our overall plan.
This past spring, we decided that if we truly want students to succeed at Trinity Western University, we should show them that we care that they stay enrolled. We could have got all complexified over it but instead we thought we would start with a very simple “hey, we care about you” approach. Our amazing Associate Registrar produced a list of students who were eligible to register for fall classes but who had not yet done so (ok that was a little complicated). Then we called a meeting of student life leaders in which we we asked them to contact these unregistered students to say, “We noticed you haven’t registered for classes yet. Can we help you?” That was easy, gave them a reason to talk to the students they care about, and they readily agreed to do it.
We had no other plan than that. We didn’t know exactly what would happen, but we agreed that we would deal with it when we learned more.
What happened? A few things:
- we learned that some students didn’t think we cared and were planning on leaving, but when we contacted them it was enough to encourage them stay.
- we learned that some students were having a hard time meeting their financial obligations, so we put them in touch with our Financial Aid office or the Registrar’s Office staff to provide them with loan options, scholarships and awards options, as well as payment plan options.
- a few were concerned about their grades, so we put them in touch with the Student Success Centre.
- several students were not sure what to register for, so we put them in touch with their faculty adviser.
- 93 students from this list registered for courses this fall. Celebration time!
Then we made another strategic enrolment management decision: we would do this again next semester… That was a no-brainer!
OK, there was a little more involved than I’m letting on. First, we relied on data to help us make the decision to do this. We noticed that were was a large group of students who had not yet registered for fall classes. Then we relied on real-time reporting and tracking of response rates and updating our data. I gave everyone weekly updates on how we were doing which really helped maintain momentum. Success breeds success.
(I’m letting you in on the no-brainer part, but if anyone asks me about this project, I’ll say this was a critical part of our strategic enrolment management plan for supporting student success. I might throw in some more high-falootin’ jargon to make sure they are sufficiently impressed.)