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How to Reduce Summer Melt

Episode 62

July 13, 2021 41 minutes


Summer melt is a challenge that every admissions team understands and works hard to address, even during the best of times. With in-person orientation and other large gatherings still limited at many colleges, this summer will prove exceptionally challenging.

Enrollment leaders from Robert Morris University and the University of Louisville join EAB’s Madeleine Rhyneer to talk about what they learned during last summer’s campus closures. They also share strategies for engaging students and families this summer, and for mixing on-campus events with virtual meet-ups to boost yield.



0:00:13.1 Speaker 1: Hello and welcome to Office Hours with EAB. We’re excited today, to welcome three enrollment experts from different schools and backgrounds, to talk about summer melt. In an average summer, somewhere between 5% and 20% of new admits to a university, tell the school they intend to enroll, some even pay a deposit, but they never show up on campus. This is definitely not going to be an average summer. Our guests urge listeners not to be in such a hurry to return to the pre-pandemic orientation and summer engagement playbook, but to apply lessons learned from last summer, to augment in-person events in advising sessions going on now. Thank you for listening, and enjoy.

0:01:03.2 Madeleine Rhyneer: Well, hello and welcome to Office Hours with EAB. My name is Madeleine Rhyneer, and I’m an EAB enrollment expert, helping partners succeed, after spending most of my career leading admission strategy and execution for a couple of colleges and universities. Today, we’re gonna talk about summer melt, an unwelcome occurrence that every enrollment leader faces. On average, between five and 20% of incoming students who indicate they intend to enroll and perhaps even paid a deposit, never show up on campus. It’s likely to be another unpredictable summer as we approach the new academic year. But today, I am joined by two exceptional enrollment leaders who aren’t taking melt for granted. They represent two universities whose market segments and a purchased a battling summer melt are very different and both are absolutely knocking it out of the park. I’m gonna ask them to introduce themselves. Tell us a little bit about their roles and their institutions. Kelly, will you start?

0:02:00.0 Kelly Lorenzi: Absolutely. Hello, Madeleine. My name’s Kelly Lorenzi. I’m the Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management at Robert Morris University. We’re located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and we enroll about 5000 students, so we’re a medium-sized private university right in the southwest corner of the state, and I oversee all the recruiting operations for traditional freshmen and transfer and graduate doctoral, the whole variety, the whole spectrum of segments for the university.

0:02:29.8 Jenny Sawyer: My name is Jenny.

0:02:30.6 MR: How about you?

0:02:31.9 JS: Oh, my name is Jenny Sawyer. I’m the Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Loiusville. We are a medium-sized public university, one of the two research one institutions in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and located in the largest metropolitan area in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. So a very diverse population.

0:02:56.4 MR: Thank you both, Kelly and Jenny. I would just say that when I had the opportunity to think about this podcast, Jenny and Kelly were the first two people that came to mind, because in the ongoing conversations we’ve had this year, their capacity to not only represent institutional interests, but always putting students and student success first, has really stood out in my mind. So I know that they’re gonna have some amazing insights to share with you today. So let’s get to it. Jenny, maybe you could start, kick off with this question. So how is your experience from last summer and then what you learned during covid in the last academic year? How is that shaping your plans for student orientation and engagement activities this summer? And are there things that you’re keeping from pre-COVID onboarding and orientation? And then what new things are you adding?

0:03:46.7 JS: So last summer, because we had to pivot so quickly and went… In the commonwealth, we went completely shelter in place, we moved to basically two components. A module component, where students did a virtual orientation, and then a one-on-one advising appointment.

0:04:08.1 JS: Okay, what we knew that we tried to do, but we knew we were really lacking, and we needed to add is, almost like it’s a mandatory component, is really that live type of interaction with current students. So we have a very strong student orientation team of student leaders. It’s one of the most highly regarded positions on our college… On our campus, and we know that that was missing, out of last summer. So we have added a component this summer, that takes that into consideration. It’s still virtual, but it is a live session. The leaders were trained on how to do those. Those have been very popular, the students have been more engaged than what we thought they might have been. And then yesterday, we kicked off what we call office hours with the student orientation team. So they’re reaching out to the students and having one-on-one type of conversations and they’ve got open hours, where the students can either call them virtually, you have a meeting with them or even come to campus and meet with them. So that’s one of the things, is that peer-to-peer type of connection that happens, that we added into this year that…

0:05:27.1 JS: But we are really anxious to be back to just our full, day and a half overnight orientation program, which is our typical experience that we’ve had and fine-tuned over the years, next summer.

0:05:40.2 MR: So you’re not doing that this summer, Jenny?

0:05:43.2 JS: No, we’re not. So we really did have… When we had to make a call on that, because of the number of freshmen and all of the logistics of that, we were still getting some struggle with our advising for the advising piece, being in person. And so that kind of drove the decision, which I wish had been different, I think we all wish had been different.

0:06:10.8 MR: Well, it is what it is.

0:06:14.7 JS: Yeah. In February, there were still questions about what the vaccine would roll out would be, particularly for 17-year-olds and from people coming from all over the United States. So we took a conservative approach when it comes to that, and that has been… The common wealth’s decisions when it came to how we did business, whether it be restaurants, bars, universities, we’ve taken a conservative approach all along, and because of that, we’ve had a pretty low positivity rate.

0:06:50.2 MR: That’s great.

0:06:51.8 JS: That’s the good news.

0:06:51.8 MR: Yeah. It is. So Kelly, tell us what’s happening at RMU.

0:06:58.6 KL: So we echo a lot of what Jenny says. Last year, we all got… I’ll use the highly overused word of the year, which is pivot, and we had to do tremendous amount of pivoting last year, to essentially put our orientation program online, and part of the admission side, the recruiting side had to really do away with what we know have been incredibly effective, face-to-face, in person, again, peer-to-peer types of on-campus opportunities for the incoming freshman class. So that was very, very challenging for us, because the type of school we are and the type of campus we are, we know that our students getting on to campus physically is a huge part of how we close the deal, I guess you could say, and as it is for a lot of schools. But we really were lacking that face-to-face component last year, so this year, we really kind of super charged that initiative and didn’t go even back to what we did pre-COVID.

0:07:52.0 KL: We took the whole for what we call pre-orientation, kinda flipped it on a tad and said, “This really needs to be an early look at the fun side of campus, reminding students that we are getting back to business this fall.” And so we went extremely aggressive with face-to-face events, really geared toward getting the students here with our other students, our current students, get them engaged and learn about life as a student, being part of the community.

0:08:19.7 KL: They got to go into their physical residence halls, where they would be housed. We were lucky enough to be able to add that component. So they went to these sessions together as little pods or communities, to see their building together, meet building mates while they were here for one of the events. We just did everything that we could, to create sort of a community environment, really trying to make that stickiness for the students and the families. We did a big lunch on the lawn and we had an ice-cream truck and lawn games, and all the student organizations were there. Again, we had to follow, obviously, the PA state guidelines, so we did everything within line of having to cap events and social distancing and doing all the things that we needed to do. But we were fortunate that when it started to be time to roll these events out, the state was starting to get a little bit less restrictive, which enabled us to bring folks in, do it safely, do it masked in some instances, if need be, as per the requirements of the CDC and the state.

0:09:17.3 KL: But we were able to put those events together and give those… Our incoming class, what they’ve been, I think, starving for the whole year, which is a fun, celebratory way to take that next step and get ready for college, because they lacked that so much. And as a mom of a student that graduated last year, I can tell you, these kids are really starving for those opportunities, and we heard it loud and clear with this freshman class, and the parents and the students who came in are just… They’ve been grateful, they’ve been energized about the experience about getting their kids on to campus in the fall, and they just really… Just a lot of people were just thanking us, “Thank you for opening up, thank you for being here, thank you for welcoming our students and showing us that there’s a light and they’re gonna have this really great, great beginning to what was not a great end to a school year last year, unfortunately.”

0:10:07.0 KL: So it was a lot of work, it was a lot of, “Let’s pivot again and change it, and tweak it, every single program,” but we’ve got our last one actually coming up here soon, and it should be another full house, and the feedback has been great, and I think it’s created a really good stickiness and affinity. Students are meeting our students and meeting others on campus and really kind of reassuring them that, “Yeah, this is the right choice, this is where I belong.” It was just a good opportunity to re-affirm for them, that they chose the right place. So we were lucky to be able to do that, as I know, many schools just aren’t places where they just couldn’t. So we feel lucky.

0:10:42.8 MR: What I appreciate about what both of you have shared is, first of all, the role that you have allowed your current students turned ambassadors to play. I loved Jenny talking about, at Louisville, that it’s one of the most prized positions on campus. You get students who love the institution and can’t wait to share their appreciation for it and all the inside scoop with new students, and I also think… I appreciate that there are some business practices that need to occur, that are part of the onboarding process, but it feels to me, that sort of in the pre-COVID years, a lot of orientations were a little bit more about the formalities and the business processes, and a little bit less about the fun. And what I’m hoping is, is that, maybe one of the enduring silver linings of COVID, I’m always looking for silver linings is that, there can be a balance between the two and that you can really allow your current students to shine and have this great presence and leadership role, and students can still get the business done that they need to do, but that they can do it in an environment that is more celebratory and less like, “Okay, these are these check boxes,” ’cause nobody loves check boxes and they love fun. And they love connecting with their own new classmates and they love connecting with their peers.

0:11:56.4 KL: Yeah. I agree, Madeleine. I don’t wanna interrupt you, but I just wanna add one of the things too, that I would encourage all folks in enrollment to think about is, as you unpack this year, to look at what you did, that worked and what didn’t and not be afraid to get rid of the stuff that you don’t like to do anymore, get rid of the stuff that didn’t work this year, but really pay close attention to what did work and do more of it. Don’t be fragment to say, “COVID taught us this. Let’s replicate it, do more of it,” because I don’t imagine we will ever be going back to that transactional environment of an event or program of any kind. We did, as you said, all the behind the scenes, the scheduling and all the kind of box checking got done behind the scenes, so the students could just come and hear speakers and go to the residence halls and have a picnic on the lawn and have a good time, and that was really what we wanted them…

0:12:49.1 KL: We called it day one, ’cause we wanted them to realize, this was your first day, this is day one at RMU, and the rest is just gonna get better.

0:12:57.1 MR: What we know from research that we’ve done at EAB, that summer melt can be particularly acute for low-income and under-represented students. Often, the people who are maybe struggling the most to be able to pay for college, who may not have a good support system at home, not because people don’t care, but they’re just not in a position to be providing a lot of advice. So what’s your advice? Do you think school should try and adopt a more personalized approach for students that you know may be in groups who in general are just… It’s just harder for them. Maybe you could share your thoughts about those groups. Jenny, what do you do in Louisville?

0:13:34.0 JS: So we did a program that we had actually done physically, around the country and throughout the commonwealth and on campus, in the past, called Coffee with the Card. So we’re the Louisville Cardinals. And so, we were doing this actually, in coffee shops, but when we pivoted to virtual, we decided to still do these appointments and we enticed people with a $5 gift card to Starbucks, and we figured out a simple way to do it, and it gave students…

0:14:13.5 JS: And we particularly focused on those low-income first generation students, it gave those students anywhere from a 30-minute to a 60-minute private one-on-one appointment, where they didn’t have to feel intimidated because they were sitting in a room full of people, and they could ask their questions and we could kinda go through a check on them and give them individual information about what placement tests they needed, what their… Answer questions about their financial package, help them through next steps. Some of those things that we know that they were getting guidance from, in their high schools, through their community-based organizations, and some of those things that just people who have the benefits of having parents who’ve gone to college or connected, get that information. Those were highly, highly popular. And our staff…

0:15:07.2 JS: So one thing I think that was interesting is, our staff got a little disappointed because they thought that there were going to be a lot of decision-making, like close the deal types of meetings, and a lot of them were meetings with students who had already decided. And one of the things we tried to tell our students when it comes to summer melt is… Not our students, our staff, is that, that actually was reducing summer melt and also beginning that retention process that had helped that student have a relationship… Strengthen that relationship with an individual on the student, and it helped that student not to have to navigate all that information that’s out there, because it’s overwhelming. And that’s one of the things we’ve continued to try and tell our team is that, we need to be giving students little bits of information and pulling them along, and when I talk about students, I’m talking about… For us, it’s that last 20%. Don’t give them the whole bale of hay, is what the expression I use. Give ’em what they need, to move them along, then they’re not overwhelmed. When they’ve done that, then help them to the next step.

0:16:18.0 JS: And so we’ve really tried to take those to… Starting with Coffee with the Cards, and now through kind of a… We call it our concierge campaign that we have going on right now, with our last 20%. But it’s basically that same thing, just giving them that one-on-one type of attention, that shows them that there is someone to help them through.

0:16:41.6 MR: Jenny, what I really appreciate about that is that, don’t give them the whole bale of hay. I’m gonna remember that. That’s a great phrase, because often, we tell people everything and they won’t remember it. And I’m thinking, “I wouldn’t remember it either.” So this isn’t about low income or disadvantaged, this is about, “What do I need to know today,” like you said, “to move forward? And then in a month, I can tell you the next things you need to know, to move forward. You don’t need the whole banana or the whole bale of hay today.” And I think that’s hugely important.

0:17:14.8 MR: So how are you thinking about that, Kelly?

0:17:17.8 KL: Yeah, I agree. I think our slogan this year was students… Our counselor staff has really just been… You’ve gotta meet students where they are, we’ve gotta meet the families where they are right now, not where we think they should be, not where some pre-published timeline of benchmarks says they should be. So in October, while we were messaging pas that, we were very careful about just not shoving it down everyone’s throat. Everyone is kind of shell-shocked, these are students who have just lost a season of a sport, they are students that are losing out on the college search, the traditional search process, and all of the things, as one of my counselor says she uses, and I steal that all the time. It’s all the things.

0:18:00.0 KL: And they were missing those. And so, we were very deliberate about meeting people where they were, backing up things. We did back up our a aid award packaging this year, I’m gonna put it out later, because we just felt that at the time that we normally would have started doing that, there would have been a lot of deaf ears out there, focused on things like trying to get bills paid, to people back to work, get my son or daughter through their senior year, or whatever was going on in everyone’s household. And so it was very important just to meet families where they were. We did a lot of… We do this every year, but we were a lot more intentional this year, about the financial aid advising and the way it took place in our office, because our efficient team actually does that piece of the work in conjunction with training from our financial aid department. So they’re cross-trained and we had a mission this year, to really, again, utilize what people were getting used to, which was Zoom. A year and a half ago, if I told a parent, “You need to get on a Zoom meeting,” they’d have been like, “I’m not doing that. I don’t wanna do that. I don’t know how to do that.”

0:19:03.0 KL: It doesn’t sound exciting to me, and now everybody’s in Zoomland, and we said, “You know what, let’s just do this whole Zoom campaign for financial aid appointments.” And we had hundreds of people take us up on these. Just sit down, depth-sounding is what I call it, is just sort of… Let’s go over the package, let’s talk about it. Let’s not ask for things like, “Does this look good to you? Are you gonna be able to afford this? Are you ready to deposit?” But just, “Do you understand it? Do you need help with it? Do you have questions I can answer?” To just really, again, meet people where they were, acknowledged that everybody needed a little bit of extra love this year. And I think that was really, really important, and I think it went a long way with families. It’s just sort of what I call admissions 101. It’s like, just back to the basics, build relationships, be consistent, communicate and just to make sure people get what they need. And I think that was important, and it was… It’s authentic to kinda what we do anyway, but I think families really felt it and appreciated it more than ever just because of the kind of year it’s been.

0:20:00.1 KL: So the common gestures went a lot further this year than maybe they have in years past, but that was very important for us to do that for all students, but as you mentioned, for some of those underserved students, where we’re located near the Pittsburg area, we have a large population of students that come to us from our city schools and surrounding area, and it was really important just to to pay special attention to those students because they… Again, lacked access to school counselors, all the things that we know are important to them, and really, we’re intentional about working with those school counselors as well, not just the families, but what can we do to help you. What can our university to support you, not to get your students to RMU, but just to help you survive this year with all of your students. And then I think that that was an important thing that we felt was helpful in recruiting students, but also just being a good partner in the community and making sure the schools knew that we were there to support them ’cause they were having a tough year like everyone else.

0:20:58.8 MR: Yeah. Wow. Well, I appreciate what you said about getting back to basics, ’cause this was a year where even though it is definitely, I think harder to build relationships in a virtual world, that people need those relationships more than they ever did because they’re harder to get. And empathy and caring, those are words that I think go a long way with families. And of course, we all care about our enrollment results for our college or university this year but there’s a lot of buying good will that goes on with the kinds of activities that the two of you are describing, good word of mouth, “They cared about me, they cared about my circumstance, they reached out to me, they helped me, and I felt heard and valued.” This is huge, so that’s gonna pay you dividends going forward. When we think about melt, it’s not just new students, but when you think holistically about enrollment, there’s also the risk of continuing students deciding to stop out, maybe economic disruption has finally caught up with your family, maybe they were in a virtual learning environment last year, and they’re like, “Oh yeah. No, not so much. I didn’t love that.”

0:22:08.7 MR: And they’re thinking differently. Are there any plans, maybe Kelly, you could start… Are there any things that you’ve done to sort of what I would say re-recruit or re-enroll continuing students that you identified as being at risk?

0:22:25.2 KL: Yeah, that’s a great question, Madeleine. And obviously, incredibly important to all schools, we always say it’s more efficient to retain a student than it is to try to recruit more to replace them, and so retention is obviously on our radar all the time, every year in every circumstance. But this year in particular, because there’s so much more risk involved with those numbers changing and shifting due to what’s going on in the environment, but yeah, we’ve spent a good bit of time and a lot of discussion at the senior leadership level at the university with ways that we can support the students, number one, to make sure they have what they need to return or to at least understand what their circumstances are that would prevent them from returning, to see where we can support, where we can help. We are working right now, our dean of students and their whole team is doing a phenomenal job of just making sure that every student’s accounted for. If you haven’t registered, we know why, we know where you are, we know what’s causing you to not register at this point in time for the fall.

0:23:24.2 KL: And we’re trying to work through those individual situations, and they are all different, I’m staying out altogether, I’m putting it on hold for right now, or just some multitude of reasons. We have a task force in place that has spent a lot of time deliberately looking at ways to distribute HEERF funds that’s been… I know Jenny and I talked about this a bit on a pre-call, but just the university has worked very hard and diligently to make sure that the dollars that we’ve received to support students are going to those who need it most, those who are in special circumstances, we’ve reserved dollars to do appeals and special considerations, and so we spent a lot of time dissecting our returning student population to identify where are the pockets where this money could do the most good for the most students to support them and keep them enrolled at the university. So I think that… I’m sure all schools across the country who benefited from those funds which are so necessary, are looking at ways to be strategic about how you support the greatest number of students who have the greatest need, and that’s where we’ve spent a lot of time this summer and spring, very heavily focused on that. And I think that’s important and I think probably all schools would agree with that.

0:24:40.3 MR: So Jenny, maybe you could share some of the work that you’ve done and also the incredible innovation at the University of Louisville in terms of your allocation of those HEERF funds, I mean, it’s astonishing, what you’re accomplishing.

0:24:53.8 JS: So one of the things, and it’s not huge numbers, but it’s that we’re really proud of, and we kicked off on Wednesday of last week, was a math program we called Math Accelerator, and we are using HEERF dollars as an incentive to have students who’ve already deposited, who’ve already enrolled, but when they go to their advising appointment, their advisor knows that they’re behind in mathematics, and so they’re entering one of our two courses that lead into our general education courses, so we have 40 online and 40 in-person students who are doing these courses and they get an incentive for completing the course, 100% participation, and then they get another incentive from HEERF dollars if at the end of the fall semester they have passed the math class that they placed into at the end of the program, and we had just… Except for a handful of students all showed up on day one and had been participating.

0:26:06.9 JS: I’ve long been a believer in the fact that one of the ways to improve our graduation rates and our retention rates is to really help those students who struggle with mathematics and getting over that hurdle. So we kinda use this as an opportunity to have some dollars for incentives for that program, and to also know that for some of our programs, for some of those students who’s struggling with math to begin with, doing Math in an NTA environment only made their issues worse. So that’s one of the things that we’re doing. We also have, we call it our alert team, its Enrollment Lightning Response Team, and we have some faculty members on that group, we have some groups, some folks from Student Affairs, and then we have our Student Success Coordinators. But one of the things that we had not done in the past to reach out to students who had not registered yet to come back for the next fall semester, was to really drill down and look at the student organizations that they were a part of, and so we have gotten our advisors for those student organizations actively involved, so they can reach out and then connect those students with the people who have access to the HEERF dollars, if that’s the need, or if there’s other barriers that is keeping the student from coming back to school.

0:27:26.7 JS: And then we did some things down all the way, we had typically done that with academic advisors, we had never done juniors and seniors, and actually gone to the faculty in the departments who actually they know those students, they have mentored relationships with those students to see why those students were not yet registered, or if those students had always been a full-time student, why were they only registered for part-time classes for the fall, was there… And do we have the resources? So we’ve taken our HEERF dollars, our Student Success Coordinators have access to a portion of those institutional dollars. Our financial aid team now has access to some of those dollars. You’re required by HEERF dollars to do a certain amount of outreach about professional judgment for families who may have lost income through the pandemic. On July 27th, we’re having a virtual presentation to walk first time freshmen students and transfer students through what a professional judgment is. And then both for continuing students and new students that are enrolled.

0:28:37.3 JS: Our financial aid counselors have access to some HEERF dollars for students that maybe they don’t get to the eligibility for need-based aid but they’re still struggling. And so those are some of the things that we’re doing to utilize our HEERF dollars, and then we’ll go out this week with our institutional grants, our institutional… What we call our automatic HEERF grants, about $8 million. It’s a lot of money, right? [chuckle]

0:29:12.2 MR: I’m sure the people that are gonna get that will think, “Oh, thank you.” [chuckle] “Oh, thank you so much.”

0:29:21.5 JS: For so many students, it’s their third… For some of the particularly low incomes students, it will be their third HEERF payment that they’ve gotten, and those payments have gone a long way in helping them with rent, loss of job hours, maybe parents not able to contribute at the same level. Not everything shows up in our FASFA data, and so I do think that loss of income is something that’s been hard for us to measure. Students’ loss of income.

0:29:56.8 MR: Yes, right. Well, you know what I love about what has happened at the University of Louisville is, a lot of times at big comprehensive institutions, people are sort of like, we don’t have the capacity. We don’t have the resources to reach out to students individually. And although I never worked at a big comprehensive university, I often think, oh, horse fellas, because you have a ton of people on campus who are absolutely devoted to student success. Faculty members love their students in their majors, people that are in campus life, they love their student leaders and people active in organizations, and if you can tap into that love for students, it becomes non-administrative burden, it becomes, I wanna help a student today, opportunity and to allow them to continue and finish and fulfill their dream of an education and that… Again, you’re the poster child for, oh no, yes, we can. And we all know you won’t save every student, you won’t save every family, but there’s been this enormous good faith effort that crosses across campus, it’s not just a few people who, “This is my job, so I do it.” It’s everyone who just wants to help students be successful. And your capacity to tap into that good… Internal good-will has been phenomenal.

0:31:15.5 JS: Thank you.

0:31:17.4 MR: Just quickly, are there any other institutional barriers that you identified, like registrations are a pain in the neck for students or other things? Are there any other institutional barriers you identify that you were able to sort of… We were able to streamline or minimize those barriers to make it better for students, could be new students could be returning?

0:31:40.1 JS: So we did more aggressively let students who didn’t make our scholarship renewable criteria, we did more aggressively get them to appeal, because particularly those first time freshmen who we know we did not onboard fully, right. We know they didn’t get that sense of belonging, we know they couldn’t walk right into the tutoring center, right? That’s on us as much as we tried to overcome lots of barriers, it was particularly for that group of students, it was not the same experience, and so we really tried to show those students some grace by letting them know, you do this and we will do something for you. We don’t know how much we can do for you, but we will do something for you. And we think we were very successful in that measure.

0:32:44.0 MR: What kind of feedback did you get, Jenny? Did students… I mean, it just feels like students would be super appreciative, like thank you for reaching out a helping hand.

0:32:52.9 JS: Oh, it’s like anything else. You get some people who are super appreciative and some people are like, “Why can’t you do more?”


0:33:03.2 MR: Well, I guess what I’d love for you to do is if each of you could wrap up with what are your sort of top pieces of advice that you would give your friends and peers across the country who perhaps haven’t been as creative on their own, but who hopefully will be listening to this podcast and go, “Oh my gosh, we could try that, or we can tweak that,” this initiative that they had, and maybe we could find a way to make it work for our campus. So your top three pieces of advice, Kelly, I’m gonna start with you.

0:33:38.0 KL: Okay, I would say most importantly is to be nimble, just always be nimble and be willing to change and redo and do over. So the ideas that we did it this way… ‘Cause I’ve actually talked with some folks who have said, we are finally back to doing it the way we did it before COVID, and I thought, “Why would you go back? Why would you not be going forward and trying to learn from what we’ve all learned from this year,” so I think just embracing what you’ve learned and be nimble is really important. I also think that schools… Just my observation is that I think we all better be prepared to reset yearly. I don’t think this is going to be a unique thing that this year it was COVID, and so now we’re changing things, I think every year schools are gonna have to get used to re-writing the strategic enrollment plan a little better, making some addendums to it on a yearly basis, because the population, it’s evolving so quickly, and I mean that in terms of the way they consume information, the way they research colleges, the ways that they expect to be communicated with both parents and students, and so I think there is no playbook anymore I think there’s a foundation to the way we do our work, but I think that there’s gonna be a need and a demand from our market to…

0:34:55.0 KL: We’ve gotta re-evaluate every year and continue to take what works, get rid of what doesn’t, don’t be… No hurt feelings about my ideas aren’t good ideas anymore, it’s like just the constant moving. It’s just a constant rotation, I think for the foreseeable future. I think as we look towards the demographic cliff and all the things we know are coming, I just think that schools should sort of brace themselves for the idea that you can’t stand still, you’ve gotta just be evolving. And I think lastly, it would be to look at the resources you have within, because we’re all limited in terms of dollars and the hands on deck, let’s say, and so it’s sort of look internally and see what you already have, see who you have, like you were saying, Jenny, you’ve obviously galvanized a great team of people across campus there to do all this good work and RMU has done the same. We’ve Incorporated, we’ve got committees with people from IT and student life, and we’re all working together to look at how can we unpack this data and learn about this group so we can do more for them. And I think it’s just really looking internally at your experts that you already have on your campus and how do we utilize who’s here because everybody at the end of the day, as I tell everyone, We’re on the same team.

0:36:05.2 KL: So how do we get those people that do great work and understand parts of the university that we don’t, how do we put those brains all together and think about the best ways to serve our students going forward, and I think that a lot of schools might be surprised to finally have they’ve got so many internal people that have so much capacity to do so much good work, and so I would say those are some really just important things to focus on, and those are the things you can think about in a positive way, these are positives, let’s look at what we’ve got, not what we don’t, and how do we harness that to get to our goal.

0:36:42.1 MR: Thanks, Kelly. And Jenny, what about you?

0:36:45.4 JS: So I think that one of the things that we keep talking about the words we use so much, and two of those other words are to show students compassion and grace, and I think we all work to do that and to help students through situations and show that grace, I say that all the time, and I don’t think that’s something we just need to be doing in these times, I think it’s something that we always need to be doing. Okay. And we need to be doing as much as possible to kinda meet that student where they are and to listen to them and to help them reach their educational goals. I think we learned, education is known, higher education is particularly known for moving slowly, we learned that we can move fast and we should not accept going back to moving slowly. We can make decisions and make change, we can adjust policies, we can do things quickly when we need to, and again, in order to be competitive, we are going to need to take that lesson and move back and stay with that. Okay. The other thing is, when you think about our students and grace, I think we all learned as managers how to work with our team and how to keep our team… Their mental health, and to show them grace and help them balance their family and work life.

0:38:27.4 JS: And I always thought that I was really good with helping staff and balancing, I have a lot of young mothers on my team, but I think I moved forward as a manager in understanding and taking care of my team, because if I don’t take care of my team they can’t take care of our students. And so I think that our staff and our teams are… So hopefully that’s a lesson that we all moved forward. Not to say that we weren’t there, but that we moved forward because particularly in enrollment management with the pressures we have and with everything changing and how… Like you said, Kelly, just having to… We’re always going to have to be re-evaluating and changing things up, we have a tendency to get burnt out. And so I think there’s some lessons from this time that we’ve learned that we’ll move forward.

0:39:28.9 MR: Okay, those are super impactful, and I want you to know I was making notes because these are some very sage words of advice, and I’m sure that our listeners will appreciate them, I certainly have appreciated them, so I wanna say thank you for giving us at least a big part of that bale of hay, Jenny. And some of all the things, Kelly, because those are both great expressions, but I really wanna thank both of you again, so Kelly Lorenzi and Jenny Sawyer, we really appreciate you joining us for Office Hours with EAB. Thank you so much.

0:40:04.4 KL: Thank you. My pleasure.

0:40:05.9 JS: Thank you, Madeleine. My pleasure.


0:40:13.0 Speaker 1: Thanks for listening. Join us next week when EAB’s Michael Fisher and Michael Vada share findings from a new EAB survey that reveals how university human resources officers are shaping post-pandemic remote and hybrid work policies for campus employees. Thank you for your time.

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