Last week was office moving day for a few folks at S&K. We are hiring another research analyst, the second time in three years that the research team has expanded in order keep up with the demand for our core services, which require significant data analysis and predictive modeling.
The move into “new territory” for some S&K staffers made me think of what should happen when an admissions office decides to expand into new markets/geographic territories. In preparation for our office move, there was measuring, measuring, and more measuring, all in an effort to make the move very efficient once the professional movers arrived to begin the heavy lifting. There was none of the “how does this look here?” or “do you think this will fit there?” or “let’s try it over here instead.” Nothing was left to chance because the correct data (read: measure) had already occurred.
For institutions that are considering branching out into new markets or increasing time spent in secondary markets, it too, should be a data-driven process. Inquiry and especially application data should be gathered from at least the three most recent years. For predominantly SAT schools, Enrollment Planning Service (EPS) should be a consideration to evaluate if your competition has market penetration that is stronger or weaker than yours in the markets you are considering. Predominantly ACT schools should consider Enrollment Information Service (EIS) for a similar evaluation. Is there an alumni presence in the target market being considered? Where do your athletic teams compete? Is there brand awareness of your institution in those markets?
The point is, a plan to expand into new markets must be grounded in data, not a “how about here, or what about there” strategy as the movers carry around the heavy desks (read: admissions spends unnecessary time and money) just going by feel and intuition. Once you have taken the plunge, it is important to allow time for your efforts to take hold. And of course, regularly assessing your progress is critical.
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About the author: Enrollment Management Consultant Mary Piccioli joined Scannell & Kurz in April of 2009. She consults on a variety of enrollment management topics, both strategic and operational in nature – from strategic financial aid analysis and strategic enrollment planning to financial and admissions operations reviews. She previously served as Assistant Vice President of Institutional Research and Planning as well as the Dean of Enrollment at St. Bonaventure University, where her responsibilities included undergraduate and graduate admissions, financial aid and institutional research. Prior to that position she served 14 years as the Director of Financial Aid.
Mary holds a B.S. degree in mathematics and an M.B.A, both from St. Bonaventure University.