It’s Time to Modernize Your School’s Admissions Process

By Benjamin Rhodes | March 18, 2021 | , | Education, Higher Education, K-12 Education

Admissions Teams Are Personalizing and Unifying the Recruitment and Admissions Experience with a New Product from Salesforce.org

At Salesforce.org, we believe that equality begins with education. By now, the inequalities that the COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted — and the ways education institutions are responding to them — are well documented. At such a pivotal moment for the future of education, it’s critical that institutions act on their responsibility to create, implement, and drive both equity and access to education for students.

To do this, schools will need to adopt a data-driven, digital-first approach that can help them better serve students — from uncovering inequities within their own institutions to personalizing engagements with learners, and creating a more connected experience that helps ensure every prospective and current student has the support they need to succeed.

Admissions Connect, a purpose-built product from Salesforce.org, was created to do just that. Admissions Connect modernizes application management and review for K-12 and higher education admissions teams, giving them more time to nurture prospective students through the application and onboarding processes with omni-channel digital support, including chatbots. It was created with input and feedback from our Salesforce.org higher education community, like the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS).

As one of the first early Adopters of Admissions Connect, UCCS aims to use Admissions Connect and the Salesforce platform to deepen relationships with applicants and students across the learner lifecycle. Mathew Cox, senior executive director for enrollment management, is leading the implementation of Admissions Connect at UCCS. He shared how this new tool is helping him and his team transform the UCCS student experience.

How is technology helping to evolve the college admissions process?

Someone once told me years ago that admissions would change from admissions and enrollment-focused people with some understanding of tech, to tech-focused people with some understanding of admissions and enrollment — I thought at the time, “yeah right,” but here we are. The reality of today is that it’s both — enrollment management requires a tech-first approach.

Technology is now driving the ship, as opposed to being on the periphery. On the recruitment side of things, though, it’s been marketing. And to me, one of the challenges that began to emerge several decades ago as state funding shrunk and the importance of enrollment revenue increased, was and is that institutions are all trying to build revenue through building enrollment by expanding their market reach.

Enhancing our current enrollment efforts in support of our academic mission requires the best technology. We’re excited to partner with Salesforce.org to build engagement opportunities for our future students and families which will more seamlessly support students from initial interest and enrollment to graduation.

Students walking on UCCS campus

Admissions Connect is a purpose-built product that modernizes the application processes for K-12 and higher ed counselors.

What role does technology play in marketing as it pertains to recruitment and admissions for your team at UCCS?

At UCCS, we’ve been a growing school, and unlike some of the small institutions where I’ve been, we haven’t had to feel the strain of being 50 under on enrollment in our freshman class. We’ve experienced exponential growth over the last few years, though obviously we’re in the same boat as a whole host of schools that have missed enrollment targets this fall and spring.

We’re a selective institution with a balanced mission of access — we’re the only comprehensive doctoral-granting institution in Southern Colorado. So we serve an extremely diverse population that runs the gamut across all educational and socio-demographic stripes. The analytics piece of Salesforce is huge to help us understand who to focus our messaging and marketing efforts on.

That part of technology — finding ways to genuinely talk about who you are, what kind of place you are, what you do well — is a nice and necessary balance in a culture dominated by slick marketing and messaging. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not “anti high-end marketing”, I just want to make sure that students and families select institutions — ours or another — for the right reason: because it was genuinely the right place for them. Technology plays an important part in helping us push out the right messaging in the right way.

You’re using Admissions Connect across a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs, bringing data into the product from a number of different sources. How does all of this information come together in an actionable way?

Our old setup was inefficient and not user friendly, so we’re incredibly excited about being able to put everything into Salesforce and have it streamlined into one process that’s handled entirely within Admissions Connect. That takes the place of email flows, nudges for students to continue their application process, reminders for upcoming events, next steps for new students with orientation, etc.

UCCS student working on campus

UCCS uses Admissions Connect to streamline the application process and build stronger relationships with students.

How are you using the platform to personalize your communications with students?

There’s an expectation that the content a school is sending should be immediately relevant to the student or prospective student that’s tailored to their needs. So having the ability to customize messaging to students at each step of their journey — from initial contact to orientation — is an important opportunity for us to create some wins.

This new generation of students is used to personalized experiences in everything they do, so adapting our strategies to these expectations is important to keep students engaged.

With that more specific strategy comes an increased need for staff resources to really pull out all the stops moving forward. The ability for us to scale our team through technology to accomplish this higher level of customization and engagement is key. We aim to use Salesforce to have a consistent cadence of personalized communications with prospective students.

To learn more about providing a unified admissions experience, watch this demo of Admission Connect. Tune into today’s Leading Through Change episode at 10:00 a.m. PDT for an Admissions Connect demo featuring President Kennedy of the University of Colorado system.


About the Authors

Benjamin Rhodes, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Salesforce.org

Benjamin Rhodes is a senior product marketing manager at Salesforce.org. Prior to joining Salesforce.org, he led internal communications at Columbia Business School.

Matthew, University of Colorado - Colorado Springs

Mathew Cox has been leading enrollment management at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs for nine years. Prior to UCCS, he led enrollment and admissions at Brevard College, Millsaps College, and the University of Southern Mississippi.