“What we’ve done with Salesforce is build history, where the advisor can work very efficiently and see everything in one place.” - Jim Gilbert, Assistant Dean at George Mason University School of Management

George Mason University Drives Student Completion and Retention

Founded in 1972, George Mason University is the largest public 4-year school in Virginia.
Like many universities, George Mason University is growing, but facing resource constraints and dwindling support from the state. The plan is to graduate another 100,000 students over the next ten years, increase the student retention rate by about 12 percent, and the student completion rate by about 15 percent.

The students who attend the School of Management consist predominantly of transfer students from the Virginia community college system and include a large number of first-generation college students, veterans, active military personnel, and international students. Most of the students work either part- or full-time. The biggest challenge for the school is to support the varying needs of such a diverse student body. So in May 2011, they started using Salesforce to help the small staff of advisors and career counselors support the approximately 3500 students more efficiently.

“We’ve had to use a lot of different resources to try and just keep up with our students,” says Jim Gilbert, Assistant Dean at George Mason University School of Management.

The school uses a team advising model to manage the workload of the advisors and make them more available for the students. When the school switched to Salesforce, they started using Web to Case functionality. Students can now sign in for an appointment and specify what they want to talk about. Their case is entered into a queue. When a student comes in for the appointment, any of the available advisors can see the student and start off the discussion at the right point. After the meeting, the advisor makes notes in the student’s case record. Salesforce reporting has helped to connect students to the right resources more quickly and consistently, which is especially important for students who are at risk of failing academically.

Because all advisors can see a student’s case history, students get consistent information. It has helped cut down on “advisor shopping,” where students repeatedly come into the office trying to see a different advisor to get a different answer. As Jim Gilbert puts it: “What we’ve done with Salesforce is build history, where the advisor can work very efficiently and see everything in one place.”

Over the past year, Salesforce has helped identify and track that students who need to see an advisor are indeed coming in and getting assistance. Previously only about two-thirds of at risk students came in for advising whereas now that number is closer to 90 percent. This has been a critical first step in getting students on successful academic trajectories.

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