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"Having all of this information in Salesforce gives our advisors the big picture" - Derek Bierman, Vice President of Technology Services

Northeast Community College Improves Recruiting and Retention using Salesforce for a 360-Degree View of Students

Community colleges today serve a very wide audience – from traditional full-time students, to transfer students and occupational program students. Recruiting and retaining such diverse student groups, each with unique needs, can be challenging.

Northeast Community College began tackling these challenges with Salesforce in 2009. Initially using the system for simple prospect communication and campus visit tracking, the college soon recognized the value of Salesforce’s open and flexible platform. Northeast began integrating Salesforce with its Student Information System (SIS) and other backend datasets across campus to streamline recruiting processes and launch a new retention initiative. “We wanted to make sure that however we built these new processes, they could be measured and scale – and we soon found that Salesforce was the answer to our needs,” said Derek Bierman, vice president of technology services.

Streamlining Recruiting Efforts

The college’s recruiters, who each manage 3,000 prospective students over the course of a year, now have one place to record conversations, track event attendance, manage application documentation, and set next steps. “We’re tracking all sorts of data in Salesforce,” said Amanda Nipp, dean of enrollment management. “We record prospect visits, their parents’ contact information, if they have applied for financial aid or submitted their test scores, their career interests, and much more.” This 360-degree view allows the small team to maximize its efforts by gauging the true interest of a prospect. Dynamic reports and dashboards also give management visibility into efficiency metrics. “With Salesforce, we can report on the average number of touch points a recruiter requires to enroll a student. We can then make real-time adjustments to be even more efficient and effective with our outreach,” said Nipp.

Early Intervention

In order to retain students and ensure their success, Northeast created a unique early-alert system for at-risk students. By filling out an online form, faculty and staff can now voice concerns they may have about a student. Students can also request help directly by filling out a similar form. Once submitted, these forms automatically populate a case in Salesforce and alert retention advisors.

Taking a more proactive approach, Northeast created its ‘FAME score’ – a predictor of attrition that takes into account variables such as a student’s academics, finances, and family situation. If a student’s FAME score reaches a certain threshold, retention advisors receive an automated alert so they can begin formulating an intervention plan. “Since Salesforce is integrated with our SIS, our advisors automatically know when a student withdraws from classes or changes from full-time to part-time and can contact the student,” said Bierman.

Academic support information is tracked in Salesforce as well. Advisors now have visibility into how many tutoring sessions an at-risk student has gone to and how long they stayed in each session. Faculty and staff can use analytics in Salesforce to monitor success rates of students who received academic support and compare them to those who didn’t. “Having all of this information in one place gives our advisors ‘the big picture’ and allows them to have honest conversations with students who may be struggling,” explained Bierman. To date, retention advisors have processed over 4,500 advising cases in Salesforce.

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