Students value choice.
And often, the best students can choose from many institutions once they’ve been admitted. How does a university convince students to to avoid being part of the melt?
To find out, we invited Jay Jacobs, Director of Enrollment Management and Admission Operations at University of Miami, to come on the Enrollment Growth University podcast to discuss his school’s multi-tiered approach to increasing student yield.
The University of Miami is a private institution about 10,000 undergraduate students and about 5,000 to 6,000 graduate students in 11 different schools and colleges in South Florida.. As a minority/majority school with less than half of the students self-identifying as white, the University of Miami is proud of the vibrant environment it has created.
Jay has been a big part of that, first in undergraduate admissions and now in the operations side of admissions.
What is Student Yield?
“Yielding a student,” Jay said, “is more or less convincing that admitted student to enroll here at the University of Miami. When we talk yield rate, it’s the number of students who attend come our census date, divided by the number of students who are admitted for that entering term.”
To generate high yield, the University of Miami uses on-campus events as well as targeted events in feeder markets, like most other institutions do. But they do events differently. For instance, admissions partners with alumni and advancement so alumni can show student prospects the value of a University of Miami education.
Of course, the challenge is making sure that students who enroll on May 1st stay enrolled through the census date in the fall. Jay and his team do that through streamlined summer communication plans. Advisors in each of the undergraduate schools communicates with students throughout the summer months.
“This is our second year doing what we call a guide for parents and students,” Jay said. “I’m keeping tabs of enrolled students throughout the summer.”
Early Funnel Activities that Build College Brand Identity and Improve Student Yield
It’s important to find students who are the right fit for your school.
Jay and his team seek out students who behave like those who have been successful at the University of Miami in the past. When purchasing or licensing names, they strategically track what they call “affinity” towards The University of Miami in a number of different ways.
“A lot of our colleagues in admission across the country are so concerned about application generation,” Jay said. “We are not necessarily concerned about that. We are concerned about, do we have the right students in our applicant pool who want to be at The University of Miami?”
Cross-Departmental Collaboration to Improve Student Yield Strategies
“We have six or seven different departments housed under the enrollment management umbrella here at The University of Miami,” Jay told us. “Each one works very closely on all of these yield and anti-melt initiatives.”
The school also uses enrollment management systems and analytics – kind of a data-driven type of department – to help improve ROI on events. For Jay and his team, ROI doesn’t mean dollar figures. It means yield rates.
That starts by asking the search vendor about the likelihood of yield instead of the likelihood of application. It means asking which email campaign triggered student enrollment. And it means putting current students on Instagram to answer prospective student questions.
Jay also works with financial aid to get accurate aid packages out as early as possible, and the vast majority of aid packages get out with our admission offers. Then, the enrollment management team works closely with the retention staff in international student services center to make those I-20 and visa processes as smooth as possible for the international student cohort.
How Can Universities Improve Student Yield Rates?
“It’s going to differ from institution to institution,” Jay said. “Whether your yield-rate or your melt-rate is going to be the issue will probably depend on which initiatives you’re going to focus on the most.”
At a more philosophical level, it is important for colleges and universities to know who they are without being apologetic for that. At the University of Miami, the cost of attendance exceeds $70,000, and the university believes it is worth that.
“It’s up to us,” Jay said, “to go out and find the students who agree with our educational philosophy, our research, our education and our service mindset.”
If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.