Technology a key player in UCCS student retention

Student recruiters attended the Oct. 9 Faculty Assembly meeting to show how software used in the recruiting process can affect retention.

The presentation by Chris Beiswanger, director, Student Recruitment and Admissions Counseling, and Eric Nissen, assistant director, Student Recruitment and Admissions Counseling, dealt with the Hobson’s customer relationship management software and recruitment office practices.

The pair remarked that recruiting the most qualified students in the first place has major impact on retention. They said they hoped to help faculty members understand the tools and processes the recruiters use to improve faculty efforts to retain students and to coordinate retention activities overall.

“Our goal is to show the faculty the various ways we connect with prospective students by using technology and work together to find ways to better recruit these interested students,” Beiswanger said.

Although the technology is nominally about customer relationships, students do not directly equate to being customers even though many of the principles are the same, Beiswanger said. Recruitment personnel have tweaked the process to fit prospective students and some conversion to the Oracle system used at UCCS was required, he said. He deferred to Nissen as the “software expert,” who continued the presentation.

Nissen pointed out the major benefits of the software, saying the program compliments other recruiting and marketing activity. It integrates communication: mailings and electronic contact, personal web pages and various web links.

Nissen said the program organizes and manages the data involving thousands of students and potential students. A student’s interests and activities as well as grades and test scores are listed, catalogued and stored by the system along with enough individual information to make contact with a potential student a personal experience for him or her. He talked about how Boomer, the UCCS mascot, delivers e-mail birthday greetings to potential students. E-mail is used widely, he said, to remind prospective students of opportunities to visit campus, to have questions answered, and to learn about the campus and its individual colleges. It is also used for more critical purposes such as deadlines for registration and submission of paperwork.

But another aspect of the program, Nissen said, is to compile figures and percentages reflecting past efforts. Data on the class of 2008 includes numbers of e-mails sent and received, the number of interactions made with the students, and number of phone contacts. The 2008 information and statistics helped guide strategy and policies for recruiting the class of 2009. He added that the continuing accumulation of such data helps refine ongoing recruitment practices.

The pair praised the advantages of the technology but said also that being out in public promoting UCCS and representing the university in a positive light is a regular recruitment practice as well.

“Faculty can be a key component in the recruitment process and we greatly appreciate the interest and involvement with our efforts,” Beiswanger said.

Assembly President Andrew Czaplewski said in his president’s report, “I believe that we can all take ideas back to each of our colleges for how we can better support student recruitment. ”

He said a modern customer relationship program provides many possibilities for individual colleges and faculty to be more involved in student recruitment. He noted a lesson to be learned in how the College of Engineering has used the program to help with their recruitment efforts.

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