Graduation Rates, Retension and Revenue.
The industry of Higher Education continues to evolve with new demands that develop each year. It’s becoming more evident that colleges and universities must change the way they operate. The ability to overcome the unique challenges that directly impact revenue and graduation rates continues to become increasingly difficult.
Gainful employment has now added another layer of reporting to the ever changing mandates “The Feds” employ. The persistent modifications imposed by Federal and State agencies who mandate regulations can be an over reaching burden colleges and students. The Higher Education Community continues to adapt but it can be very frustrating trying to catch the backlog of congruency within an institution.
Weaknesses within departments cause an adverse influence on other areas. Every area including, Admissions, New and Continuing Student Financial Services, Academics, Housing, Sports, Clubs and Alumni have an explicit influence on attrition, graduation rates and accounts receivable. Where are the weak links within a given institution? Because departments are so interconnected, the procedure they use to interact and communicate with each other dictates the outcome that determines their level of success. Any discord between departments hinders the flow of vital information and can cause fatal errors that can lead to attrition and revenue loss. While this statement is obviously true, the oversights go unnoticed and/or unchanged in many institutions. The fact remains that communication breakdown is prevalent in the college environment.
Why is does this happen? Why do colleges take so long to make changes that would have a profound impact on attrition and revenue? “Business as usual” is stifling many colleges and unless they adapt to a new philosophy, they will continue to struggle while their employees constantly feel as if they are putting out fires.
We are in the 21st century and we must use emerging technology and communication techniques that transmits information that resolves problems on a global scale (within the institution) or suffer the consequences. This statement is aggressive but denying it will cause long term ill effects and possibly the demise of some institutions.
All too often areas within the institution are at odds with each other when it comes to certain fundamental characteristics such as Academics and Student Financial Aid. For example, the dynamics associated to the unique adjustments of each student generated by failed classes, loss of aid, verification etc… All cause change in their academic standing and financial package. There must be the highest level of effective communication and complete congruency within the entire institution or the result is loss because of frustrated students and overwhelmed employees.
The ability to create a flow of information that is immediate and complete so that it can be expedited accurately within the scope of every department affected is vital. Too many good colleges with great employees struggle to try to stay on top of these ongoing common difficulties. This is not for lack of ability but their refusal to acknowledge and need for change.
Another challenge is getting student to complete the documents needed so you can get paid. Every institution struggles with complacent students. From the filing of the FAFSA to Verification, proof of citizenship, MPN, PLUS Loan Authorization etc.. We must make sure students complete all of the needed documents on time so they can stay in school and we can continue to grow financially. If financial eligibility is not a problem, then how is it that colleges lose money? For one, following the dollar all the way through to the end seems to elude many institutions. What does that mean exactly? One example is when a student withdraws and they need something simple like a Signature Page or Late Disbursement Letter. Who is the follow up person? Is someone relegated to that position? Chasing the doc to get paid. Who it contacting the student and explaining the loss of aid? Many times it’s no one. This is just one of 10 areas of loss.
Finally, when you add the increasing competition generated by the flood of Online degree programs, you have to wonder if you are doing everything possible in every way to gain maximum proficiency while remaining competitive. The old way of doing thing is gone and it’s time colleges embrace a new, better way of communicating and doing business. To many are still dragging your feet hoping to improve but continue to overwhelm staff which causes frustration and a difficult environment. The internal procedure and communication process including your policy can allow for real success that reduces dissatisfaction for staff and students. This is tied directly to attrition. In turn, it influences graduation rates, revenue, re-enrollment, and employee turnover. Anyone who has worked in Higher Education has experienced many of the challenges mentioned here.
It would be a pleasure to speak with you further. My experience spans over 25 years of Accounts Receivable Senior Management, 18 years in Higher Education and I am the author of Top 10 Billing Secrets a comprehensive guide to better billing and higher revenue.