Monthly Archives: August 2011

August 10, 2011

Go Green & Get Rich with Paperless Admissions

What is the most talked about liquid that is constantly complained about because of its’ price?  Yep, that’s right – gasoline.  Looking at the current $3.70 per gallon in Pittsburgh, that price is sky high compared to 5-10 years ago. By roughly breaking that $4 down, the price per an ounce of gas comes out to right around three cents.  How expensive is it compared to other popular liquids in the United States?  Let’s see how gasoline measures against expensive perfume, Chanel No. 5 and some run of the mill, black printer ink.

Go green with paperless admissions

Can you believe that you would actually save money by inserting luxurious perfume, over an ink cartridge, into your printer?  It is easy to see how a school’s printing expenses can add up quickly. Paperless admissions can save schools quite a small fortune for them.

Precisely how much money goes into printing?  Let’s talk numbers.

The average employee uses 10,000 sheets a year which ends up being about $600-$1,300 for every employee.

Printer ink is a whopping $88 an ounce, which comes out to approximately $11,264 a gallon.

17% percent of what is printed is considered waste, like banners or links at the bottom of pages.

The mismanagement of copiers, printers, and fax machines can cost anywhere between 1-3% of revenue annually.

One to three… That’s not bad right?  Take into consideration the key statistics I read on Finance Yahoo; head honcho companies like Google, Toyota, and Target had 2010 advertising budgets that were less than 3% of their annual revenues. I would say it is that bad.

So, how are you going to save money?
Is it possible to cut printing entirely?  Hmm… maybe, but unlikely.  There are easier ways to save money without cutting printing off completely. Here are seven examples of what schools can do to start see the money rolling in.

#1. Double-sided printing- This will cut back on the amount of printing by roughly 50% if printer settings are switched from single-sided to duplex.

#2. Print e-mails & website information only when necessary- If the e-mail or website can be forwarded before a meeting instead of printed, then save the extra effort and paper by just shooting them a quick e-mail attachment.

#3. Utilize the printer-friendly button- If it absolutely needs to be printed, look for a printer friendly button.  Many websites and e-mail servers have printer friendly buttons to remove advertisements and unnecessary text so that only the needed content and images are printed.

#4. Consider the return on investment in energy efficient technology- Energy efficient printers, fax machines, etc. use a lot less energy than the clunky, loud one that is probably sitting in your office right now.  Energy efficient machines are usually more expensive at first, but they use three times less electricity.  The money saved from electricity in the long run will outweigh the immediate cost.

#5. Send out student pamphlets through e-mail – Any pamphlets or brochures used to send information to the students could be sent electronically, instead of through postal mail.  It is significantly cheaper, and many self-service provider companies charge less than a cent for every e-mail.  In addition, many students check their e-mail frequently, especially with the convenience and popularity of smart phones.

#6. Embrace social media sites- If reminders are needed for upcoming events, try communicating with students through Facebook and Twitter.  It is much quicker and cheaper than designing a postcard to send out weeks beforehand.  Social media can facilitate communication easily and frequently to applicants, current students, and alumni.

#7. Switch admissions to a paperless application system- How many paper applications are still sent out or wasted during student visits?  Switching over to an entirely paperless admissions system can increase return on investment and save money, in just printing costs alone. It is extremely convenient to have all the applicants and their information in one place, so you can stay organized.  Here at ZAP, we have an excellent AMP system that manages the entire admissions system from the applications and integrated AMCAS results to the interview scheduling.

Keep these seven tips handy around the admissions office.  It is easy to feel good about going green with paperless admissions, especially while you are saving money too!

Click here to find out more information about how to reduce printing costs.

August 9, 2011

The 3 Keys to Interview Scheduling

Synchronizing schedules can be more than confusing when agendas continue to change and appointments keep popping up all over the calendar.  Interview scheduling can be frustrating and stressful, but there is a way around this: Communication, organization, & time management. Together, they will welcome you to a much simpler world.

Communication. Without communication, you will likely get lost when it comes to scheduling applicant interviews.  The first step is talking to the staff administering the interviews about their schedules compatibility.  Ask for a list of all available dates and times, and remind them to let you know in advance if something switches.  Instant Messenger, e-mail, and a synced calendar are key communication tools when it comes to sending reminders and updates to the admissions interview team and applicants.  There are available synced calendars on Google, Doodle, and Microsoft Outlook, where you can set reminders before appointments so you and everyone else will be on time.  If you are going to use a synced calendar, set a day each week to check the calendar for updates and new appointments, so you are prepared for the following weeks schedule.

Organization.  Stay organized by maintaining up-to-date calendars and planners with additional room for notes.  Instead of scribbling down a note every time you get a change in an appointment, you should keep it all in one place.  If you prefer writing, carry a planner with you.  If you prefer the computer, use an interactive calendar and remember to share it with all of the staff.

Time management. It may not be the most important of the three for scheduling applicant interviews but it still should be considered.  When scheduling interviews, make sure to give leeway time for both the applicant and staff in case either of them runs into an emergency where they are a few minutes late.  Expect the interview to run five or ten minutes long, because if it does happen to run shorter, then it will allow staff to have more time to prepare their questions for the next applicant coming in.  The staff member should also write down chart notes during the interview to keep thoughts and opinions clear for further documentation later.

Another way to keep interview scheduling stress-free and simple is to use ZAP’s interview scheduling module.  It has its own built-in dynamic calendar, which empowers staff to enter available free times and then applicants can self schedule themselves.  The interviewers can rank and write comments about the applicant in the system after the interview.  An interview scheduling module can improve your admissions process.

Mobile Apps or Mobile Websites

The much debated argument about the mobile apps or mobile websites continues. With the increase in mobile device software, it becomes more and more essential for colleges to have a mobile resource for students.  Studies show that 65% of students had a raised interest in going to a college after they have had a positive web experience with their school.

I don’t think I need to convince you to create a mobile resource, because statistics of the on-the-go technology trend does the persuasion for me.  Which one you should create is the real question.  Both the application and mobile website are used as tools for colleges to simplify information shown on a website.  If a student is trying to find the phone number for the admissions office, they are not going to want to read the dean’s welcome speech every time they get on the schools’ mobile resource.  By showing the most important sections of their websites, it makes it easier for users to get the information they need.  They both have the ability to show text and images, and access features like video, click to call, and location-based mapping.  Then why does it matter which one colleges use?  Here are some major differences to help you decide which one is more effective for your college.

mobile apps or mobile websites

For example, here are two different mobile tools used to display information from the University of Pittsburgh.

The first one on the left is from their mobile website (m.pitt.edu), which shows the most frequently used information on their website.  From there you are able to view dining menus, shuttle schedules, the latest Pitt news, and even sync your Google calendar.  The one on the right is also made for the University of Pittsburgh, but it is an application.  This ‘Angry Panthers’ application is fun and engaging.  It plays the Pittsburgh Panther growl and shows next season’s upcoming basketball and football schedule.  The main difference between these two is interaction.

If you are simply presenting information, there is no need to pay for expensive apps to show this. You can even do a rough test of what your website would look like as a mobile website by using Dudamobile, Google Sites, Webs, or various other free mobile website builder websites.  However, if you want the user to be able to do more absorbing activities, like uploading pictures, playing games, and looking at real time integrated information (i.e. Twitter), then an app may be better suited for your college.

For more on the recent trend in mobile sources for higher education, view statistics from the Higher Education Experts.

August 8, 2011

How Important is Social Media?

Do you think an increase in a college’s social media activity will affect the quantity or quality of students applying to the school?  I think everyone can at least agree that having an active social media account whether it is a blog, Facebook, or Twitter can help strengthen connections with prospective applicants by giving them an improved, more realistic view of the school.

The school website will have informative material about the school departments and teachers, but what is that really telling the prospective students about the school?  Facebook and Twitter will show genuine, unique information with real pictures of experiences and events that happen.  It allows the students to see how the school truly is, from the living situation in the dorm rooms to the taste of the food in the eating halls.  Applicants can see pictures and personalities of current students that have been through the same experiences.  It is a great way to hear about cool places to eat and hangout, neat hole-in-the-wall dive bars, the best places to study, and the cheapest happy hours.  With social media, it has never been easier for applicants to make friends and develop expectations of the school.

Social media is a brilliant way to stay connected for students and the school, but how do college’s persuade students to want to come back to their social media page?  One of the most agreed upon challenges for social media sites is keeping the content new and refreshing.  Making the students think the webpage is inviting is another big challenge that colleges are quick to forget. Try to make it a place where students can connect and ask questions with each other.  Encourage students to make specific groups to increase interests and associations, like “University of Pittsburgh’s Class of 2012” or “Holland Hall Floor 6”.  The more that the students know about the school, the easier it will be for them to connect, which will inevitably make them a better fit over someone else.  So keep updating your social media and be as real and authentic as possible.  The students will appreciate it, and the admissions office will too when there is an increase in the quantity and quality of applicants that are definite fits.

To learn more about social media in higher education, please visit this blog and click the PDF for recent findings from April.

The Best Student Mobile Apps

Located on The Daily Beast are the 14 best mobile apps for college students.  This is something that you may want to pass along to applicants or students on your admissions blog before the quickly approaching school year begins.  Students love being the first to know about new technology.  Really win them over with this list of fourteen best student mobile apps.  For an extended ‘best’ apps list, here is a list of the top 100 free mobile apps.

Keep in mind that more is not always better. Too many apps can stress you out by keeping your best resources hidden.  It is easy to get caught up and cluttered with applications, so go though apps with similar purposes and see if you really need them. Stick to as few, useful applications as you can, and kick the rest of them to the cyber curb.

August 6, 2011

The Dean of Admissions Job Description

Deans of admissions sift though student’s applications, conduct interviews, and find the best matches for their college.  Does this statement describe the deans of today or the past?  In an article in The Chronicle with John Christensen, the director of admissions at St. John’s College, he states,There seems to be a generation of us who think it is time to go, sensing that the world of admissions is undergoing a sea change.”

Christensen discusses changes to the dean’s position that include the popular topics, financial aid and social media.  Within the past decade, there has been an increasing demand for more financial aid.  Financial aid is a huge priority for the Deans of Admissions because without it, they may lose interested applicants.  In order to keep the application yield up and the sky rocketing tuition rates down, deans try to fight for more financial aid to help students ability to go to college that could not without economic assistance.

Not only is the rising financial aid pressure new  for admissions but so is the explosion of social media.  I looked back at an article in The Chronicle from 1994 where Andrew Roth, Dean of Enrollment at Mercyhurst College, discusses how deans deal with promotion and recruitment.  He says, “There are only four variables that influence enrollment yields: academic reputation (program), cost (price), location (place), and promotion (recruitment). Unless the admissions person is deeply involved in campus planning, there is little or nothing he or she can do to influence the first three variables.”  He goes onto describe that, “Promotion (recruitment) explains the proliferation of four-color viewbooks, videos, etc.”  I am afraid that four-color books and videos are a thing of the past, and social media is of the present when it comes to promotion.

Social media doesn’t just include Facebook anymore; there is Linked In, Twitter, and blogs that admission teams must use to reach their target markets.  Most students spend a large portion of their time on social media sites, which is why it has become a necessity for deans to establish and uphold a social media presence for their admissions office.  They have to keep their social media sites new and refreshing with information to influence applicants and students to spend more time on their page.  Not only should the sites be updated, but they must feel inviting, informative, and fresh to students and alumni.  Christensen exclaims, “…Many of us feel that we are now managers of media campaigns and do not have time for the work we enjoy.”

With all of these added changes, it seems to be taking over a large part of the admissions job.  Eric Hoover, senior writer on admissions from The Chronicle, sums it up nicely stating, “A profession that once relied on anecdotes and descriptive data now runs on complex statistical analyses and market research. Knowing how to decipher enrollment outcomes is a given; knowing how to forecast the future is a must.”