Debby Murphy & Janice Crampton answer audience questions on this first installment of Ask AISAP! Should your school provide military discounts? What's the best way to project enrollment given the uncertainty of the past two years?
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When you're tossing and turning day after day, wondering how to do things the right way, when it suddenly hits you. The answer's so clear. Just reach out to those who will lend you an ear. Ask AISAP!
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So, Debby, what I'd love to do now is take advantage of not only your expertise and your knowledge, but also introduce what we have talked about in some of our own publications and notices. And that's this new opportunity for us to incorporate Ask AISAP. There are a couple of questions that have come forward, and I'd love to just lob them out to to you, but also you and I can maybe provide a little bit of that answer for those that, again, have this on their minds.
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And this is not necessarily in order of importance. It is truly what has come in to the old ask@AISAP.org inbox. The first one is around military discounts. Now, you might say what? But the question really leads into another question. So the specific question was do schools offer military discounts to enrolling students whose mom and dad are in the military. Do we offer a discount?
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What I would like to just not only poses the question, which is the one I just asked, but also immediately jump in and provide an answer is yes, no, maybe so. But the bigger question I'd love for us to talk about is just discounting in general. And I don't mean that tuition revenue discounting, but that idea around sibling discounts or alumni discounts or, you know, from a particular zip code discount.
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What's your opinion, what's your expertise, what's your trend setting and response to this discount concept?
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Yeah, I mean, I would say yes, if it is directly connected to an institutional priority and value. So in other words, use that as an enrollment tool that discount whatever it may be to attract and enroll that subset of your school. If family and having siblings at the school is a top, top, top value, then offer a sibling discount.
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You know, if community, family and again, use that as a way to show and tout in ways that that is something that's really important to your school. If military families first of all, if you have a portion or a large portion of military families, if you live in an area and you're looking for a way to break into that community, yes.
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Have a military discount or call it a military scholarship to encourage families or children of military families to apply to your school or inquire to your school so I don't mean to sound quite so opportunistic with this, but I do believe it needs to be looked at through a bit of a lens of opportunity. If it is something that you're looking to build more of and something that your school really values.
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And you could argue that the military families are typically families that fall into a certain income range as well. So if you're looking to build your middle class or upper middle class or however that may fall that would be a great strategy and a helpful strategy, again, if you are in a military area. So I know that was a really long winded way of saying, yes, if it serves the school well and your enrollment well and and obviously is aligned with your values and your priorities.
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And I think, Debby, that this is a great example of what we were talking about earlier. There are institutional priorities that are set by the board of directors that are part of an institution strategic plan and in that there is this, dare I call it, trickle down effect of that becomes a priority for your role and responsibility again, job to see that in fact reached or obtained as a goal.
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So if in fact that is your institutional priority, you know that you need to state it and then begin to imagine how you're going to achieve that. So those become not just your goals and objectives, but again, the plan towards it. I think what I'd like to suggest as it then relates to the answer of this, do you offer military discounts when what we're saying is this discount is that you need to also turn to data and you need to be forward thinking.
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What does it do to your institution again, good, bad or indifferent? No judgment here if all of the sudden you're finding that you're offering this sibling discount alumni discount, military discount, zip code discount, only to find that you can't meet your budget, right? Because the next thing you know, you have so many discounts that you can't. So that's that projection of data that is critically important for that individual to imagine as you then are putting that into place.
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Yeah, totally agreed.
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Yeah. The other thing I think it's critically important for us to say at this particular juncture of our time together is legal counsel. Each state and region and again, using the term zip code have rules and regulations, have guidelines. And you must not just take the opinion that is being expressed in this discussion as well AISAP said, because that's the disclaimer, you must go back to your own legal counsel and see if in fact it works so again, thanks for that question.
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Once again, firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep them coming. Let's try one more and again, not necessarily try one more, but let's offer one more. And then again, I think that we have set the stage for the opportunity for us to ring in this new year and get things going. The next question that I see in our inbox is related to projections of enrollment and how we might suggest the best way.
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Now, I think it would be ill advised for us in the venue that we're in right now called the podcast for you to start doing the Air Excel spreadsheet. But are there best practices, Debby? Are there suggestions whether people can find it in our own tools and resources? Or if you're imagining some of our upcoming education or, you know, again, might offer a suggestion.
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But the question is how do I begin to project enrollment? How am I going to project enrollment knowing the mecurial and uncertainty of the past?
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Yeah, thanks for for adding that, because I was going to say there's really two answers to that question. The "How am I begin to project enrollment?" is one answer. "How am I going to begin to project enrollment now that we've got two years of uncertain COVID data and unpredictable data kind of muddying, if you want to call it that, muddying our our water
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as we look at the last three to five years of of enrollment data?" there's going to be some real blips in the data because of because of that so in many ways, this is like the million dollar question. And this is what I think enrollment offices are talking about, being challenged by actually appreciating the time with other like minded professionals to noodle over this and kind of solve this problem, solve this.
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I don't think there's a one shot solution, obviously, you know, just as a best practice to be sure you are pulling and looking at and I would push it beyond three years now if you have five years of data because of COVID being in there.But five years of data and how to get a little bit of a, you know, almost like an endowment report where you're using that blended average or that trailing average.
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You do, you can get some pretty interesting numbers and projections set based upon looking at obviously all the key data points, applications, admits, enrollments, yield and see where that falls first before you start to to set out in your planning. I really think the best that the sort of like masters in the field at that projections piece use the data, track the data, crunched the numbers, calculate the data and then you basically have to take those numbers and say, "and what is our gut telling us?" and a little bit of the of the sort of rounding out the numbers you know the
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like plus to minus to many schools are very sophisticated at the more you can in building those projections for some schools they actually you know, well we'll do it by grade level so that you're not just doing an overarching projection and averages for some schools. They break it out by gender because they'll see different activity and know that one year they had a really hard time attracting, you know, ninth grade girls and they need to be more aggressive with that approach.
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So I encourage schools to do that and not just do their overarching you know, admit rate and yield and application numbers, but to be as granular as they possibly can by grade level, by gender, if that's something at your school so that you can be that much more strategic in your planning and and in your tracking.
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But it's not perfect. I think most importantly, back to the conversation at the beginning, set numbers out there, built out what these projections may look like and then adapt as you go. If you find that, you know, three months from now, it's not looking the way you wanted it to look in a certain area adjust and don't just wait till the spring to say we set out to get 70 students and suddenly I'm seeing that we're not going to get there.
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It's your responsibility as an enrollment director and mission director to keep your office and the board abreast of these things maybe not weekly but certainly monthly and if you're seeing a downward trend it demands your attention and your reporting out to say not only we are experiencing a downward trend we're seeing a downward trend and here's what we're going to do about it.
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That's exactly right.
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Solution orientation. Solution orientation.
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