Every point of contact that a prospective student has with an institution shapes their impression. An email or conversation can make the difference between a submitted application or a missed opportunity. That’s why successful student recruitment depends on a talented enrollment team.
AllCampus has prioritized its enrollment team from the very beginning. Early on, advisors came from other higher education recruitment positions and so they were able to translate their previous experience into their approach at AllCampus. As the company grew and the demand for online education increased, AllCampus wanted to bring in new advisors who showed excellent customer service potential but who may not have a background in higher-ed recruiting.
With this in mind, the enrollment team overhauled the onboarding process to ensure that they would be able to train new advisors in a timely manner that met the needs of university partners while adhering to industry standards.
The result was a formalized “pleasant and proactive” recruiting approach led by dedicated training coordinators. This included a 30-60-90 timeline that allowed a new hire to take calls within two weeks, while managers could continue training with built-in quality assurance checkpoints.
Walk around the enrollment offices at AllCampus and you’ll immediately notice them: mugs, banners, the occasional stuffed mascot. School emblems hang from walls and logoed water bottles share space with keyboards.
You might assume that these are the desks of alumni, but these are the workspaces of our enrollment advisors. They consider themselves an extension of the schools they represent and are proud to support the universities that partner with AllCampus.
This team of highly skilled advisors is critical to AllCampus’s focus on exceptional recruitment, enrollment, and retention services. The team has a longstanding history of exceeding expectations because they share their schools’ goals of attracting high-caliber students who will thrive.
How does AllCampus continually foster a strong enrollment team? First, they hire people who have a talent for making connections and who embody the company’s core values.
Second, they take the time to thoughtfully train new advisors. This is not a place where new hires are handed a headset and a binder of scripts; AllCampus uses a formalized, tested and proven approach. Advisors are trained in a service-based, consultative process. They can evaluate a student’s fit with a program and nurture the student’s understanding of why that college or university is the best opportunity.
Finally, our advisors prioritize their relationship with their partner university. They are in direct contact with the schools’ enrollment teams and sit in on bi-weekly updates. This allows AllCampus advisors to know their partner programs inside and out. They understand what makes the program distinctive and what will make applicants successful.
The result is more satisfaction from students and stakeholders, more completions and ultimately stronger programs that enhance the universities’ reputations.
This case study focuses on that second point: making new advisor training a top priority, even as the team and the company expand.
Demand for online education was on the rise even before COVID-19 led to 65% of all institutions moving to fully online or hybrid models in 2020 (NCSL). Since 2017, graduate enrollment increased by 134,000 in fully online programs and by 26,000 in partly online programs. At the same time, residential programs saw their enrollment decrease by 87,000 (IPEDS).
The accelerating interest in graduate online education is reflected by growth at AllCampus and its partners:
- The enrollment division grew 48% between 2019 to 2021.
- AllCampus saw a 39% increase in students serviced between 2019 and 2021.
This led to the challenge: How do we scale on-boarding in a way that ensures that new advisors
- ramp up in a timely manner,
- meet the needs of university partners,
- adhere to industry standards,
- and embody AllCampus’s core values?
The enrollment team needed an approach that would help any new advisor learn the ins and outs of the role, but that wouldn’t overload them with too much information at once.
The enrollment team dug into the on-boarding process. They evaluated every step based on the criteria above. The result was a intensive on-boarding plan that relied on three key components:
- The AMPED approach: A unique, proprietary approach to recruitment that prioritizes what the school can do for the student, not what the student can do for the school.
- Three-stage timeline: New hires move through three gateways, starting with intensive training, moving to mentor-led check-ins and continuing with ongoing professional development.
- Dedicated trainers: In addition to enrollment advisors and enrollment managers, the team includes training coordinators who administer the on-boarding process.
“As a growing team, it has become increasingly important for us to onboard new advisors quickly but thoroughly,” explained Sara Nolte, AllCampus’s EVP of enrollment management and student services. “The introduction of AMPED, the three-staged training approach, and the addition of the training team have allowed us to do this while maintaining the high level of service that our partners and prospective students have come to expect from the AllCampus enrollment team.”
The New Advisor Journey
Elaine Van Buskirk was hired as an enrollment advisor in 2020. While she hadn’t worked in higher education enrollment directly, Lain spent more than nine years working in senior living, where she honed her customer service and conversational skills, all while staying within state regulations. She had transferable skills but knew she would need guidance at this new company and industry.
“The amount of thought that went into the training process is incredible,” Lain said. “It’s really well planned. I completed the training with all the tools I needed.”
Phase 1: Learn the Ropes, Learn the Approach
Lain will work with Pace University, a nationally ranked institution that emphasizes transformative education for diverse students. Pace partners with AllCampus on more than 20 undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs.
From day one, Lain built her understanding of both Pace’s programs and AllCampus’s systems. She entered three weeks of intensive — but supportive — onboarding. Every day of training was planned out ahead of time.
“The structure was so welcoming,” Lain said. “I was never left to my own devices and told ‘just figure it out.’ There was always someone helping me throughout the process. It felt like a well-oiled machine.”
Over these weeks, she was immersed in AllCampus’s AMPED recruitment strategy, which emphasizes a pleasant and proactive approach. She learned how to overcome prospective students’ objections without pushing them into a program where they won’t succeed.
Throughout, Lain’s trainer emphasizes that contact with prospective students should be about having conversations, not making sales pitches or checking boxes. When a prospective student requests information for a specific program, advisors do their best to reach out without hounding them.
Phase 2: Practice in a Low-Stakes Environment
Once Lain had a strong grasp on the process, she worked through role plays that tied the student engagement processes together. These let her practice asking open-ended questions, selling the benefits of a program and handling concerns, all while honing his closing tactics.
Lain also sat in on real calls with prospective students. She likes that each advisor has their own style. “It’s okay to have our own personality,” Lain said. “The advisors all follow the AMPED approach but we don’t have to read from a script. We can do what works best for us and for the person we’re talking to.”
Phase 3: Partner Matching and Mentor-Supported Calls
After three weeks, Lain is familiar with the AllCampus process, understands the program and systems the team uses, and is compliant in FERPA and FA. She is ready to get started.
Every week, Lain logs on and sends emails to her partners at Pace, checking in on any updates or requests from the Pace admissions team. “I’m their teammate,” she explained. “I try to be conversational and personal. I’m always telling them: I’m here to get these students enrolled. Let’s talk about what we can do to make that happen.”
“Even though we work for different companies, we have the same goals.”
After Training: A Continuing Partnership
This isn’t the end of the training process. She gets feedback during check-ins at 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days. After the three-month mark, Lain is connected with a mentor who can offer support and advice as she settles into her role. This senior enrollment advisor also ensures that she continues to be an excellent representative of Pace.
Even with the addition of 15 new advisors from spring of 2020 to fall of 2021, results have remained strong: AllCampus generated 74% more applications in Q1 2021 vs Q1 2020.
The employee retention rate of the enrollment division is exceptionally high. This means that partners have consistency in their representation as most advisors stay with their programs for years.
Training That Serves Our Partners
This in-depth training process gives our partners the assurance that:
- The enrollment team serves as a true extension of their college or university.
- Potential students are supported every step of the way, retaining and building their positive impression of the school.
- Accepted students are high caliber and more likely to complete their certificate or degree.
- The work of the enrollment team will complement the efforts of other AllCampus teams, ensuring a cohesive program management experience.
When prospects assume they are talking with a program representative, it’s the ideal outcome—the AllCampus advisors pride themselves on being authentic representatives of their school. They’re not just working on behalf of the school, they’re fans and advocates as well.
Training That Serves Our Students
Beyond stats, a sign of success is the satisfaction reported by students.
“One of the best parts of this work is when students come back and say ‘thank you’,” David said. “It’s an incredible feeling that we are making a difference in people’s careers.”
“I love being able to coach someone through a life-changing decision in their life. If they’re overwhelmed, I’m here to guide them.” Lain said. “Working in higher education with people who are at a turning point in their career — that fills my cup. You’re helping people towards something that’s going to be a positive step forward.”
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