Creating a Positive Connection between Admissions, Faculty and Staff

Creating a Positive Connection between Admissions, Faculty and Staff





Intro: Setting the Pace with Tribeca with Richard McCulloch and Dr. Joe Pace

Richard McCulloch: Hi. Welcome to Setting the Pace with Tribeca. I’m Richard McCulloch, Vice President of Marketing and Admissions Consulting and I’m very honored to have next to me, Dr. Joe Pace. He’s a performance psychologist. He’s also been the chairman of the Pacific Institute Education Initiative and he’s been working in this career education sector for almost 50 years. So welcome Dr. Joe, thank you.

Dr. Joe Pace: Pleasure to be here with you.  

RM: Yeah so why are we doing this? Tribeca is a student-focused marketing company and Pacific Institute and Dr. Pace are valued members of our higher education sector and we thought it would be a good opportunity to have some conversation. Some chats about best practices. Things that schools should all be thinking about because at the end of the day, that’s us as marketers. We realize that, great outcome for students is the best marketing strategy that you can have. What do you think about that?

Dr. JP: Yeah. I think what I like about our alliance and partnership is that Tribeca very student focused, student oriented. Well the programs that I created at the Pacific Institute are all about students and all about their well-being and the psychological aspects of what keep students in school, what keeps them persisting what gives them grit, and it’s a beautiful type thing because your marketing admissions dovetails right into what we do in our classrooms with our programs, our orientations, training of faculty. So, it’s basically the same philosophy.

RM: At the end of the day, we also want people to understand that we want to look at higher education in its most holistic form. It’s one thing to get students into your school. We want to know the best ways to keep them in your school. Keep them engaged, and have great outcomes in terms of placement and all the other KPIs that our institutions are looking at to measure their outcomes. And I think there’s going to be some great things shared throughout this series. Dr. Pace when you look at your background, and you look at today’s higher education, especially the career higher education sector. What are some of the things that you think are very important for us to address long term?

Dr. JP: Yes. I think the big thing is many of our students in our career colleges are first-generation going to college. And they may have the intelligence but they may not have the right habits, the right attitudes, the right beliefs, the right expectations, and maybe not have enough self-esteem. And this curriculum coupled with what you do in marketing and admissions, leads to that and the students begin to feel a sense of confidence that they can do it. We also trained all the faculty and staff so everybody’s on the same page.

RM: Absolutely and you’ll hear a lot of us talking about that continuum of how we treat students. A lot of times in schools they get a lot of love, a lot of attention, when they’re going through the admissions process. But somehow that is not necessarily followed all the way through the continuum of a student journey. I can know how to speak for Dr. Pace. We look forward to these conversations that will be happening with you, and please continue to watch Setting the Pace with Tribeca.

Dr. JP: Yeah I’m excited about doing this and working together with you and Tribeca because I think we have a seamless fit that can help students persist. from beginning to end. I know a student retention which is what I’ve been doing on my life starts in admissions and starts in marketing.

RM: Yeah. Yep and I think we can bring more of that to the table with our clients and even just other people out there that are working in higher education. We can make higher education a better value proposition for all the students involved.

Dr. JP: I think it’s a new day in our sector.

RM: Yes sir. Thank you.

Episode 2: Why is it Necessary to Create a Positive Connection Between Admissions, Faculty and Staff

Richard McCulloch: So today we’re talking about creating a positive connection between admissions, faculty and staff. I have to say that this is something, having been in the industry for over 20 years in various roles, including admissions, it was always something that I thought was important. Some schools are better at it than others in terms of creating that positive connection, but when I was first chatting about this with Dr. Pace. He came up with an analogy that I really think that all of you should hear. I think it’s a really vivid way of understanding how important this is.

Dr. Joe Pace: Being a psychologist, one of the things we know as a concept is that human beings think in pictures. And those pictures come from, many times if we don’t have pictures, they come from words. And then there’s the emotion that causes people to want to stay at school or to get motivated. So, it’s all about the picture. And if we don’t have the right picture going on between marketing, admissions, orientation, faculty, staff. There’s a disconnect. So, the students have a picture that’s painted by the marketing team. Then the admissions folks go on and paint the picture for them. Then what happens is they go to the financial aid, and then usually they enroll and we go to orientation and into a classroom. Now my thing that I’ve found over the years is many times the faculty have no clue what admissions is tell them. So, they have no idea of the picture. Whether they’re just coming to school to major in medical assistance. Okay that’s fine but why are they doing that? What is their picture? Many times, they’ll say it’s my three-year-old daughter. I want a better life for my daughter. Now those are decisive thoughts that if every employee was on the same page with, at least understanding, and everybody then would come together, and become seamless. When that happens, they just play into the students’ picture and the student will persist. Most students who drop, they drop in the first three weeks to three months because the pictures don’t match, but no one knows that. It’s not what they thought it was going to be. Maybe because faculty or staff had no clue what admission has told.

RM: Absolutely right and I think if we’re going to take it to marketing term. it’s all about brand consistency. whatever we’re communicating as this is your brand, is your value proposition as a higher education institution. What we have to ensure is that from the time they walk through that front door, that picture of that continuum of imagery is being realized within the academy. Within the campus level. Do you see that as being something that is fixable, if it doesn’t exist all?

Dr. JP: I think the first step is that faculty, especially faculty, because faculty are right there, like the Marines, there right in their front line with these students. That they really need to know what’s said in the marketing materials. And what admissions tells them, whether they have a checklist or whatever. most cases I find that the faculty and staff are really impressed with what they see. now if they don’t know what they’re saying, how can they be delivering? They might be delivering a course in billing and coding, but the point is they’re losing the vision. And students drop once they lose the vision or the picture. And the idea of bringing everybody together on the same page, at least in concept, is I think it’s just critically. And you’ll begin to see improvement in student retention 2% here, 3%, 4% and it just continues because everybody’s on the same page.

RM: And it just goes to show marketing and admissions cannot live within a vacuum that devoid of any connection with the rest of the departments, financial aid, education, orientation.

Dr. JP: That’s right. Passing the baton. I think student retention starts in marketing and admissions and then follows through. So there’s has to be that marriage there and it’s easy to do. You get everybody to replace their pictures or to create the same picture and it’s pretty simple, what the students are looking for. And it works.

RM: So let’s play some consistent pictures. I guess is what the lesson is.

Episode 3: Best Practices in Creating a Positive Connection Between Admissions, Faculty and Staff

Richard McCulloch: We’ve been talking about creating a positive connection between admissions, faculty and staff in higher education settings. And having the background with admissions. It’s been very important to do as you said in the previous segment, about painting a picture and I remember when you talked about that is that it starts right at the beginning. That it starts with marketing because the perception of what’s going to happen at that school or on those campuses. It’s going to start with the marketing messaging and then be reiterated by the admissions team. When you think about how the admissions team presents to a potential student. What can schools do to make sure that what that admissions representative is saying is actually going to be realized in the classroom?

Dr. Joe Pace: One of the things I’d recommend is that you get the staff, including faculty and admissions, together for a meeting. During that meeting you show them the different marketing pieces that are used. You show them the questionnaire, if you have one, or what admissions actually says to the student. And as they’re hearing that they’re going to immediately say, “Well this is really great”. Usually they’re very impressed when they hear it. Because it’s setting your best foot forward. Having said that sometimes the faculty may say, “Well we really don’t do that. we don’t really teach that in the classroom.” So, then what has to happen, is that there has to be discussion. “Well, why not?” And you have to change the picture for them. In other words, either the faculty starts doing it or the admissions and marketing has to change it, because that’s number one reason students drop out of school in the first three weeks to three months, is the pictures aren’t matching. What they thought they were going to get isn’t happening. And even though they have a vision of a better life for the child or for themselves, there’s a disconnect there. It usually lasts between three weeks and three months and there’s a psychological reason for that. To change a habit, an attitude, a belief or an expectation, that takes a minimum of three weeks to three months. To go back to the old way, to current reality, is about the same. It’s in that same time period, psychologically, if everybody is not trying their best to paint the picture, there’s a disconnect. The time that’s being passed drops.

RM: From the marketing perspective, and this is a technique that I think, and based on what you just said, I think it can be better utilized within your campus dynamic. That’s focus groups and surveys. Because I think that sometimes if you can get everyone on your team, in a room, do a focus group. I think that could be a very effective way of seeing where the pictures are not aligning. And getting an understanding because, what I’ve noticed even with students. What you think is happening, when we do the focus group and surveys, may not match what’s really happening.

Dr. JP: Another thing, I think a blessing and sometimes a curse because I love adjunct faculty, but sometimes the faculty member teaches at four or five other schools. Comes in and teaches the class and goes home. Really is not concerned or doesn’t understand the culture, if you will, of a true career college that’s focused on student retention. So, well I’m just going to teach my medical class and go home. I’m going to teach this and go home. I’m going to do my financial aid and go home. I’m going to do career services and go home. Meaning that they’re just focused on their job and their department and not the whole student picture. I call what this culture is having an intelligent heart. In other words, especially for faculty, they have to have the IQ intelligence, but the heart is what it’s all about. I’ve learned in 40 something, almost fifty years of studying retention. It’s all about the heart and that means that it’s the caring, the feeling people get giving the student. That you should give the students of caring that keeps them in the school. Their academics comes, you lead with the heart and then follow with the mind. Now not everybody subscribes to that. Now those who don’t, they probably are not involved in the culture of an intelligent heart.

RM: Part of the intelligent heart, if you think about it, is being concerned, invested enough in your institution to make sure that as a member of this continuum of education, that the pictures are matching all the way across.

Dr. JP: You’re always bringing new faculty and staff in. New students are coming in. So, it’s what we call it CQI, Continuous Quality Improvement. It never ends. You keep working and making it better each time.

Episode 4: Expected Outcomes From the Institution When Creating a Positive Connection Between Admissions, Faculty and Staff.

Richard McCulloch: If you’ve been watching us. We’ve been talking about how we create positive connections between the admissions team, faculty and staff within an institution of higher learning, and we’ve been talking a lot about painting a picture that’s consistent throughout the whole academic journey of your students and passing the baton from department to department as you go through it. So now we talked about the why you should have this. Dr. Pace, what do you think are the real benefits to the institutions that take this seriously and start to really working on making those pictures match?

Dr. Joe Pace: Well the first thing that happens, is culture is created of people working together, student focused. I always, for years, use the term intelligent heart because words trigger pictures in your mind. So, to be intelligent heart is what every employee, I think, should have to be because a lot of ways were like caregivers. I mean, we get students who are first generation going to college and schools. And they’re smart enough, that they’re good enough, but maybe they just don’t have the right habits yet, and so if every employee sees themselves as someone who has that intelligent heart and helps. A culture is created. A bonding of teamwork. High-fives and everything else. But the students feel that immediately. They know that everyone is pretty much on the same page and has their best interests at heart. So, the idea that is, how do we this kind of thing? Well first of all, it’s just the general education what this information is about. How it works and it’s kind of like mom and apple pie common sense. I mean, career colleges are already do it, I think, better than any inner sector of higher ed. But if you just amplify it several times with the caring plus working together. Everybody understanding what admissions does and understanding what faculty does. Creating that culture. Students won’t drop. The idea is that no one drops out in this school. If you tackle them at the door.

RM: Because that becomes your culture.

Dr. JP: That’s right.

RM: And interestingly enough, one of the things that I’ve seen that’s been beneficial, I go on campuses and helping admissions teams because as a marketing agency. There’s one thing for us to get the student interest, but we really want to see our client admissions teams do well. And a way that I see that faculty and staff can interact better with admissions for the benefit of the institution, is what I call product understanding versus product knowledge. Oftentimes and even back when I first started admissions, when you train the admissions representative. You give them a catalog. Here all the courses and this is what’s going be included in the program and that’s kind of how they learn. They make a tour with a program director, but it’s important that they really get to understand what each program is. So, they’re doing that accurate pictorial representation that can actually be represented. Where else do you see opportunities for them to the pass the baton effectively? Does orientation? Is that a good place?

Dr. JP: A big place is student orientation. Because, if you think about it for a minute, they see marketing. They go into admissions. They go find financial aid. They register. They come to school. So, then we have an orientation and I can tell you, with all due respect, most orientations are terrible. Most orientations, they hand out the “thou shalt not list.”

RM: Yup. The do not do. The do not do.

Dr. JP: Really it should be a continuation of the vision. Of what admissions told them. Of what marketing told them. I used to be the president and an owner of several schools in South Florida. I gave the orientation. I stood up with all the advertising pieces and held them up and I said, “How many of you saw this? How many saw the TV commercial? How many?” I would tell them, “I am here with my staff to make sure that it come to fluidness, that it happens. If it doesn’t, come and see me.” What will happen, you’ll see. Just by that mindset. Anywhere from five to eight to ten percent improvement. Getting those students from the first term to the second term, more likely to drop out. I’ve also created a student program, where they are on the videos. So, they’re learning the concepts while we train the teachers to deliver the concepts and then we train the faculty and staff. It’s like a two-track system that just locks in everybody being on the same page.

RM: Just to go back to the orientation part, and I think you’re so right. And for all of us that are in this industry. If you know the admissions teams are always the happy, positive, optimistic, painting the best picture possible and then all of a sudden you go to orientation. Now you’re being said, you can’t do this, you better not do that, you can’t. So that’s just within the admissions process to orientation, before stepping into the first class. The picture is already skewed.  

Dr. JP: You already got one or two strikes on you. That’s when I always say, “Darn it. Bad luck. They dropped.” And all this stuff is going on and nobody really appears to see it.

RM: Well I think that and I hope these conversations have been beneficial to some of the institutions, and the administrators, the staff members, and faculty members that are watching this because I think it’s a huge opportunity for us to help everyone kind of take a look at things that you don’t necessarily see because you’re in it every day. And these are discussions that we’re hoping that you’re having and your institution.

Dr. JP: That’s what we do working together as a team.

RM: And we’re very happy to be doing that and thanks so much Dr. Pace.

Dr. JP: Thank you. We’ll be back!

RM: Yes. We’ll be back for sure!