Numbers That Work

Keeping admissions and enrollment personalized despite large numbers of inquiries.

GUEST COLUMN | by Mildred Johnson

CREDIT Virginia TechOur university consists of more than 31,000 students, more than 24,000 of whom are undergraduates. Each year, we receive over 20,000 applications for undergraduate admissions. In the fall of 2014, we enrolled a freshman class of 5,364. We are fortunate to have a partner working with us to ensure that our admissions and enrollment processes are as efficient and productive as possible. I believe strongly that it is important to make and keep the admissions process personalized.

These days, prospective students often expect an instant and interactive experience with the colleges and universities they are considering.

Often, college admissions seem unapproachable to prospective students and their families. However, my team and I are dedicated to reading each application we receive and reviewing the applicant’s credentials in a thoughtful way through our holistic review process. These days, prospective students often expect an instant and interactive experience with the colleges and universities they are considering. Like everyone else, we are trying to be creative in finding ways to reach our target audience and break through all of the noise. To accomplish this, we’ve made a conscious effort to meet students where they are. While we still value and facilitate the traditional college visit, we have enhanced our virtual experiences by creating a virtual tour, organizing web Q&A events, and partnering with Chegg, a leader in college networking and recruiting.

We chose a partner based on how their products and services align with our goals and priorities — and they reach 75% of college bound students. They are very creative and fun to work with, and they do a great job of helping us connect with prospective students by sending us inquiries and designing a user-friendly social media platform where we can interact with prospective students.

Periodically, throughout the recruitment process, they send online messages through their platform on our behalf. For the Class of 2018, we received more than 17,000 inquires. Of that number:

  • 24% became applicants
  • 76% of those applicants were offered admission
  • Of those admitted, 64% were in-state and 34% were out-of-state
  • 46 states were represented, as were Guam and Puerto Rico.

These results clearly show that our partner provided a significant number of qualified applicants, and they advanced our goal of attracting more out-of-state students. The numbers speak for themselves. Best of all, they reach large numbers of college-bound students — and specifically a good portion of our incoming class — year after year.

Ready to Adapt

That said, one of the most compelling reasons for partnering with such a company is the return on investment. We believed it was a good idea to partner with them and we enjoyed working with their people. However, the numbers more than validate our choice. They help us recruit so many great students each year, and their student focus is very exciting and refreshing.

Higher education institutions need a partner that is forward thinking and I personally value that. I believe we have to always be looking ahead and that we need to always be ready to adapt and meet our prospective students where they are. These days, you need a partner to help you accomplish this.

To education leaders, administrators, and anyone looking to significantly improve their admissions procedures: find a trusted partner. Choose to work with a leader of experience and quality that will produce very real and measurable benefits. And if the numbers can speak for themselves, then those are numbers that work.

Mildred Johnson is the Associate Vice Provost for Enrollment Management and Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Virginia Tech. Write to: mildredj@exchange.vt.edu

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Real Value

Leveraging edtech to graduate with career-ready skills.

GUEST COLUMN | by Becky Fisher

CREDIT FullbridgeOnly a few years ago, we judged colleges and universities solely on their ability to attract talented students. The higher the SAT score and GPA, the higher the college would be ranked. This still rings true in many ways, but the tables are turning. Higher education has been put under the microscope: post-graduate outcomes are becoming the new benchmark; return on investment is the new hot topic; and applicants want to know what type of job they will land once they’ve completed their studies.

From massive open online courses (MOOCs), to bootcamps, to blended learning, education technology has enabled students to gain the skills that employers want in unprecedented ways. 

There was a point where a bachelor’s degree was enough to be successful, but in today’s competitive landscape, it’s just the beginning. Employers want to see developed skill sets, including hard skills like using critical tools such as Excel and PowerPoint, marketing, and sales, alongside soft skills like teamwork, communication, and ambition. A bachelor’s degree is no longer enough.

Fortunately, various solutions exist today to better prepare our college students for the workplace and to provide all types of learners with opportunities to be successful. From massive open online courses (MOOCs), to bootcamps, to blended learning, education technology has enabled students to gain the skills that employers want in unprecedented ways.

MOOCs

Perhaps no solution is more synonymous with scalable education than the MOOC. This model attracted media attention in a way that few education technologies have and shook the higher education system enough to force stakeholders all over the world to look inward. Now that the media hype has diminished, it’s become apparent how MOOCs can be best utilized: to provide supplemental learning to highly motivated, self-driven students.

For students who crave a competitive edge and recognize what skills are needed in their chosen industries, MOOCs are great. Courses like “Data Analysis and Statistical Inference” on Coursera or “Marketing for Non-Marketers” on edX can provide students with additional learning that can help them get the job they want.

The downside? MOOCs require students to be incredibly self-motivated to get the most out of the course. The more you put into a MOOC, the better the outcome. But without serious accountability, there tends to be a low rate of completion.

Blended Learning

By design, blended learning solutions take from the best of both worlds to create a hybrid model for education. Because these programs are able to deliver content online with a live coach as facilitator, the outcomes tend to be positive, with great retention of knowledge and new skills acquired.

Programs exist that are pioneering the blended learning model on campuses, working with colleges and universities to provide the technology to scale the content while coaches provide in-person support and mentorship. Additionally, there are projects, case studies and team exercises that let students apply the lessons learned in a hands-on manner. Other online programs like Khan Academy are adding coaches to their courses to ensure better outcomes.

The downside? Blended Learning programs are not offered on all college campuses and are not as scalable as the MOOC. That being said, if you have access to a great blended learning program, completion and success rates tend to be high.

Bootcamps

Bootcamps are becoming a major player in the edtech and career preparation space. Some programs guarantee real results and jobs at the end of the program, while others provide badges and certificates to show completion. These programs tend to be mostly in-person with some online work. Programs like General Assembly and Dev Bootcamp teach hard skills like coding and UX design that can be directly applied to a job. Popular amongst undergrads and young professionals, this style of program can help lead directly to a career.

The downside? Bootcamps are not always readily available at the times that undergraduates need them. Additionally, they tend to teach one skill in depth, as opposed to diversifying the skill set. However, if you know you want a specific job as an engineer or a designer, these programs are the way to go.

As the higher education system continues to evolve based on market needs, new ways of learning like MOOCs, blended learning, and bootcamps can help speed up the process. Technology has provided a scalable solution to reach more students and provide them with the tools they need to get a job and begin a career. As the market continues to change, these solutions – and others that come after them – will remain flexible and interactive, providing relevant supplemental programming to ensure our youth are prepared for the workplace.

Becky Fisher is the Executive Director of Partnerships at Fullbridge. Previously, Becky was the founder of San Francisco-based career accelerator, Beyond Business, which provided college students and recent graduates with an immersion course in business and the Silicon Valley tech industry. As a former educator and consultant, Becky has designed innovative, tech-integrated curriculum for her own classroom, as well as worked with education companies including EdSurge, Edutopia, Kidaptive, Drawp, and Launchpad Toys. Becky holds a Masters Degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Bachelors Degree from Northwestern University.

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Made with Technology

The changing face of manufacturing careers. 

GUEST COLUMN | by David Corey 

CREDIT ATSIt’s no secret that over the past few decades, the face of manufacturing jobs has dramatically changed – especially when it comes to technology.

With a combination of IT solutions from advanced robotics to fully integrated production systems, facilities today are experiencing a new wave of manufacturing. And with “smart” manufacturing, many companies are moving towards a new level of interconnected and intelligent systems which incorporate the latest advances in sensors, robotics, 3D printing (3DP), big data, controllers and machine learning advances to build better products, operate more efficiently and communicate more effectively with customers.

Don’t assume that technology is replacing jobs. With the rise of computer-based devices and automation in manufacturing, many companies now have increased need for sophisticated, technical workers to program, operate and maintain operations.

For example, connected devices are making diagnostic data available remotely, delivering the possibility to identify, diagnose and even repair equipment via software updates and remote fixes. Every avoided trip can represent a significant cost savings and a boost to equipment utilization and profitability. Just think: when IT solutions and software can anticipate what a company’s needs, it makes everything easier, freeing the organization to focus on the bigger picture.

As a result, and to keep pace with the evolution of these “smarter” machines moving forward, manufacturers today are requiring a more highly skilled type of worker to manage the increasing complexity and shorter mind-to-market product cycles. The right IT team can fix the problems that can lead to a stressful work environment, slow down a team and jeopardize profitability. For example, enhanced IT efforts can unify all your systems and eliminate processes that require double entry, which duplicates effort and increases the risk of manual entry error with software solutions.

Manufacturing workers today must possess a wide variety of skills. For example, while technical skills have practical application, understanding algorithms and advanced computing can translate into the ability to develop advanced technologies, such as 3D-modeling and advanced robotics. Math skills can translate into applied competencies in measurement and spatial reasoning. And, strong problem-solving skills can equate to the ability to autonomously adjust robots and production systems in real-time.

Technology jobs in manufacturing today require data interpretation skills. In addition, techs need the ability to work closely with other factory floor employees and with managers and engineers. Instead of hiring a “wrench turner,” more and more supervisors are starting to understand the importance of recruiting and training employees who not only encompass strong mechanical skills, but also a great knowledge and understanding of today’s ever-changing software and technology tools and solutions.

Overall, as product development and manufacturing systems become more interwoven, workers must boast higher levels of technical and analytical skills in order to streamline processes and create production efficiency. These are typically quite specialized skills, and often require a combination of publicly available education (typically in community colleges or technical schools), vendor-based education, as well as on-the-job training.

What about the reported skills gap?

This is not new news – in fact, for years, manufacturers have reported a sizeable gap between the talent they need to keep growing their businesses and the talent they can actually find. Yet, career op­portunities forging ahead actually abound in this area. In fact, two million job openings in manufacturing are expected through 2018, mostly being attributed to the retirement of the Baby Boomers, according to a report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

However, the industry’s Manufacturing Institute predicts that many of these future jobs might go unfilled due to the lack of workers with the right technology, computer and technical skills. Why is this the case? And what can today’s companies do to solve the problem?

For one thing, continuing negative public perceptions of manufacturing jobs as low-level, dangerous or with minimal job security are a few reasons why the talent pool remains small. Changing these public perceptions to match the current realities of U.S. manufacturing is critical in addressing this worker shortage, especially among Millennials.

There must be changes in the image of manufacturing and techs in order to attract more students into the field.

Moving forward, manufacturing organizations must take the lead in managing the talent shortage by designing strategies that not only optimize talent acquisition and deployment, but also contribute to developing manufacturing skills. Manufacturers should work to build community outreach programs, design curriculums in collaboration with technical and community colleges and continue to invest in external relationships that can help attract talent.

Another approach to is to work to embed manufacturing tech options in the career counseling process in schools. Although diminished in many cases in the U.S. by lack of funding, more effective career counseling could expose students to the opportunities offered by tech jobs and the paths to getting them. Believe it or not, some companies are beginning to reach out to middle schools to expose students to these opportunities.

Company leaders also must create more opportunities for tech-savvy Millennials to get more directly involved in manufacturing – whether efforts are focused on helping them acquire traditional skills like machining, or building new skills in the increasingly IT-driven fields of plant automation, supply chain management, or new product-based Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and data analytics.

Finally, manufacturers must not only work to recruit team members with the skills required to meet today’s and tomorrow’s advanced manufacturing requirements, they must also develop and engage their existing workforces.

Creating this supply of workers with both manufacturing and technical skills is absolutely critical to the future competitiveness of companies and the industry as a whole.

David Corey is General Manager, IT Services, at Advanced Technology Services, Inc. www.advancedtech.com

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Cool Tool | Edmodo for Parents App

CREDIT Edmodo for Parents appEdmodo has reinvented the way parents can be involved in their child’s education with the new Edmodo for Parents App. Historically, they provided parents with parent account access, but the app does even more to bolster teacher-parent and parent-student interaction. Built with teacher feedback, it provides a simple and intuitive way to stay in the know on a child’s learning activities, and gives parents something they can access on-the-go and on their schedule. Additionally, it enables parents to better support their child’s academic efforts and receive important announcements and updates from teachers for optimal learning outcomes. Available for free in the iTunes and Google Play stores, the app features a Student Activity feed, showing upcoming or overdue homework; completed and submitted assignments; and any lessons, quizzes, or events that are due or upcoming. Similarly, the Teacher Announcement feed keeps parents in the loop on important news from the classroom. Teacher Lynn Woods says of the app: “I can easily communicate with my students’ parents and know that they’re invested in supporting their child’s learning efforts, which makes me feel that I have an extended team I can work with to help my students reach their goals.” Worth a look.

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Trends | Digital Learning Report Card

CREDIT DLN Digital Report CardDigital Learning Now, (DLN), an initiative of the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd), today released the 2014 Digital Learning Report Card. The Digital Learning Report Card measures state policies on digital learning based on their alignment to the 10 Elements of High-Quality Digital Learning. New in 2014, the report card examines and highlights the progress of individual states in implementing policies. Way back in 2010, the Digital Learning Council, a diverse group of more than 100 leaders in education, government, philanthropy, business, technology and members of policy think tanks — convened to develop a roadmap to integrate technological innovations into public education. As a result, the group produced the 10 Elements of High Quality Digital Learning , a comprehensive framework of state-level policies and actions designed to advance the meaningful and thoughtful integration of technology into K-12 public education. To learn more, click on the image to get the report and to play and learn with a very cool interactive map.

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