As you watch your students develop and move into the college level, you prepare them with as much information as possible. But also make sure that you step back to track their successes and opportunities as a whole — this will allow you to see the patterns, trends, and results you observe year after year.
By taking this deeper dive into enrollment management, you can spot outlier issues more quickly and efficiently, as well as have a fast reference on hand for future students.
Create an exit interview
The school year’s end is a busy time, and with as much effort as your students put into their college advancement, you’re working even harder behind the scenes as their silent partner in success. To help you plan better for next year, take the time to compile a quick exit interview for your graduating seniors.
By asking students to share their high school experiences and plans for college or vocational school (college enrollment, 2-year vs. 4-year program, how many scholarships were applied for vs. received, and so on), you have a pool of data to help you work more efficiently down the road.
Track scholarship opportunities
A running list of which scholarships your students have applied for and which they have been awarded will allow you to better recognize patterns and opportunities. Then when you have other students with similar interests, goals, or backgrounds, you can guide them directly toward scholarships that proved fruitful.
Run the numbers
Once you know how many scholarships your students have applied for, how many they received, and the monetary value of the awards won, you’ll have a nice batch of data to use. With the help of a spreadsheet, you can start watching those numbers annually and notice their fluctuations.
For example, if fewer students are granted scholarships — or if they’re getting the same number of scholarships but in smaller denominations, that could be a motivator for change. You might use that information to help raise funds for a larger student scholarship education campaign or a weekend workshop program. If by checking your data, you see that more students are getting the money they need for college, you’ll know what approaches have been working well. Then you can reallocate resources, and energy, to refining those methods.
Encourage your colleagues within the school or local district to collect the same data to compare notes on a broader scale. This will help your whole district identify what is working as you and other school counselors test out new workshops or programs.
Set personal goals
You can’t control your students’ work or test scores, but you can gauge the patterns of those you work with. And that can give you strategic knowledge into your own role in their successes.
Once you start tracking this information, you can make a commitment to seeing scholarship winnings gain traction within a specific section of the student body. Or, if you’ve noticed a gap in those who have been accepted into college upon graduation but fail to show up for classes in the fall, you can start a personal goal to reach students likely to fall into that gap phenomenon known as summer melt.
As you see what is working for your school and what needs improvement, then you’ll be better able to address the issues you do find, some of which come with solutions that are not expensive or time-consuming, but just need implementation. For example, a recent government study showed that eight simple text message deadline reminders sent to low-income students between the end of high school and the start of college had a strong, positive impact on how many arrived the first day and lessened the summer melt.