In 2018, Amarillo College (AC) identified the need to make improvements to the student experience if they were going to achieve the goals within the “No Excuses 2020” strategic plan. Under the direction of Dr. Russel Lowery-Hart, the executive leadership were creating new strategies to increase student enrollment, retention and completion rates.
As they started analyzing data and enrollment trends, they determined that a key area of improvement would be to create a holistic and consistent way to engage students throughout the enrollment life cycle.
Swim was engaged by Amarillo College to conduct a full analysis of the student experience through Deep Dive sessions with staff and faculty, Secret Student exercises, and student focus groups.
Through this work, Swim was able to identify key barriers in the onboarding and enrollment process that were impacting student success:
- Inconsistent models of which departments were dedicated to guiding students through onboarding process at certain points
- Gaps in capturing student information and tracking engagement throughout the enrollment milestones
- Inconsistent and unclear communications to inform students of next steps
- Undefined responsibilities related to student retention and intervention support
Based on the findings, Swim was able to recommend and move forward in executing a series of organizational changes that would allow the AC team to efficiently and effectively “love students to success.”
Swim identified what was required to fully execute an ideal onboarding and student engagement process through the student experience analysis. In order to define the ideal student experience, Swim worked with a cross-functional team at AC to map the onboarding and enrollment process. Through the process re-engineering work, Swim and AC were able to identify the roles and responsibilities, technology integrations, business processes, and communications touchpoints that would drive conversions throughout the student life cycle.
Using the defined processes, Swim worked with AC to:
- Execute an organizational restructure to clearly define departmental responsibilities related to student conversions
- Build functional requirements that guided the purchase of a new customer relationship management (CRM) system
- Develop automated communication plans that delivered timely and relevant information to students within all phases of onboarding, enrollment and retention, for credit-seeking and Adult Education students
- Identify key risk factors and build intervention strategies to increase persistence and completion
- Create faculty engagement strategies to enhance the classroom and instructional experience
- Promote the Advocacy Resource Center (ARC) services that assist students with personal challenges or barriers
- Restructure the tutoring Success Centers to support the shift to co-requisite course model
As AC and Swim implemented the solutions, and continued to scale based on success, there was a significant progress in areas of student success:
- 13% increase in enrollment after the CRM launch
- 34% decrease in withdrawal rates
- 1,215% increase in students served by the ARC
- 8% increase in graduation rates within four year
This work has continuously been recognized by The Aspen Institute; AC was named as the Rising Star finalist in 2021 and, in 2023, Amarillo College was the co-recipient of the coveted Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.
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Interested in Learning More about Swim's Work with Amarillo College?
Join us on May 22, 2023, for the “Road to the Aspen Prize” webinar with Dr. Tamara Clunis and Swim President, Trimeka Benjamin.