Everett Community College (EvCC) was facing an enrollment decline approaching the Spring 2020 quarter during the initial phases of the pandemic. The largest area of opportunity was to retain returning students and to do so, EvCC had to prepare them for the first term of virtual learning.
EvCC was already engaged with Swim Digital Group (Swim) to build long-term enrollment strategies, but it was evident that there were necessary rapid response enrollment solutions needed in order to meet the Spring enrollment goals.
Swim facilitated a series of discovery sessions to identify immediate communications and technology solutions that could be deployed within the three weeks prior to the start of the Spring quarter. Since EvCC has a quarter schedule, they were also quickly approaching enrollment period for the Summer quarter so Swim created scalable solutions that could live past the rapid response for Spring.
SERVICES PROVIDED FOR THIS CASE STUDY:
Swim identified two target audiences that required immediate action – new applicants and returning students – and activated three types of solutions.
Swim built a series of communications that proactively informed EvCC applicants and current students about how the College would continue to provide services in a remote setting. The communications also clearly outlined the immediate next steps that the students needed to complete to move forward with Spring classes.
The new communications used a combination of email messages, texts, and phone calls from Enrollment Services staff to increase the communication touchpoints in an effort to reach students in a more effective manner.
One of the largest challenges for the EvCC staff was the lack of technology to communicate with students. Swim was able to identify ways to leverage existing institution systems and new low-cost solutions. To do so, Swim collaborated with the IT department to host training on existing technology, such as Jabber, and launch a new texting solution so they could more efficiently reach out to students.
Through the discovery sessions, Swim identified process barriers that were making it difficult for returning students to enroll in classes. Through collaboration with key stakeholders, Swim was able to modify the processes to give access to more students. One key group were students who were waitlisted for classes, preventing many from creating a full-time schedule – which was detrimental to the College meeting state FTE goals. Swim worked with EvCC to identify the most in-demand courses and open additional sections, rather than waiting for the drop process before letting students join from the waitlist.
A second process that was hindering enrollment was financial holds. There were over 100 students who owed less than $600 and wouldn’t be eligible for enrolling in the Spring quarter. Swim was able to work with the College to identify funding opportunities to help students overcome that financial barrier. For the upcoming Summer quarter, Swim was also able to work with the Financial Services department to recommend extensions to the drop for non-payment deadline to adapt to students facing financial challenges during the pandemic.
When EvCC engaged Swim in rapid response work, there were three weeks until the Spring quarter and they were more than 15% down in enrollment. As a result of this work, they only ended 0.5% below the FTE goal. The strategies used for Spring were also scaled for the Summer enrollment, which ended 10.7% higher than the FTE enrollment goal.