Converting prospective students into fully fledged, signed up members of the College can be a difficult and frustrating task. On paper a large number of eager applicants can lead to a false sense of security and conversion rates during ernolment time can be disappointing despite the early promise. Ultimately, a tutor's valuable time can be wasted phoning round and chasing up applicants who have suddenly changed their minds, disappeared off the face of the planet or, worse still, enrolled at another institution.
To try to ease this situation and maximise on the conversion rates of applicants we've been working closely with our colleagues in Information Systems, IT Users, Marketing and the Faculties to bring applicants into the fold as early as possible...a truly collaboritive effort to solve a difficult problem.
What if we create logon accounts for applicants so that they can access our network, systems and information before they even step foot within the building? What if we make them feel part of the College and its culture and give them the opportunity to ask questions, engage with our online environment and each other before they've signed on the dotted line?
The plan was hatched...
Each FE applicant now has a logon account created for them pre-enrolment, enabling them to logon to C_Space (our intranet) from anywhere off-site. Marketing have sent mail shots to each applicant giving them their unique credentials and instructions on how to logon via our website.
We can identify the 'pre-enrolled' learners via their credentials and also the faculty inwhich their course is based. This enables us to automatically re-direct them to specially created faculty homepages, filled with useful information and links, messages from tutors, examples of specific events and trips, contact points and FAQs.
We've also set up a special forum where applicants can ask questions and engage online with each other forming a shared sense of community.
Perhaps most importantly, applicants can access C_Space and explore the wealth of information, applications and features it contains. The knock-on effect is that they will already be familiar with our online environment and know how to access information and resources online before they start their course. In effect, they can 'try before they buy'and the induction process has been initiated well in advance of the learner coming in for their initial orientation and thus aleviating some of the anxiety they feel on those nerve wracking first few days.
Hopefully, the early bird really does catch the worm and we'll see an increase in the number of applicants converted into full time students at the start of the new academic year.