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June 8, 2021

Accessible Admissions Starts with Reducing Friction

Accessible Admissions Starts with Reducing Friction

When you’re looking at changing the “way we’ve always done it,” you’re working to remove barriers and ultimately move your organization forward.

Being able to then communicate change as an advantage to both prospective students and internal stakeholders is a challenge. But it’s an important one for driving growth.

In this episode of The Higher Ed Marketer, Bart Caylor, President & Founder at Caylor Solutions Inc, and Troy Singer, Senior Account Executive at Think Patented, chat with James Steen, Vice President of Enrollment Management at Houston Baptist University, about how Houston Baptist went test-optional, and how they’ve been able to communicate the benefits of such a critical decision.

They also talked about:

- How test-optional makes admissions more accessible.

- How to approach merit awards without test scores.

- How test-optional reduces friction in the application process.

- How to market test-optional both externally and internally.

Know of a higher education marketing change agent you’d like to hear on the show? Does your university have an interesting story to be featured? Connect with Bart Caylor or Troy Singer. If you’re not on LinkedIn, check the Caylor Solutions or Think Patented websites instead!
To hear more interviews like this one, subscribe to The Higher Ed Marketer on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your preferred podcast platform.  

The Higher Ed Marketer podcast is sponsored by Caylor Solutions, an Education Marketing and Branding Agency, and by Think Patented, a Marketing Execution, Printing and Mailing provider of Higher Ed solutions.

    

 

Transcript
WEBVTT 1 00:00:02.879 --> 00:00:07.190 You were listening to the Higher Ed Marketer, a podcast geared towards marketing professionals 2 00:00:07.230 --> 00:00:11.910 in higher education. This show will tackle all sorts of questions related to student 3 00:00:11.949 --> 00:00:16.070 recruitment, don't a relations, marketing, trends, new technologies and so much 4 00:00:16.070 --> 00:00:20.230 more. If you are looking for conversations centered around where the industry is going, 5 00:00:20.750 --> 00:00:30.140 this podcast is for you. Let's get into the show. Welcome to 6 00:00:30.179 --> 00:00:34.579 the High Ed Marketer Podcast, where every week we try to create wonderful and 7 00:00:34.659 --> 00:00:40.810 interesting conversations with higher ed marketers that we admire for the sake of other high 8 00:00:40.850 --> 00:00:46.409 ed markers to clean ideas from or just have something in common with. I'm 9 00:00:46.490 --> 00:00:51.560 always joined with my cohost, Bart Taylor, and we are talking to James 10 00:00:51.600 --> 00:00:56.840 Steen and he's with Houston back this university, and he is going to give 11 00:00:56.880 --> 00:01:00.759 us some wonderful tidbits on a transition that they made here recently. Barred, 12 00:01:00.759 --> 00:01:04.750 if you can help me explain a little bit about James and what they're doing? 13 00:01:04.870 --> 00:01:07.989 Yeah, I think we're going to have a great conversation with James and 14 00:01:08.310 --> 00:01:14.230 I met James Number of years ago at a Council for Christian College Universities Meeting 15 00:01:14.349 --> 00:01:18.510 and in Tampa Bay and Hannah will head it off while and have a chance 16 00:01:18.549 --> 00:01:21.099 to kind of get to know each other a little bit better. And I've 17 00:01:21.140 --> 00:01:23.780 kind of followed him for a couple years on what he's been doing and it's 18 00:01:23.819 --> 00:01:27.340 been fascinating and he's an excellent leader and rule kind of looked up to several 19 00:01:27.500 --> 00:01:33.209 of his peers and especially in faith based Christian Higher Education, and I know 20 00:01:33.370 --> 00:01:38.450 that recently he spoke at a conference that I spoke with with Nacap, and 21 00:01:38.650 --> 00:01:41.209 so it was great to be a part of that with him. But he 22 00:01:41.969 --> 00:01:46.930 he's done some very innovative things during his time at HBU and it it plays 23 00:01:46.969 --> 00:01:51.319 out into higher enrollment numbers, and so I really like the fact that sometimes 24 00:01:52.319 --> 00:01:57.159 doing innovative things and making what might be hard decisions sometimes can really pay off 25 00:01:57.319 --> 00:02:00.909 and really, in the long run, create a momentum that that you can 26 00:02:01.189 --> 00:02:05.670 really ride for a while. And one of the conversations that we'll talk about 27 00:02:05.670 --> 00:02:07.590 today is the idea of this whole test optional. You know, whether or 28 00:02:07.629 --> 00:02:14.550 not you need an act or an sat score to come to college. It's 29 00:02:14.629 --> 00:02:17.900 controversial. There's been a lot of conversation on inside Higher Ed and other industry 30 00:02:19.259 --> 00:02:23.099 publications about different aspects of test optional as far as you know, from a 31 00:02:23.259 --> 00:02:30.330 from a racial equality and devotion diversity standpoint to just a pragmatic standpoint within the 32 00:02:30.569 --> 00:02:36.009 pandemic, and I think it's a interesting to hear James Talk about his journey 33 00:02:36.050 --> 00:02:40.129 on that, on that thought process and the decisions that Hbu made this year 34 00:02:40.210 --> 00:02:44.719 as it related to that and how HBU is a kind of an interesting place 35 00:02:44.719 --> 00:02:46.879 as far as diversity to so it's going to be some really good conversations to 36 00:02:47.319 --> 00:02:53.439 to hear from James. Yes, he's a smart individual and a very engaging 37 00:02:53.280 --> 00:03:01.229 conversationalist and it's time for us to bring him into the conversation. We're excited 38 00:03:01.310 --> 00:03:07.509 to welcome James Steen, vice president of enrollment management at Houston Baptist University, 39 00:03:07.710 --> 00:03:12.150 to show welcome James. Thank you so much for having me, Troy. 40 00:03:12.150 --> 00:03:15.340 I appreciate it. James, if you could please tell us about your role 41 00:03:15.419 --> 00:03:22.300 at Houston Baptist, absolutely so. I've been at Houston Baptist University for almost 42 00:03:22.340 --> 00:03:27.930 fifteen years now and before that I was at Baylor University for a little over 43 00:03:28.090 --> 00:03:35.250 thirteen years and I describe myself as Babes, basically a recovering admissions counselor. 44 00:03:35.370 --> 00:03:38.250 I started way back when, right out of college, I was a tour 45 00:03:38.370 --> 00:03:44.960 guide whenever I was a student at Baylor and would drop families off over at 46 00:03:44.960 --> 00:03:47.759 the admissions office. So when I was graduating and had no idea what I 47 00:03:47.879 --> 00:03:51.919 was going to do after graduation, I thought I could. I could get 48 00:03:51.960 --> 00:03:55.389 one of those admissions counselor jobs and do that for a year or two and 49 00:03:55.469 --> 00:03:59.870 then go get a real job. Right. So, twenty eight years later, 50 00:04:00.030 --> 00:04:04.990 here I am and I'm still a recovering admissions counselor. That's great, 51 00:04:04.990 --> 00:04:09.830 James. I don't think I've ever met a small girl or boy who says 52 00:04:09.830 --> 00:04:12.939 I want to be a vice president for enrollment when I grew up. Sometimes 53 00:04:12.979 --> 00:04:15.420 so exactly. It's not one of those jobs that you start and you say 54 00:04:15.459 --> 00:04:19.899 that's that's my career path. But that's exciting. It's definitely not on the 55 00:04:19.939 --> 00:04:26.569 top ten list, is it? So you know, when we first kind 56 00:04:26.569 --> 00:04:29.649 of started talking a little bit about this podcast, James, I know you 57 00:04:29.689 --> 00:04:31.689 and I've known each other for a few years and we reached out to you 58 00:04:31.769 --> 00:04:34.170 and said, Hey, let's let's kind of talk a little bit about what's 59 00:04:34.170 --> 00:04:38.800 going on at Houston Baptist and in the pre interview you kind of talked about 60 00:04:38.800 --> 00:04:41.399 a number of things, but one of the interesting topics that I found, 61 00:04:41.759 --> 00:04:45.279 especially in light of what's happened in the last year, eighteen months, with 62 00:04:45.399 --> 00:04:49.839 with covid and the pandemic, is just the just this journey and maybe the 63 00:04:49.920 --> 00:04:55.949 success that Houston Baptist has after you made the decision to go test optional, 64 00:04:56.550 --> 00:04:59.350 and I know a lot of people are aware of that. I just like 65 00:04:59.470 --> 00:05:00.670 to talk a little bit about that because, I mean, we have a 66 00:05:00.709 --> 00:05:04.750 lot of different people on the listening to the show. Some people might totally 67 00:05:04.790 --> 00:05:08.740 understand what's going on. What why you made that choice. Other people might 68 00:05:08.779 --> 00:05:12.259 be like what's test optional? Tell us a little bit about what went into 69 00:05:12.300 --> 00:05:15.459 that topic, when I went into that decision for Hbu and where you guys 70 00:05:15.500 --> 00:05:18.259 are on that. Yeah, thanks, Bart. It's a good question and 71 00:05:18.420 --> 00:05:26.329 I know I'll qualify my my stance on test optional by saying, you know, 72 00:05:26.449 --> 00:05:30.170 probably five or six years ago I wrote a paper when I was working 73 00:05:30.209 --> 00:05:35.959 on my doctor just about the whole test optional process in general and I really 74 00:05:36.480 --> 00:05:43.040 took the stance in that and that paper arguing that it's not necessarily. The 75 00:05:43.480 --> 00:05:48.079 problem is not necessarily with the test as much as it is with our admissions 76 00:05:48.160 --> 00:05:54.790 policies. Right. So where is the the the sat or the act? 77 00:05:54.949 --> 00:06:00.949 Certainly, standardized testing is is certainly biased in favor of some versus others. 78 00:06:00.990 --> 00:06:05.300 As long as the stance I took was as long as we as enroll of 79 00:06:05.379 --> 00:06:10.500 managers, as directors of admission, as long as we're, you know, 80 00:06:10.819 --> 00:06:16.779 able to have policies that are fair and equitable, it's not necessarily the test 81 00:06:16.939 --> 00:06:19.810 that's the problem. So that was the argument that I took several years ago. 82 00:06:19.850 --> 00:06:28.370 So so I didn't necessarily go into the pandemic or go into two thousand 83 00:06:28.370 --> 00:06:32.920 and twenty with this whole mindset that test optional was going to be the greatest 84 00:06:32.920 --> 00:06:38.839 thing since live spread. But I'm I've kind of I'm coming out of this 85 00:06:39.199 --> 00:06:45.160 crazy covid year that we've had really as a convert, if you will, 86 00:06:45.480 --> 00:06:49.790 to test optional and I think for for us, for hbu especially, it 87 00:06:50.470 --> 00:06:56.709 really has been a game changer. And I'll also say too, if we're 88 00:06:56.990 --> 00:07:02.540 HBU, Houston Baptist University is a really unique institution. It's not your typical 89 00:07:02.620 --> 00:07:10.939 private or Baptist University. Were Majority Hispanic with well over forty two, forty 90 00:07:11.019 --> 00:07:15.540 three percent of our freshman or Hispanic. Were about twenty one, twenty two 91 00:07:15.579 --> 00:07:19.209 percent African American. We're about one, nineteen, twenty percent wide and and 92 00:07:19.410 --> 00:07:23.970 even, you know, ten to twelve percent Asian. So it's a really, 93 00:07:24.329 --> 00:07:30.399 really diverse institution. So we didn't necessarily need to go test optional to 94 00:07:30.399 --> 00:07:38.519 help more students of Color Access Hbu. We that that was not the impetus. 95 00:07:38.680 --> 00:07:43.480 We really made that switch because we had to. Literally students were not 96 00:07:43.720 --> 00:07:48.790 able to take standardized test. They did not have set or act scores readily 97 00:07:48.829 --> 00:07:54.269 available. So we really just did it as a strategic decision. But like 98 00:07:54.470 --> 00:07:57.790 everybody else did, and I know we can, we can dig into the 99 00:07:57.829 --> 00:08:01.699 numbers a little bit further, but but I would say for us at Hbu, 100 00:08:01.939 --> 00:08:05.100 it really, really has been a game changer. It's great. And 101 00:08:05.579 --> 00:08:07.339 I guess, just out of curiosity, since since we're talking to a lot 102 00:08:07.379 --> 00:08:11.180 of marketers on this podcast, how did you end up kind of communicating that 103 00:08:11.300 --> 00:08:16.529 and really kind of selling that as a benefit for Hbu, because, I 104 00:08:16.569 --> 00:08:20.050 mean, not everybody's doing that and certainly there's various reasons why people might go 105 00:08:20.209 --> 00:08:22.050 test optional. Mean certainly a lot of it's the right thing to do as 106 00:08:22.089 --> 00:08:28.519 far as diversity and accessibility for four different different groups. But but I think 107 00:08:28.600 --> 00:08:31.959 that, you know, the pandemic caust some things. But how did you 108 00:08:31.039 --> 00:08:33.960 end up kind of communicating that and how did that become part of the marketing? 109 00:08:35.000 --> 00:08:37.399 Yeah, I think that's a good question. We you know, from 110 00:08:37.559 --> 00:08:41.710 from our perspective. You know, as you said, we didn't necessarily go 111 00:08:41.870 --> 00:08:48.029 into it trying to increase our diversity, and I will say they're there are 112 00:08:48.549 --> 00:08:52.429 very legitimate reasons to do that. I know a lot of institutions have had 113 00:08:52.470 --> 00:08:58.059 success doing that even prior to the pandemic, and I think it's important, 114 00:08:58.539 --> 00:09:03.379 you know, to note as well on the back end that that that institutions 115 00:09:03.539 --> 00:09:09.299 that go test optional there their mean sat or mean act goes up right, 116 00:09:09.460 --> 00:09:13.250 because those with lower test scores tend not to self report, those with higher 117 00:09:13.330 --> 00:09:18.570 test scores do continue to provide test scores and go that route, if you 118 00:09:18.690 --> 00:09:24.440 will, and we've seen all of those things happen at Hbu this year as 119 00:09:24.480 --> 00:09:28.240 well. But I think we really went into it with the message that we 120 00:09:28.440 --> 00:09:33.559 understand what you're going through. We understand that there are problems and issues. 121 00:09:33.679 --> 00:09:37.830 There's limited access to standardized testing and so we want to do whatever we can 122 00:09:39.509 --> 00:09:45.149 to make HBU and this admissions process is accessible to you as possible. And 123 00:09:45.389 --> 00:09:50.230 and and, quite frankly, I think the the marketing of test optional in 124 00:09:50.309 --> 00:09:56.980 a lot of ways has almost become ubiquitous. So I don't know many institutions 125 00:09:56.580 --> 00:10:01.340 who have really, you know, planted a you know, a stake in 126 00:10:01.379 --> 00:10:03.340 the ground and said we're not budging, this is our policy, come hell 127 00:10:03.340 --> 00:10:09.250 or high water. I think really all of us, at least every rob 128 00:10:09.289 --> 00:10:11.809 of manners that I know, had to make some hard decisions or or change 129 00:10:11.970 --> 00:10:16.850 their processes in terms of test optional, in terms of how to get this 130 00:10:18.090 --> 00:10:20.639 class is two thousand and twenty one class in the door. So I don't 131 00:10:20.639 --> 00:10:24.879 want to say it's sold itself, but but it certainly was not a hard 132 00:10:26.039 --> 00:10:30.120 cell, if you will. From a marketing perspective it's great and from what 133 00:10:30.600 --> 00:10:33.840 from what I understand what you've said is that it was not in an impediment 134 00:10:33.919 --> 00:10:37.590 to building your class, and I think that's probably an important thing. Is 135 00:10:37.629 --> 00:10:41.669 that sometimes, when we're looking at these things trying to make decisions about how 136 00:10:41.710 --> 00:10:45.029 things move forward, it's like what's going to hurt you versus what could help 137 00:10:45.029 --> 00:10:50.940 you if you move those things exactly exactly. And I think in doing that 138 00:10:50.179 --> 00:10:58.179 we've now in some ways created an expectation, at least externally, that this 139 00:10:58.419 --> 00:11:01.019 is going to be the new norm and I think it'll be interesting to see 140 00:11:01.539 --> 00:11:07.090 over the next several years how many institutions go back to requiring an essay to 141 00:11:07.210 --> 00:11:15.289 or in act, how many institutions continue to have test optional as a as 142 00:11:15.370 --> 00:11:18.879 one of their admissions policies? And I think, not not to speak for 143 00:11:20.200 --> 00:11:26.200 the administration at Houston Baptist University, I think, I think for the short 144 00:11:26.200 --> 00:11:31.240 run we are very happy remaining test optional and I think there's even, you 145 00:11:31.320 --> 00:11:35.629 know, several more ways to leverage that in the future. If I recall 146 00:11:35.789 --> 00:11:41.190 correctly in our earlier conversation, tested out test optional. Certainly, as you 147 00:11:41.230 --> 00:11:46.500 said, the higher scores tend to self report. You still require scores for 148 00:11:46.779 --> 00:11:52.299 merit awards, as that correct? That is not correct. So we actually 149 00:11:52.539 --> 00:11:56.100 yeah, so we started the year, you know, with this, with 150 00:11:56.259 --> 00:12:01.340 this big question mark of okay, what are we going to do about those 151 00:12:01.450 --> 00:12:05.850 who were admitted under test optional that don't have a test score, because obviously 152 00:12:05.129 --> 00:12:11.289 merit awards were so, so integral to that process. So we literally came 153 00:12:11.370 --> 00:12:18.399 up with an entirely new process for awarding merit and and I'll be honest, 154 00:12:18.440 --> 00:12:22.879 it was it was a little touch and go. We we certainly ran numbers. 155 00:12:24.200 --> 00:12:28.120 We worked with RNL to come up with, you know, a formulation 156 00:12:28.440 --> 00:12:33.509 for our scholarship and merit awarding that we thought could work with test optional. 157 00:12:33.990 --> 00:12:41.429 And and in doing that, the tricky thing was our our acceptance letters actually 158 00:12:41.990 --> 00:12:46.860 doubles as a scholarship or merit award. So it's congratulations, bar to, 159 00:12:46.940 --> 00:12:50.379 you're accepted to Huston Baptish University and you've been awarded the X Y Z scholarship. 160 00:12:50.539 --> 00:12:56.500 So so we couldn't even get an acceptance let her out until we figured 161 00:12:56.539 --> 00:13:01.929 this process out. And and and the interesting thing was, as we we 162 00:13:01.049 --> 00:13:07.409 did have some tweaks along the way with the formula that we were using for 163 00:13:07.570 --> 00:13:11.169 test optional. But but in the in the grand scheme of things, if 164 00:13:11.210 --> 00:13:15.279 you think of your ad met pool, is kind of a bell curve with 165 00:13:15.879 --> 00:13:18.320 you know, you know, those at the top and the bottom and then 166 00:13:18.360 --> 00:13:22.480 everybody in the middle, kind of formula forming a nice pretty bell curve. 167 00:13:22.159 --> 00:13:26.350 So far. We'll see what it looks like once we get to sensus date 168 00:13:26.509 --> 00:13:30.429 and how, you know, the the final yield comes in. But so 169 00:13:30.590 --> 00:13:33.669 far we've been able to maintain that Nice, pretty bell curve, if you 170 00:13:33.789 --> 00:13:39.029 will, even with our merit award distribution. So so that was something at 171 00:13:39.029 --> 00:13:41.460 the beginning of the year I would have told you there's no way we can 172 00:13:41.500 --> 00:13:46.379 do a merit award with how to without a test score right, but we've 173 00:13:46.379 --> 00:13:50.620 been able to even pivot and figure out a way to do that going forward. 174 00:13:50.899 --> 00:13:54.100 That's great. That's great. And then I guess one final question about 175 00:13:54.100 --> 00:13:56.330 the test option before we move on. Is there any place in the funnel 176 00:13:56.330 --> 00:14:03.529 that you saw a greater increase in in results because of this, this new 177 00:14:03.769 --> 00:14:07.570 approach? I mean was it was at the applications? Was it the admits? 178 00:14:07.690 --> 00:14:09.970 Was At the deposits? I mean we're in the funnel. Did that 179 00:14:09.039 --> 00:14:13.159 kind of plate self out? Yeah, so I think that was the thing 180 00:14:13.279 --> 00:14:18.000 that was the most exciting and the biggest surprise to us. So at the 181 00:14:18.080 --> 00:14:22.960 top of the funnel, for for for those who, you know, don't 182 00:14:22.000 --> 00:14:26.549 know the funnel, you know you've got your inquiries and your applicants. So 183 00:14:26.750 --> 00:14:31.509 our inquiries in applicants. Year over year we're down about seven percent. So 184 00:14:31.669 --> 00:14:37.429 when your applications are down seven percent, you certainly don't expect to be up 185 00:14:37.629 --> 00:14:41.899 at the bottom of the funnel. However, because of test optional, our 186 00:14:41.980 --> 00:14:48.379 application completion rate is literally up year over year, about ten points better. 187 00:14:48.580 --> 00:14:52.809 So we're able to complete more applications even though we had fewer of them. 188 00:14:54.370 --> 00:14:58.570 And my acceptance rate, I was able to accept more. So my acceptance 189 00:14:58.610 --> 00:15:03.090 rate year over year is up about ten points. So so. So you 190 00:15:03.250 --> 00:15:07.440 do the compounding of that. So even though we're down on applications, I'm 191 00:15:07.480 --> 00:15:13.120 able to complete more and admit more at a higher rate because of test optional. 192 00:15:13.639 --> 00:15:18.519 So we literally have twenty seven percent more admits this year than we did 193 00:15:18.600 --> 00:15:22.230 last year. And and currently at the bottom of the funnel we're sitting on 194 00:15:22.429 --> 00:15:28.590 twenty four percent more deposits this year versus last year. And I think the 195 00:15:28.669 --> 00:15:31.070 the exciting thing is is, you know, a lot of us, I 196 00:15:31.190 --> 00:15:35.230 think, and I was just on an eab called the other day, and 197 00:15:35.269 --> 00:15:41.259 about two percent nationally, you know, of all institutions there, their data 198 00:15:41.340 --> 00:15:46.700 was showing the deposits were up nationally about two percent. And that's as as 199 00:15:46.820 --> 00:15:50.049 compared to last year. Will a lot of us were down on deposits last 200 00:15:50.049 --> 00:15:52.970 year. So really, if you go back to two thousand and nineteen and 201 00:15:52.169 --> 00:15:56.970 compare this year verse of Two Thousand and Nineteen, we're still up on deposits. 202 00:15:56.049 --> 00:16:02.409 And and because of I mean I'm literally giving credit to this new test 203 00:16:02.450 --> 00:16:07.519 optional policy. Because of this, this new test optional policy, we're going 204 00:16:07.559 --> 00:16:11.000 to enroll far and away a record number of freshmen this fall, which, 205 00:16:11.120 --> 00:16:15.440 of course, we're thrilled about. Let's congratulations on that. And and I 206 00:16:15.480 --> 00:16:18.389 guess want to take away, as I'm listening to from a from a marketing 207 00:16:18.429 --> 00:16:22.110 standpoint, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, but would you say 208 00:16:22.230 --> 00:16:26.909 that the test optional decision? Obviously there's a lot of things that went into 209 00:16:26.990 --> 00:16:30.669 that, but you removed one piece of friction for a student being able to 210 00:16:33.220 --> 00:16:37.860 get enrolled to Houston Baptist University. I often talked to my clients and people 211 00:16:37.899 --> 00:16:42.220 about removing friction from the students engagement. You know, whether we on the 212 00:16:42.259 --> 00:16:45.779 RFI form, if we're asking way too many questions and they just decide that 213 00:16:45.779 --> 00:16:49.970 I can't, I can't complete this, this is crazy. Anywhere we can 214 00:16:51.049 --> 00:16:53.570 remove friction, it helps kind of smooth it and keep it for it. 215 00:16:53.690 --> 00:16:57.009 It sounds to me like, you know, there's a lot of factors involved, 216 00:16:57.049 --> 00:17:00.529 but maybe there was a little bit of friction in that. You know, 217 00:17:00.610 --> 00:17:03.399 I've got to gather my scores, I've got to gather everything for my 218 00:17:03.679 --> 00:17:07.599 application. Do you think that maybe that was part of the what increased your 219 00:17:07.599 --> 00:17:12.279 application completion rate? Yeah, I mean I think it's I think it's all 220 00:17:12.400 --> 00:17:18.910 of the above. And we're even, you know, good marketers are are 221 00:17:18.069 --> 00:17:26.470 obviously good about doing research and market analysis where where we're trying to do a 222 00:17:26.109 --> 00:17:33.779 survey of this incoming class to really understand the why behind, you know, 223 00:17:33.619 --> 00:17:37.779 some of these numbers and some of these metrics that were experiencing. But, 224 00:17:38.019 --> 00:17:44.059 but, but I do think as as enrollment managers, and I you use 225 00:17:44.140 --> 00:17:47.369 the word friction, I use the word barriers, I think we have to 226 00:17:47.529 --> 00:17:55.369 be very intentional about removing barriers, right and so so the argument to be 227 00:17:55.529 --> 00:17:59.480 made is, you know, if you don't have to have an application fee, 228 00:18:00.039 --> 00:18:03.079 then then why do you have one? Or One of my mentors, 229 00:18:03.119 --> 00:18:07.759 Bill Royal, used to say the only reason to have an application fee is 230 00:18:07.799 --> 00:18:10.839 if you're willing to waive it. Right and I think there are really good 231 00:18:10.920 --> 00:18:14.549 reasons to have an application fee. But but if you don't have to have 232 00:18:14.589 --> 00:18:18.430 an application fee, do you really, you know, should you have one? 233 00:18:18.589 --> 00:18:21.230 It becomes a barrier to entry, right. So you can you can 234 00:18:21.269 --> 00:18:23.750 ask those things about every, you know, every different stage of the funnel 235 00:18:23.789 --> 00:18:27.740 and certainly in the application process. If you don't have to require a test 236 00:18:27.740 --> 00:18:33.460 score, then should you? And and I think, I think, especially 237 00:18:33.539 --> 00:18:38.059 after experiencing just some of the incredible success that we've had this year, I 238 00:18:38.259 --> 00:18:41.769 think the answer for us is no, we don't have to do that and 239 00:18:41.849 --> 00:18:45.170 I think if we're going to do it, we're going to go all in 240 00:18:45.930 --> 00:18:51.250 and and one of the things that we're looking at even for next year is 241 00:18:51.450 --> 00:18:55.450 this, is this idea of do no harm and and if an applicant comes 242 00:18:55.490 --> 00:18:59.359 in and maybe checks the I want to go traditional route or checks the test 243 00:18:59.440 --> 00:19:03.920 optional route, if for some reason they submit a test score and and maybe 244 00:19:03.960 --> 00:19:07.319 they're not admissible with that test score, but they would be admissible under a 245 00:19:07.440 --> 00:19:12.950 test optional review process or the other the other scenario could be. Or what 246 00:19:14.109 --> 00:19:18.630 if a student who comes in on the traditional route maybe would qualify for a 247 00:19:18.710 --> 00:19:23.029 lower scholarship than they would if they were test optional. Right. So do 248 00:19:23.190 --> 00:19:30.259 no harm policy would say. It doesn't matter what what methodology you choose when 249 00:19:30.259 --> 00:19:33.140 you apply, we're going to we're going to do no harm, right. 250 00:19:33.180 --> 00:19:34.579 We're going to give you the benefit of the doubt and if it's if it's 251 00:19:34.579 --> 00:19:37.859 best for you to go the traditional route or if it's best for you to 252 00:19:37.900 --> 00:19:41.650 go test optional, that's how we're going to consider you for admission and or 253 00:19:42.130 --> 00:19:48.809 awards your merit scholarship. So so I think that's how we're researching and really 254 00:19:48.970 --> 00:19:53.559 looking into how to make this even better going forward next year. That's great 255 00:19:53.920 --> 00:19:57.359 and I liked what you said about, you know, what what royal said 256 00:19:57.359 --> 00:20:02.000 about the idea of if you need a if you don't need a fee, 257 00:20:02.079 --> 00:20:04.480 don't you don't charge one. I'm sure, though, that some people on 258 00:20:04.559 --> 00:20:07.910 campus, when it comes to test optional, especially academics and faculty, would 259 00:20:07.910 --> 00:20:11.990 say, actually, that is something that's required, it's something that we need 260 00:20:11.630 --> 00:20:15.190 because, you know, for whatever reason they have their belief. How did 261 00:20:15.190 --> 00:20:18.910 you deal with facts? I'm sure that came up. It did. It 262 00:20:18.190 --> 00:20:23.140 did, and I think and just talking to colleagues, you know, and 263 00:20:23.380 --> 00:20:29.339 in different areas of the country and at other institutions. It's it is so 264 00:20:29.539 --> 00:20:33.380 true. I think that, you know, if faculty want to know that 265 00:20:33.500 --> 00:20:37.210 the students are teaching in the classroom were qualified to be there. And I 266 00:20:37.329 --> 00:20:41.930 think we had to do a lot of a lot of homework with with data 267 00:20:42.130 --> 00:20:48.890 in terms of looking at studies and resource it showed really GPA and and high 268 00:20:48.930 --> 00:20:52.759 school rank and these other metrics that we can get from a high school transcript. 269 00:20:52.799 --> 00:20:56.839 It's literally based on three or four years as opposed to a standardized test 270 00:20:56.839 --> 00:21:00.359 score that's based on three or four hours. Truly is a better predictor. 271 00:21:00.880 --> 00:21:07.390 So when we made the decision to go test optional, we had to we 272 00:21:07.509 --> 00:21:11.309 had to sell it or market it externally, but we also had to sell 273 00:21:11.390 --> 00:21:17.910 it internally to yeah, and and and convinced faculty that this student that we're 274 00:21:17.950 --> 00:21:23.019 considering through this new holistic review process really is not only going to be a 275 00:21:23.099 --> 00:21:27.180 good fit but is going to be a contributor, is going to be successful 276 00:21:27.660 --> 00:21:32.619 in the classroom. So so it really is kind of a both and approach. 277 00:21:32.779 --> 00:21:34.529 We yes, we had to market it externally, but but we did 278 00:21:34.650 --> 00:21:40.369 have to do some work internally to convince faculty. And again, well, 279 00:21:40.930 --> 00:21:44.130 we'll know when it comes to fall spring. You know what our fault of 280 00:21:44.170 --> 00:21:48.559 Spring retention is and we're going to be very, very methodical about going through 281 00:21:48.559 --> 00:21:51.960 the data and making sure the decisions that we made were the right ones. 282 00:21:52.359 --> 00:21:55.559 That's that's fascinating. That's great. I love the fact that it's it takes 283 00:21:55.599 --> 00:21:59.160 internal marketing sometimes as much as it takes externals. So I want to pivot 284 00:21:59.200 --> 00:22:00.509 really quick before we kind of close up and everything, and just talk a 285 00:22:00.549 --> 00:22:03.190 little bit at the very beginning. You talked about HBU and some of the 286 00:22:03.269 --> 00:22:07.509 diversity issues and I just wanted to kind of touch based on that because I 287 00:22:07.710 --> 00:22:11.230 think that, you know, it's naturally occurred on your campus with with diversity 288 00:22:11.269 --> 00:22:18.579 because of your location and but I think that many schools struggle to to build 289 00:22:18.660 --> 00:22:22.579 diversity and you know, and we've talked to a couple different guests about that, 290 00:22:22.660 --> 00:22:25.500 and I've been in situations where, you know, people have actually said, 291 00:22:25.900 --> 00:22:27.980 can you do some marketing so that we have more diverse students come in 292 00:22:29.140 --> 00:22:32.250 and and I look at their, you know, staff and faculty page and 293 00:22:32.289 --> 00:22:34.529 I'm like, well, you probably need to have more people who are diverse 294 00:22:34.690 --> 00:22:38.529 on your staff before you actually can market more people because that's what that's what 295 00:22:38.569 --> 00:22:41.609 they're going to look for. That's what anybody's going to look for is, 296 00:22:41.769 --> 00:22:44.289 am I going to fit in here? And if they go to your website 297 00:22:44.319 --> 00:22:45.720 and they don't see that they're going to fit in. I don't care how 298 00:22:45.720 --> 00:22:48.279 much marketing that I do. I'm just curious what you think about that. 299 00:22:48.400 --> 00:22:52.720 Is that is I mean, certainly you've been naturally blessed to have that where 300 00:22:52.759 --> 00:22:56.279 you are and I think it's brings a richness to the community. But tell 301 00:22:56.279 --> 00:22:59.390 me about you know, what your what your advice is? Yeah, I 302 00:22:59.470 --> 00:23:03.950 know, I think you're you're absolutely correct, barred and you you've hit the 303 00:23:03.029 --> 00:23:08.549 nail on the head that it really does matter who we hire and and and 304 00:23:08.950 --> 00:23:15.460 I really we don't have a, you know, a specific, you know 305 00:23:15.660 --> 00:23:18.700 metric that we're trying to hit in terms of hiring policies, but I do 306 00:23:18.940 --> 00:23:26.539 have a very diverse team working for me. And so when you know, 307 00:23:26.819 --> 00:23:32.450 when perspective students come to camp us, when they go to our admissions page, 308 00:23:32.849 --> 00:23:37.490 you know when when they're when they're visiting, they they see lots of 309 00:23:37.650 --> 00:23:44.839 students of color and they see admissions counselors from from many different backgrounds and and 310 00:23:45.119 --> 00:23:52.279 so it's it's sometimes it's a challenge, right to really try to connect with 311 00:23:52.440 --> 00:23:57.990 everybody and and find that institutional fit with everybody. But I think it absolutely 312 00:24:00.190 --> 00:24:06.109 begins with and and hiring. Your hiring policies are so, so, so, 313 00:24:06.309 --> 00:24:11.019 so critical. That's great. That's great. I'm glad that you've shared 314 00:24:11.099 --> 00:24:14.619 that with us and that that's what you've found as well. So Great, 315 00:24:15.059 --> 00:24:18.259 James, you've been so generous with your wisdom. But Mart and I are 316 00:24:18.339 --> 00:24:25.849 greedy and every week we ask our guest if there's an additional idea or something 317 00:24:25.930 --> 00:24:30.250 that you've come across that would be an ideal worth sharing to your colleagues that 318 00:24:30.369 --> 00:24:33.890 may be listening to the show. If you could share that please, and 319 00:24:33.049 --> 00:24:37.920 anything that's top of mind. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Thanks, Troy. 320 00:24:37.920 --> 00:24:45.799 I think one of the things that you know, this this this covid 321 00:24:45.880 --> 00:24:48.920 nineteen pandemic, I think has taught us more than anything, and and I 322 00:24:49.039 --> 00:24:52.789 think this is true for all of us in a sense, is it we 323 00:24:53.750 --> 00:24:57.309 we have to fly the plane, and I'm kind of borrowing that that quote 324 00:24:57.549 --> 00:25:02.470 from the movie sully. And you know, it's hard to go wrong with 325 00:25:02.670 --> 00:25:06.990 a with a Clint Eastwood directed movie that that Tom Hanks is starring, and 326 00:25:07.109 --> 00:25:08.500 right it's just hard to go wrong with a movie like that and it's a 327 00:25:08.539 --> 00:25:14.299 true story. But but you know what, everything is blowing up, when 328 00:25:14.460 --> 00:25:18.619 everything is going wrong, you still have to fly the plane right. And 329 00:25:18.779 --> 00:25:22.970 I think that's true for all of us, whether we're in moment managers, 330 00:25:22.569 --> 00:25:29.369 whether we're, you know, chief academic officers, whether we're chief financial officers, 331 00:25:29.769 --> 00:25:36.319 whether we're in marketing or wherever we are. During a pandemic, we 332 00:25:36.880 --> 00:25:41.240 still have to fly the plane right during during a hurricane. We've had two 333 00:25:41.240 --> 00:25:45.240 hurricanes at HBU since I've been here. We still have to fly the plane 334 00:25:45.319 --> 00:25:49.029 right. We may be under water, we may be without power, we 335 00:25:49.470 --> 00:25:55.269 may be all zooming from home and and having to figure out how to do 336 00:25:55.470 --> 00:26:00.990 things virtually but ultimately, you know, we're still called to do everything that 337 00:26:00.109 --> 00:26:04.099 we're supposed to do, and so rick our list of what's happening. You 338 00:26:04.180 --> 00:26:07.579 know, we still have to figure out how to fly the plane. James, 339 00:26:07.619 --> 00:26:11.900 that's wonderful, brilliant and you did a great job of bringing this episode 340 00:26:12.539 --> 00:26:18.569 down for landing. Thank you so much. If someone would like to reach 341 00:26:18.690 --> 00:26:22.049 you, what's the best way for them? To do so, absolutely. 342 00:26:22.250 --> 00:26:26.609 You can ping me or connect on Linkedin. You can certainly shoot me an 343 00:26:26.609 --> 00:26:30.009 email. It it's just first initial, last name, J Stein at hbu 344 00:26:30.210 --> 00:26:36.319 Dot eedu. I'd love to hear from you. Thank you, James Bart 345 00:26:36.400 --> 00:26:40.279 before we depart, do you have any final thoughts? Yeah, I just 346 00:26:40.400 --> 00:26:42.720 wanted to really appreciate everything you said, James, and I just sometimes I 347 00:26:42.799 --> 00:26:45.400 like to just kind of summarize a couple key points for everyone to kind of 348 00:26:45.440 --> 00:26:49.069 think about. I think that a lot of what James talked about. One 349 00:26:49.069 --> 00:26:52.269 of the key points I wanted to kind of point out is that a lot 350 00:26:52.309 --> 00:26:56.349 of times when you're making decisions and making change, you removing the barriers and 351 00:26:56.430 --> 00:27:00.029 then being able to communicate that to the prospective students is very important. I 352 00:27:00.109 --> 00:27:04.380 think marketing that and explaining that sometimes. I'm a big believer that even if 353 00:27:04.420 --> 00:27:08.180 you're on your on your application page or even as you're getting ready to start 354 00:27:08.220 --> 00:27:11.059 the application, explain to them what they're getting ready to, explain to them 355 00:27:11.099 --> 00:27:15.259 how it's going to work, remove any barriers of them wanting to just jump 356 00:27:15.299 --> 00:27:18.250 because they're overwhelmed. But I think the other thing that I will wanted to 357 00:27:18.289 --> 00:27:22.410 point out is that just how HBU really took and had to do some internal 358 00:27:22.450 --> 00:27:25.529 marketing, and I think sometimes we forget about that. I think that we're 359 00:27:25.569 --> 00:27:29.970 so busy and focused as marketers and sometimes we're in small, small offices where 360 00:27:29.970 --> 00:27:33.119 we don't have you know, we're overwhelmed already with the amount of work that 361 00:27:33.200 --> 00:27:36.839 we need to do. But I think that sometimes when big major changes are 362 00:27:36.880 --> 00:27:41.279 happening, especially in the enrollment office, being able to communicate that internally will 363 00:27:41.359 --> 00:27:45.710 save a lot of political headache and heartache later on, and so I think 364 00:27:45.710 --> 00:27:48.349 that's so important to kind of think about how to make sure that our messaging 365 00:27:48.549 --> 00:27:52.390 is coing both ways, both internally and externally. So I really appreciate you 366 00:27:52.470 --> 00:27:55.670 know, you pointing that out, James, and that's just kind of a 367 00:27:55.710 --> 00:28:00.579 key takeaway when everybody to think about. Absolutely well said, Bart and thank 368 00:28:00.660 --> 00:28:04.700 you both for a wonderful episode. To all of our listeners. We just 369 00:28:04.819 --> 00:28:10.259 want to remind you that the Higher Ed Marketer podcast is sponsored by Kaylor solutions 370 00:28:10.539 --> 00:28:15.250 and education marketing and branding agency and by Think, patented, a marketing, 371 00:28:15.329 --> 00:28:19.170 execution, printing and mailing provider of higher its solutions. On behalf of the 372 00:28:19.289 --> 00:28:23.569 COHOST, Bart Kaylor, I'm troy singer. Thank you for joining us. 373 00:28:26.480 --> 00:28:30.359 You've been listening to the Higher Ed Marketer. To ensure that you never miss 374 00:28:30.400 --> 00:28:36.039 an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you're 375 00:28:36.079 --> 00:28:38.519 listening with apple PODCASTS, we'd love for you to leave a quick rating of 376 00:28:38.599 --> 00:28:42.390 the show. Simply tap the number of stars you think the podcast deserves. 377 00:28:44.109 --> 00:28:44.950 Until next time,