Minding the Gap: creating a blueprint for enrollment success

At some point in my enrollment career, I received an innocuous refrigerator magnet with the British subway reminder to “Mind the Gap”. That magnet never made it home, rather it stayed affixed to various metallic surfaces in my office. I carried it with me for the greater portion of a 26-year career serving admissions and financial aid offices at five different institutions. Whenever stretched too thin, pouring over data, balancing budgets, or unearthing missed opportunities; with just a glance the magnet’s reminder would re-center and inspire me. I became adept at solving problems from different directions and watching for policies and tactics that created barriers for my teams and our students – those we were attracting and those we had yet to reach. 

While I wanted to be vigilant at all times, the daily demands of the roles I held were persistent distractions. What remained constant were the ever-present gaps in access to or movement through enrollment and retention funnels that, when left unattended, could lead to the loss – of resources, personnel, and the very student communities we were passionate about serving.

Gaps were everywhere, of all sizes, and at all times. The widest ones were labeled ‘fires’, garnering the attention, time, and resources for solutions. Gaps in technology seemed to always outpace teams and resources, creating a sense of urgency to keep up with the latest CRM, website widget, or digital campaign. Gaps across campus and org charts produced disjointed goals and tactics whose results would often breed confusion. We longed for a strategy that made the best use of the various skills and talents within our offices, the myriad of resources available, and the tools at our disposal.

When I joined NewCity I was introduced to the idea of a service blueprint, which is a great place for any enrollment team to start building this kind of strategy. A service blueprint maps out a customer journey in one row, with all the visible and behind-the-scenes human actions and technologies required to deliver the experience shown in rows below it. Teams use them to identify strengths, spot gaps, and make better decisions about where to focus. Once you have the process mapped it can also be a great tool for training new team members.

Attention paid to the graduate student enrollment journey is one of those familiar gaps often caused by siloed teams and compressed resources.  Many schools are looking to graduate programs as a growth opportunity, but the enrollment experience is often disjointed due to the need for coordinated efforts across graduate admissions and individual departments. This example from a graduate student enrollment service blueprint shows what support processes are likely to be most critical, when behind-the-scenes actions must be completed, and where enrollment teams are best positioned to facilitate the engagements that propel a prospective graduate student toward your institution.

We’ve developed journey maps and service blueprints with many of our clients, and we realized it would be helpful to bring together the things we’ve learned into starter versions that represent common aspects of the enrollment journey. We’re making our Graduate Enrollment Service Blueprint and starter questions available as a free download initially. You can download it below and sign up to be notified when our undergraduate version is available.

Remember – a good service blueprint is based on research with your actual audiences and reflects your current or proposed processes. We hope this will spark some new thinking for your team.

NewCity’s Enrollment Strategy team are experts in minding the gap. We center your students, parents, and staff at the heart of our initiatives and work to not only identify the gaps but to shore up the barriers to success. We leverage the power of your digital tools; CRM, communication plans, and website, to shape an experience that attracts prospective students and reinvests the efforts of your talented enrollment teams.

NewCity offers a variety of scalable solutions to address the unique challenges enrollment leaders are facing today. We’ve been partnering with our college and university clients to help them to mind the gap, innovate practices, and most importantly – create digital transformations that help you in the work of attracting and retaining the students you serve. 

Reach out to schedule a call with Robynne to discuss how NewCity can help you to mind the gaps within your enrollment efforts.

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