A CRM could help higher-ed HBCU leaders use the same revenue-boosting strategies of companies to increase enrollment and retention

Can CRMs help HBCUs achieve recruitment and retention goals?

A CRM could help higher-ed HBCU leaders use the same revenue-boosting strategies of companies to increase enrollment and retention

Although many high school graduates intend to move on to higher education, not all students do–and many of them are low- and moderate-income students who are also students of color. This begs the question: What is higher education doing to help them?

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), however, stand out from other institutions as they serve a student population with twice as many Pell-eligible students and 50 percent more first-generation institutions, according to Scaling the Power of HBCU Connections: Advancing a CRM Network Solution, a new report from the Partnership for Education Advancement.

Citing research from McKinsey, the report highlights the potential impact increased enrollment, retention, and graduation rates at HBCUs could have on boosting the incomes of Black workers–and by association, support Black families, communities, and future HBCU students.

Higher-ed leaders can examine revenue-boosting strategies of companies to examine if those tools and practices could be used to increase enrollment and retention at HBCUS. In particular, a customer relationship management platform (CRM)–used by more than 90 percent of companies with more than employees but by fewer than half of all higher-ed institutions–could help.

A CRM helps organizations know more about what their customers (in higher ed’s case, prospective students) want and need, ensuring that organizations can send them the most relevant information, develop new customers, and improve their bottom line.

“Through the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Digital Transformation (HBCU Dx) initiative, the Partnership for Ed Advancement is enabling colleges to use the same technology that reminds individuals when they’ve left items in a online shopping cart or that it’s time for an eye exam or haircut to help students complete applications, navigate financial aid or sign up for housing,” according to the report. “CRMs can automate time-consuming practices (freeing up staff time for highervalue, student-facing work), connect otherwise siloed data sources, and provide admissions and student support professionals with the data they need to provide outstanding support to students.”

Through a partnership with Slate, a CRM from Technolutions, HBCU Dx gives partner institutions a nearly plug-and-play technology solution that gives HBCUs access to a customizable and powerful CRM without the resource-intensive process of setting it up. “It’s the difference between sewing a stuffed animal from scratch and making one at Build-A-Bear, representing a significant leap in feasibility and accessibility for institutions,” according to the report.

The authors contend that CRMs can improve a range of functions and outcomes in higher ed, including:

  • Improved proactive communication — create personalized drip campaigns reminding students to apply or reminding them of application needs and deadlines; offer higher-touch, proactive outreach to families who may be navigating the college-going process for the first time; raise the immediate fall enrollment rate for high school graduates from the current 43%.
  • Boost enrollment — leverage the unified record of contact information, attributes and touchpoints with each prospect to provide a more personalized admission experience. Enroll more of the up to 40% of college-interested students who don’t matriculate.
  • Drive retention — help student services track and proactively identify students who need outreach and support to retain the 25% of first-time students who currently do not persist from their first to second years.
  • Enhance alumni relations — provide advancement with a single record of alumni profiles, contacts and donations to manage engagement and giving initiatives to increase alumni engagement and giving.

Download the report for an in-depth analysis at how CRMs could help HBCUs reach their goals.

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Laura Ascione