The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode · 1 year ago

Student Success = Institution Success


Higher education is like marriage. Once you’re hitched, if you stop investing in the relationship, you can’t be surprised if it doesn’t last. 

Student success needs to be the constant, single focus of higher ed marketers to attract the right-fit students who will both stay and succeed.  

In this episode, we interview Nate Simpson , Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, about reprioritizing student success. 

Join us as we discuss:

- Reimagining the role of VP of Enrollment

- How to get colleges student-ready

- Recruiting students who will stay and succeed

- Helping students achieve what they want to achieve 

Related Episodes:

Ep. 21 w/ Mary Barr 

To hear more interviews like this one, subscribe to Higher Ed Marketer on Apple Podcasts , Spotify , or your preferred podcast platform.  

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Higher Ed Marketer in your favorite podcast player.

My biggest tip is that student success, achieving seeing students achieve their goals is nine times that at ten is to get a better career isn't something that you can proxy to another department within your institution. You are listening to the Higher Ed Marketer, a podcast geared towards marketing professionals in higher education. This show will tackle all sorts of questions related to student recruitment, donor relations, marketing trends, new technologies and so much more. If you are looking for conversations centered around where the industry is going, this podcast is for you. Let's get into the show. Welcome to the Higher Ed Marketer podcast. I'm troy singer here with Bart Taylor, and every week we do our best to interview higher Ed marketers that we admire that the whole high ed marketer community can benefit from. Today we have the pleasure of interviewing Nate Simpson. He's the senior program officer for the bill and Melind the gates foundation and has a passionate role in regard to making sure students are successful and working with institutions to make sure that their incoming students and all of the students are successful. Yeah, I think that it's a great conversation and as you're listening to the natives, very passionate guy and he has a lot to share and I think that as you start listening to it, start listening to it through the perspective as as a higher dbarketer or maybe somebody enrollment. How can you take what he's talking about with student success, which a lot of times, I think enrollment sees, oh, that's that's student life's issue or that's somebody else's issue, because, you know, I once I hand them off during matriculation, then we're done. I think he makes a really good argument, a really good persuasive points about the fact that everyone on campus, and especially us as marketers and enrollment folks, should be focused on the success of the students, and so I think he really brings a lot of really good points to be sure to listen to that. Absolutely Bart and I think, unlike a lot of our other guests, you can utilize him and the foundation as a resource. So please keep that in mind and maybe ways that you can reach out to him or work with the foundation in the future. Without further ado, let's bring in nate. It is my pleasure to welcome Nate Simpson, senior program officer for the bill of Melinda Gates Foundation, to the Higher Ed Marketer podcast. And Nate, before we get into our conversation, if you could give our listeners what the mission is of the Gates Foundation and your role within the foundation. Yeah, so I'm excited to be on the PODCAST and super glad that I was able to be a guest and I'm excited that this is the chance to explore and talk more with your audience. So, yeah, the billimal end the gates foundation is a foundation that has multiple parts. It has areas that are focused on parts of the globe and other countries across the world, but then within the US we are very focused on supporting improvements around education, and so there are parts of that that goes from early learning all the way up to post secondary, and the team that I focused in our sit on is our post secondary success team, and I also sit on a team that is focused on improving the connection between education employment and so I've been doing that for the past five years and the work that I do is very focused on, more or less in a very simple way on the post secondary team, is to help institutions learn and discuss or figure out ways to see improvements around students success and make sure that races and a predictor of completion at the same time.

So certainly interested as a as a foundation and seeing how that can be done, and we've seen work that it can be done, and see how we can get about over three hundred institutions to and partners who help the institutions to make these type of changes, to do it at a much broader scale, and so that's what we do, that's what I support as a team working on and I'm super excited to talk more about what we've learned and just continue to just have this conversation. I'm a higher Ed Nerd at heart. I've worked in higher aid for many, many years and I have seen I haven't, I wouldn't say I've seen everything, but I have seen and experienced it and super glad that, I mean went to bring into the foundation and to talk about it, about our perspective as well. That's great. Thank you, nate. To appreciate that introduction and I know that you and I have known each other for a few years and I know that you know big part of that idea of success for students has like you said, access for them to higher education, regardless of any issues that might typically be in the way, but then also making sure that the the internal workings of the school are able to, you know, be fostered for that success. And I know that in our previous conversation we talked a little bit about the idea of how how the roles of vice president of enrollment have kind of, you know, evolved over the years, I should say. I mean I was actually presenting to a board, a college board, today, on on some of their marketing and try to help them understand that. You know, historically market and used to fall under advancement and and now you know, many times it's moved over to the enrollment side because of just the nature of the competition of bringing in students and things. But I think you've seen over your career and even even your time at the Gates Foundation, of what you know. What do you think this reimagining of the vice president of enrollment and sometimes enrollment in marketing, how does that kind of play into all of this from access and success standpoint? Yeah, that's a good question. By I mean because from what I've seen working at the foundation and even my time in at an institution. Was Really Fascinating about their question is the fact that, yes, higher it has had a history and I would even argue post World War II. This focus so on just making sure that folks have access, and what we've learned from the foundation recently and Meni Institution Cross country is that, you know, access isn't enough and really about not only making it accessible but then also, when they get in, that you're helping them actually to succeed and achieve what they're hoping to accomplish. And so we we have certainly made a lot of effort around supporting movements and some call of completion agenda and stuff like that to get hired to meet his commitment to what it says that it does for its students. The point of all that those like what? What that implies, though, is that institutions have to do things differently right or make some modifications, and one of those is the reality that there's a lot of individuals and humans who work an institution and even though you are in even to your example, you could be working on marketing and not think that you know the student success or completion agenda has anything to do with your roll. But what we've seen is that's just far from not being true. I mean it's intrically connected and it's because of the fact that it does require an institution at the heart of what it does to Redo everything. And I think even to your point about like telling a board that you know, yes, you probably have a marketing responsibility, but that marketing, you know, capability or capacity, is in the wrong space and it's it's intention should be connected to not only...

...enrollment. The other part about enrollment, I've seen it too within the Roman space, is that many VPS, I would argue, are realizing that their enrollment isn't just about getting them in, it's also getting them in and set up for success so that they can actually complete. And many institutions have even expanded the enrollman concept about just thinking about what the overall experience is going to be for the student. Once you get them in, then how do you make sure they stay in, and then how do you make sure that they continue to learn and they will eventually complete like that is in my mind, some institutions have just moved in that direction and as a foundation we're here to see not only what have they done, what do they do, but also how can we help others to do the same thing? I think that's great. I've seen a lot of schools that kind of they miss them boat because one they pass off a student way too early in the in the process, to student life, yeah, or to the registrar whomever. Yeah, and so that relationship that was built along the way, you know, in the in the in the prospective student journey, they it gets just cut off and it's like all the sudden, you know, come, come, move in weekend. You know they hey, they've really developed a great relationship with the folks and enrollment and but no longer do they have that relationship. And so I think your point to retention and success, I mean kind of sometimes those words are put together. Sometimes there's distinct differences between them. There is an ongoing you know, ongoing I hate to use the word marketing, but there is an ongoing communication and marketing. That's the responsibility of the schools to make sure that that student continues to understand the benefits, continues to understand the support, continues to understand that. Mean it's one thing to just get them into the end of the relationship. It's another one to keep it. It's a little bit like so many times I tell my schools when I see big you know, apply now buttons, you know, on the very first commuunication with a student, I'm like, okay, do you realize it? We're kind of like we're dating and on the first date you're asking somebody to marry you. We've got to woo somebody and we've got to kind of earn that and then, and then you can take that analogy even further and saying, okay, once they matriculate, okay, the weddings over. Well, you've got to continue into that relationship and continue to build that relationship. Just because you're married now doesn't mean that you know, everything's peach a king going forward. So we've got to kind of keep in mind that we have that constant woo to keep them there and keep them engaged in succeeding until they graduate, and even there I would argue that as an alumni, you want to continue that going on to build that relationship. So yeah, no, I mean the series vote with their feet right, like you have to sit back and wonder, like why is it that? Or and I mean we've I've seen, I've seen with some institutions or that are making a lot of headweight. When they get a chance to look at their data, they're asking themselves was type of questions of like like why aren't they coming back? What? But see what I've seen in those are heard about those sessions and read about and support, is the fact that many of the Times they it's not just that ir person is looking at the data or the president or the chancellor. It's like there's a team, and I would argue that team is including the BP of enrollment and marketing to discuss, you know, what is happening when it comes to you know, we had a class that entered with, you know, a thousand students and then come, you know, spring or fall next year, we're down to five hundred. Like everyone needs to start asking that question, not just one part of the institution. Everybody needs to ask or even offer, you know, if I am the VP of student services asking bp a Rome, like what do I need to do to help make sure that when you bring into students, that your students, because we all did the student Qui as it got the students don't change right like it doesn't. Now there's a new student that is going from the VP of Enrollans, roll to...

...the BP of Student Service. It's the same. It's the same student. So it's really critical that there's teens including the marketing and in that capacity or capability with the institution, looking at the data and understanding like what is happening or why isn't it that we don't see, and even making sure that it's disact disegregated by by race and socio econom status, so you can understand like at the route what is really going on. And I've seen a lot of articles, we've done research. I think I've also realized it's just I mean sometimes as a high level administrator, you just have to genuinely care and be curious about wanting the students to be there and wanted them see them again so and to see them succeed. Now to say a lot of folks are not interested in doing that, but you know, when you put that in front, it kind of comes off and you realize, I do want them to stay and if you, you know, use that mindset, you start to read do a lot of stuff when it comes to and or you start having some more prioritized conversations about what is really important, what's not necessary. At the same level when it comes to other things. I think that's a great point and I know, troll, you've got a question, but just to kind of follow up on that for a moment. The idea that I see a lot of schools they're looking at the data and they're not starting with what you're saying. How can we make sure these students succeed? And so a lot of smaller private college a lot of times struggle with this role is that they try to recruit everybody and every every everyone, and then they realize that, okay, these students aren't necessarily mission fit, whether they're, you know, whether they're a type of school that maybe it is a religious background school or maybe there are specialty type school where they've offer certain types of programs. They bring in all these students for the sake of getting the numbers and rather than starting with how can we make sure that we recruit students who are going to succeed all the way through, and so I think that's a mission fit is such a huge part of that at the beginning to yeah, I mean like mission fit for me is always something that kind of like strikes a nerve because it's kind of like continues to perpetuate this belief that students are supposed to be college ready, and he said, of really that the colleges should be student ready. And so it's like if you did all the work to make sure that they actually dig or recruited in and roll at your institution. You shouldn't do this like Baden switch moment where it's like, Oh, we got you in and now you know, good luck. It's it's more about like you took the effort, you spent a lot of time and money and trying to figure out how that's to make would actually come in and enroll. My assumption is you did all that because even then you wanted them to continue, and so maybe you should continue doing things to make sure they that they do get the thing that you said that you wanted them to have when you were trying to get them to come to your institution. I mean, that just makes logical sense to me. I would even argue, well, and I know I might, you know, gut, tar and feather for this, but you know, higher institutions aren't the only, you know, quote unquote, types of organizations that provide services, and you look at other service providers lay they take on that responsibility very seriously and you know, in students are consumers and they can vote with their feet and some ways their money and go someplace who actually is going to provide them the service at that they're looking for. Well, nate, that kind of touches on a maybe there should be a changing of perspective of we always think of higher ed saying you should be grateful that we accepted you into our institution. Would you say that that should change and it should be more of we are grateful that you accepted and we're going to do everything that we can to make sure that you succeed and that you feel welcomed. Yes, I think it is a like a massive shift in mindset. I mean, I don't me wrong, I'm not saying that higher education is the only part of the educational system in the United States that...

...needs to adopt that way of thinking. That said, I think that higher education is necessarily becoming more aware that that way of thinking isn't just doesn't preclude them right. It's become very obvious that we should have the same mindset. Also, I'm not saying that there's some folks who are worked and high it for a long time, who have always had that mindset. But what I think about, What's interesting about that point is that, yes, there's definitely pockets of that that exists within institutions, but I think that those individuals, those pockets, actually need to move towards the center of what institutions do. And I have we have worked with institutions in many types, from small liberal arts to large research one institutions, and what we have seen through all of those types is you start seeing changes when, even if you're part of a group of institution that has a mission to, you know, generate and deliver sound research, for name it for the United States, when you start putting students at the center of the work, you can still achieve it. So, like I've seen this thought process that's like student success and research one and starch responsibilities are are are polar opposites, and it's like no, it's not, and many institutions have shown you if you put the student at the center, you can still achieve your research responsibility just as much, if not more, and many ways. And then it's like the return on investment will start to yield a self, not only naturally but intentionally, and you can start, you know, predicting it on so many levels. I totally think that that mindset is is, it's been, or it's necessary for education in the US. It's been there for K twelve. You could talk to early learning how to think pult secondary and higher institutions thought that that didn't apply to them and some even argue, Oh, I've always saw that way. But you know, I don't know if the data really proves that out. You could even look at some of the data from the National Student Clearing House with that's come out as result of covid nineteen, demonstrating that many students we have graduated from the class of two thousand and twenty have delayed going into higher education in two thousand and twenty one. I mean there's research out there showing that there's a desire to resolve it. But you could argue maybe some of that isn't necessarily a bad thing, because you can say, well, they need to make sure they're going to place. End to your point, troy, that you're grateful and wanted them to come and so you know, just because you're they as me, they're going to they're going to come and maybe you should do a little effort to get them and make sure that you give them what they said that or give them the thing that you said you're going to get done, which is success. And I like to I just want to add on to that little bit the fact that I think that so many times in the marketing that's that's sorely missed is that we want you to succeed here, you know. I mean we talk a lot about the benefits. We talked a lot about, you know, selling our distinctive. The marketing. Mean we recognize, especially for small privates, that, you know, people have a lot of choices, and even even for the public's I mean, everybody has a choice. We're trying to, you know, persuade them on why we are the best choice, but I think at the end of the day, especially generation Z, many times they want to know that, hey, you've got your we've got your back, we're going to make sure that you succeed. You're not just going to be a number here. I mean I hear a lot of small private liberal arts talking about, you know, we have professors who are, you know, mentors and things like that. I think the marketing many times has to kind of start talking that way and start expressing that desire that we we do want to see you succeed. We don't you're not just a number, even though we know your name. We still...

...want you to succeed. So I think that's that's a good point. I mean, my experience has been and I graduated from our house college and it's Hbcu. All Mao blackmails. He's only one in the country and I vividly remember moments being on campus where, if I did not go to class like my I would have to take a different route to go to to certain spots because I knew I by work walk my normal way, I was going to go past my instructor or professor's office and she would or not. It wasn't her office. Who was her? where she part and so if I if I walked in that direction, I knew she was going to see me. Or am I running to or so I would just go the other way. The point of all this is the fact that yes, or I've seen it. It's real and I think even institutions who are really large had the same thing. They can do it and the data shows that it can be done. Their many institutions we've seen. We we like have their frontier set as a initiative that is coming to a close, but we worked with some top institutions who they able to show with big numbers of students who do exactly that, and it creates this experience that makes a difference for students to show up and for them to succeed and, friend to actually achieve what they want. Many of them, I would argue, it's because they want a better career or, I would say, even the agency to choose what they want without having to be an agency. Comes to the ability to choose options being available and not having them be very limited. so in everything shows so far the best way that that's going to happen right now, especially if, I would argue, if your minoritized population, your best bet is to have a post secondary credential and that's the only way you're going to get, you know, all the options made available to you. May thank you very much for all of the information that you've shared today. On behalf of the mission of the Gates Foundation and a strong more house man that has been in higher education for a while. Is there one tip that you could give high red marketers that they could take away that would be beneficial to them? Yes, which is something that I have seen with this. My biggest tip is that student success, achieving seeing students achieve their goals is nine times ed at ten is to get a better career isn't something that you can proxy to another department within your institution. It's it's your responsibility just as anyone else's within the institution as well. And you know the moments where you're like that, that student success team or committee or whatever you want to call it, you may go, oh, that's all, you know, BP affairs, I don't have anything to do with that. I need to find I need to make sure you know my I improved my yields Um from last year, like, I can't focus on that, like you have got like that. Has To stop. Like the the students success committee includes you, Um, and make sure you go to those meetings, because the student that you are cohort, that you brought in, it is a great opportunity for you to actually understand why you're yields don't look the way they did and you could probably get some better insights and then not necessarily start changing how you begin to recruit or changing or recruiting strategy, but understand that you are demonstrating through your presence, that it's important and that you're going to find better ways to make sure that the cohort has an experience and that you're not necessarily give an experience that's not something that you can...

...actually return on. So go to those meetings, talk to them, be part of it and don't give it away. I mean, and that's coming from a person that's been involved in practitioner. I worked at a Community College. I know this. Eighteenzero things you're doing all at once. You are you're a hero with Cape on your back that folks don't even notice, but you gotta do it. Nay, thank you so much for that and we appreciate that small but powerful nuggetting everything that you've shared. My guess is there are a lot of other services and knowledge that someone could come to you for. What's the best way to reach you for those who would like to do so? Yeah, so I my best recommendation is to always take a look at the Billa Molona gay foundations website. The site has had an overhaul for anyone who has probably seen you in the past, but it's their sections now. Specific are our work in the US run education, specifically the Post Secondary Site. I totally recommend anybody take a look at that and to get any more information about what the foundation is working on. We also have a post secondary I think on that same site. I know you can. You can sign up for our post secondary success newsletter, and so I totally recommend that and get more information and also recommend on the point about higher education gain access to or being part of providing more value for students, I totally recommend folks to look at our vow the Value Commission work that we supported, just post secondary value dot org, where you can learn more about what the value commission that group discover about the value of high education in the US. Super Informational. Super Great has a definition, has metrics and I think at some point there's going to be like a much better view of college score card that takes into count more data that the college score card from the Department of it doesn't provide at this point. So totally recommend pose take a look at it on when it comes aatable at that site and me, you can find me on Linkedin or I'm also on twitter as well as super available to have those conversations as well. Thank you, nate, for your time and all the information that you are providing to our community. Bart do you have any parting words before we sign off for the episode? Yeah, I just wanted to kind of highlight a couple things that I heard and nate talked about it. Really, as a marketers, I think that we need to kind of lean into this as the idea of how do we make sure that we not only market to woo people in, but how do we also woo them to stay and with them to succeed, and I think that nate had some really good options there. I think as marketers sometimes we find ourselves a little bit maybe off the beaten path with regular students. Maybe there's an intern in the office, maybe there's not, but I think many times marketers and hireed tends to kind of be a little bit more of Hey, we're in our little niche of the of the university and we're just kind of doing our thing. I think nate made some really good points of being an intentional marketer to start learning, start engaging with students, start engaging with those opportunities, whether it's the committee meetings or things like that. You know, interject yourself into that because as a marketer you're going to learn more ways to communicate the benefits of your institution the more that you are understanding how your institution is helping those students succeed. And so I'm reminded of a conversation we had with Mary Bar from Ball State University and how she's intentional to spend time with students on a regular basis. And I remember a couple of our, you know, leaders and marketing that we've had on the podcast have talked about carving out time on a regular basis to just sit down with students, with parents, to just help understand what makes them tick, what how they're succeeding and things like that. And so I really would encourage our marketers to just take into what nate said really spend some time engaging with students helping them succeed and and that's really going to change...

...the nature of what you're doing as a marketer. Well said, bar right. Thanks Nat. Thank you both. The High Ed Marketer podcast is sponsored by Kaylor solutions and education marketing branding agency and by thing patented, a marketing, execution, printing and mailing provider of Higher Ed Solutions. On behalf of Bart Taylor. I'm Troye singer. Thank you for joining us. You've been listening to the Higher Ed Marketer. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you're listening with apple PODCASTS, we'd love for you to leave a quick rating of the show. Simply tap the number of stars you think the podcast deserves. Until next time,.

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