April 18, 2023

Ensuring Enrollment Deposit Success: The Importance of Close Engagement Between Colleges, Students and Families


Jose Flores

Sending a deposit to a college or university is a significant milestone for students and their families. It represents a commitment to furthering their education and investing in their future. However, once the deposit is sent, colleges and universities need to continue working closely with students and their families to ensure a positive and successful experience.

Unfortunately, families can face challenges when trying to contact admissions, billing, and financial aid departments. As a parent sending my daughter off to college, I found the process daunting. We sent her deposit to the college of her choice in early April, eagerly anticipating her arrival in the fall. However, we received a templated email telling us that she had no room on campus. As first-time freshmen, the idea of finding an off-campus facility was daunting, especially since my daughter was coming from 2000 miles away.

Desperate to find a solution, I tried to contact the admissions department to plead my case, but all I received in return was another templated email stating that there were no rooms available. This situation forced us to send another deposit to an institution that had assured housing for freshmen, which meant we had double deposited. Even trying to reach billing and financial aid was difficult. The college had three online portals, which only made things more confusing. I felt lost and disconnected from the institution, with no clear channels for communication or support.

My experience highlights the critical importance of close engagement between colleges and universities and their students and families, particularly after the deposit has been sent. It can be especially challenging for first-time freshmen to navigate the housing situation and feel fully engaged in campus life. Additionally, the lack of clear communication channels and support from the institution only added to my frustration and confusion.

I strongly believe that colleges and universities need to establish clear communication channels and dedicated staff members who can provide ongoing support and guidance throughout the college journey. This could include online resources like videos and webinars, as well as one-on-one support through phone and email. By working closely with students and their families, colleges and universities can help ensure the college experience is positive and successful for all involved.

One effective way to establish close engagement is to put someone in charge of curating this experience. This person could work closely with the admissions team and be responsible for ensuring that students and their families receive ongoing support and guidance throughout their college journey. By having a dedicated point person, colleges and universities can ensure that students and their families have access to the resources and support they need to be successful.

Another effective strategy is to use online engagement tools like VisitDays to assist with early intervention. For example, some colleges and universities have developed online pre-orientation programs that include live sessions, necessary documents, and videos for students. These programs can provide students and their families with valuable information about the college experience, including academic programs, campus life, financial aid, and support services.

Austin Peay State University, for example, has developed a comprehensive online pre-orientation program through VisitDays that provides students and their families with a wealth of information about the university and its resources. The program includes live sessions with university staff and faculty, as well as a library of videos and other materials that cover a wide range of topics related to college life.

By establishing close engagement with students and their families and providing ongoing support and guidance throughout the college journey, colleges and universities can help to ensure that students remain enrolled and engaged over the long term. This can lead to greater success and satisfaction for students, as well as a stronger relationship between the institution and its community. Ultimately, the success of a college or university is measured by the success of its students, and close engagement with students and their families is critical to achieving that success.