The period between accepting an offer to attend a college or university and the first semester is one of excitement and anticipation, but for many it can also be a scary and overwhelming time. Rowan University was recently awarded a Bronze Excellence award by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) for its commitment to making this period and enrollment process as easy as possible for students.
The term “melt” refers to when students pay a deposit to a university but do not actually show up when classes begin. In order to combat this, Rowan has developed a system that uses data from each department to track each student’s progress and identify when students are at risk of “melting” to offer them support.
“We try to kind of devise a new system to make it as streamlined as possible for applicants to, once they deposit, give them a very clear, easy-to-follow checklist. Make sure that we set up communication to go out for like, drive them through what they need to do next,” said Amanda Coltri, the associate director for Enrollment Systems and Onboarding Operations.
This checklist includes each task that a student may need to complete before attending college, whether it is paperwork, housing plans, dining plans or orientation requirements. What’s unique about Rowan is that each department collaborates with one another to make sure that a student is completing everything.
“We actually have all the data from each of the department’s individual systems… from there, we’re able to kind of track every student’s progress and it gives us much better insight into who’s falling behind,” Coltri said.
This has been a three-year project, and the university is using a phased approach to developing this process.
“We’re starting kind of phase two, which is personalization and gamification of the platform… the kind of incentives to help students finish their requirements are things like personalizing it to them,” Coltri said.
These incentives include earning “badges” for completing requirements. Students are also offered one-on-one meetings and text messaging campaigns. This is to further ensure that students are able to complete everything they need to and do and that starting the semester can be less overwhelming.
Cole Marshall is a sophomore computer science major who transferred to Rowan in Fall 2022. He found that completing his requirements before school started last semester was easy and straightforward.
“As a transfer, I expected the application process to be so much harder. Because I’m like, ‘Oh, they have to transfer my credits. Like, I have to make sure I’m taking all the classes I still need to take.’ But it was very easy and all the questions I asked, they were pretty good with answering,” Marshall said.
Marshall also noted that when he was completing the different requirements, the statuses of the documents were provided to him as well.
“When I would submit things — say I submitted my transcript, it would even tell me if it was reviewed… when it would get approved or if it was the right document… So it also let me know that everything I was doing was going through, so there was no miscommunication,” Marshall said.
Even though students going through this process are not physically on campus yet, the enrollment department emphasizes that they are still very invested in the students.
“Everyone really cares about the students and we’re working really hard to ensure that every student who wants to come to Rowan is able to get here,” Coltri said.
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