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How To Find And Engage New Student Populations
Zach Busekrus: [00:00:00] Hey folks. Welcome to Enrollify’s latest podcast series, The Modern Student. The Modern Student, is a special podcast series that explores how technology is revolutionizing higher ed and engaging students. This special series is brought to you by our friends at Squiz. Squiz is a technology company that is revolutionizing the way higher ed builds digital experiences for its constituents.
The modern student is hosted by me, Zach Busekrus from Enrollify, and Jeff Dillon, a senior consultant at Squiz. This series will explore how the modern student is shaping the future of education. How to find and engage new student populations, why marketing and IT and higher ed need each other, and the future of technology in higher ed.
You can learn more about the incredible work Squiz is doing and explore their client case firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can connect with Jeff on LinkedIn via the link in the show notes below. [00:01:00] All right, without further ado, welcome to the Modern Student.
All right, sir. We're live with episode two of this special series. How you doing today, man? I'm great, Zach. How are you? I am doing well. I am excited for this conversation, which piggybacks off the last conversation we had, just thinking through sort of how, how technology is continuing to change the way that we think about student recruitment change.
The way in which we think about, uh, delivering education, thinking differently. It's dramatically changing the way in which we deliver our programming at schools, the way that students are, are learning and whatnot. And as we were discussing about last. Higher education is like for so many, for so many reasons, many, many obvious reasons.
Pretty like slow adopters when it comes to, uh, new technology, new ways of thinking, new ways of learning, et cetera. And we're, we're sort of at this [00:02:00] like really interesting inflection point, uh, in, in history where the value proposition of higher ed has never been under. More scrutiny. Uh, there's, uh, this enrollment cliff that everyone keeps talking about, right?
Um, regardless of kind of like where you fall in, in that thinking, it's, there are, you know, students, not non-traditional students, um, are, are dwindling the way that, in which we think about kind of traditional student recruitment is changing, yada, yada, yada. So now, right, we're, we're in this moment where like schools can't really afford to not take technology seriously.
And really just more broadly speaking, schools can't afford to not. Radical change, right? Like we're living in this moment where it's, it's like a make or break moment, um, I would say in the industry. And so what I really wanted to talk through today and and get your thoughts on are kind of this, this, uh, like the digital tools that schools use and have historically used, the ways in which schools have thought about technology, its purposes, its use [00:03:00] cases, uh, what their, what their, uh, tech stacks have traditionally looked like.
And then, Really pick your brain about what does the future look like? Like how do schools need to be reframing, rebuilding their technology stacks, Uh, and what are some like practical ways for folks to, to start doing that? So that's a very big, broad topic, but I'm hoping to unpack some of that with you today.
Jeff Dillon: That's, that's what I want to talk about because, you know, this is the series because we have such a. Um, a great amount of content and a complex, you know, topic to talk about. So I think before we get into the tools, you touched on, you kind of set the stage there, and we talked about this in the first episode, and I think that we talked a little bit about what's holding school back.
I had a conversation with the school, um, about a month or two ago. Okay. Um, and when I was talking to him, he, he realized himself but wasn't developer, he wasn't a CIO or anything about, you know, what, what's holding him, his, him back in, in his role. At his school [00:04:00] was, nobody saw the big picture. Hmm. Even the vice president level, except for maybe a cio.
Those student affairs, Vice presidents and advancement and you know, they, they're visionaries and they're doing what they can, but they don't know the tools available. They can't keep up. It's not their job. Yeah. And so really everyone is trying to upgrade their own silo and trying to do their best. And like our silo needs to be upgrade.
We need the system, we need the latest and greatest. So he, he just realized like there is nobody, depending on the level of your CIO and how much experience they have, it kind of really goes to that person. And so we really need to talk to everyone in the organization can be that champion and to kind of like say, Hey, this is what's available.
So I just wanted to, to kind of set the stage to, and kind of build on that. And it, it's this complexity that we have. If you look at back in the day, Yeah, 10, 20 years. A CIO might have an l. Um, they would have an lms. Yep. An sis, um, a data warehouse maybe. Um, maybe they were [00:05:00] looking at a portal. Yeah, right.
They have these big enterprise systems. They're thinking about what's the latest and greatest, How do, how do I maybe dump it into my data warehouse and look at 20 years fast. Fast forward 20 years, 15 years or so, I created a piece of content. It's periodic table of technology and it has a hundred categories of software, which basically companies have.
Their business on. Yeah, so an SIS maybe was trying to be a crm, trying to be an, you know, a student application for admission. Um, trying to be a, um, a notification tool. But since it couldn't do it so well, these little industries have popped up. These companies that are doing that specific, Yeah. Um, and with, with like a content management system, the same thing?
Yeah. Some of 'em have forum builders, they have search engines built up, built in, um, but they don't do it well enough, so you have to buy the best of breed. So it's happened so fast. You know, the web directors know right? The web director level kind of knows what's going on, so, It's really leveraging your whole [00:06:00] organization.
Um, you know, I think we wanna talk a little bit about that tech stack, but it's, it's just the evolution is really hard to keep up with. Yeah. You know?
Zach Busekrus: Yeah. And I would imagine too that like, there's also a generational thing that I, that I feel like is, is also happening where you've got like these. These legacy folks, um, you know, many, many of whom might be faculty members that have like incredible control over all these things.
And, and quite frankly, they just don't understand. Not all of them, many of them do. Right. And this is, this is no dig on anybody in particular, but like there is just this generational thing where if you did not grow up as a digital native using these tools with these expectations for immediacy, right?
For, for clarity, for being able to access information in whatever format from whatever device you, you. At whatever time trying to communicate to the powers that be within the context of an institution, that these sorts of tools are, are needed, and or the things that we currently have are fine, but they're not enough or, or they're not fine and we need something better.
The, I just [00:07:00] feel like there's still just an incredible amount of friction here in, in our industry primarily because of, you know, Things like governance and, and just quite frankly, like who, who still kind of holds like the, the keys of power at this juncture. I, I'd be curious, like, are, are you seeing that, did you see that in the context of, of the institutions that, that you've worked at previously?
Like is that a dynamic that's, that's true and valid, or is that more of just like, eh, yeah, yeah, that exists, but it's not as, it's not like a, a primary point of friction.
Jeff Dillon: Yeah, I, I definitely think, um, there is a generational thing, you know, higher ed tends to keep their people a long time until, you know, there's been a drain in the last 10 years or so.
But, um, you know, they get used to their tools and get set in their ways and yeah, that's, that's kind of what, what we're all kind of aware of. Um, One example I like to bring up is, is I've never really been deep into the academic side. I've been highly into the administrative side. Yeah, I've managed an LMS team.
Um, but as far as like working [00:08:00] directly with faculty, I haven't done a lot of that. But when the pandemic hit and we all had to start teaching virtually, um, I was having meetings where I would show my content behind my head in my in, you know, And, and there's a few tools that do this. It wasn't that hard, but when I did that in a meeting with some faculty and some other people, they were like blown away.
They're like, How are you doing that ? You know? And, and I'm like, It. They used to own the classroom. Right. I couldn't go in and LEC and use the chalkboard. I wasn't good at that. Yeah. But the classroom has changed so that you can lean on some IT people and you don't know what to, You didn't know that was possible.
Yeah. And it's not that hard. Yeah. But it's something that's so critical to be able to, to, you know, my example is that someone shouldn't have to choose between seeing your face and seeing the content. So why don't we just use these tools that merge it together for you? Yeah. You know, and, and so, Right. You don't, when you don't know the question to ask, you just need to lean on the right people and.
You know, sometimes that's hard for people who are just, who have done the same thing for so long. Maybe you have a process yourself that says, [00:09:00] Hey, maybe every semester, so I should check in with someone and have them review what I'm doing and see if there's a better way to do it, or, you know, that's even difficult sometimes.
But I like to talk about that one.
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That's a really good example. Um, , it's funny, I also think that like the, the silo thing that you were just talking about before, there are also just these, these great evolutions in, in needs, right? And like different departments. Have different amounts of funding, quite frankly, and different amounts of, you know, uh, internal, internal resources.
And I think that like things like marketing technology for instance, right? Like generally speaking, depending on institutional context, like I think this is happening more and more, but marketing used to be like, You know, roped into either enrollment management or, or advancement. Right. And it was kind of like the, the, you know, ugly redheaded, like [00:12:00] stepchild, right?
Within the context of an institution. I think that marketing's kind of grown. They've boxed out a little bit, right? They've, they've, they've in more, more institutional context than ever before. They do have a seat at the table, all this stuff. But from a funding standpoint too, institutions might support larger brand initiatives, but in terms of like performance based marketing initiatives or any sort of like, uh, good marketing automation, those are still like sufficiently underfunded in most institutions.
All that is to say is that like, Whereas admissions or enrollment management or advancement, right. Like have, they're better understood. They've been, they've been better understood as sort of like the, the, the bloodline, the, you know, the, the necessary, uh, revenue drivers for, for institutions. And those have historically got a, got a few more resources.
So I feel like one of the things that's happening right now is like, There are now just way more options for way more different, uh, administrators and teams than ever before. And as such, right? Also, brands have just gotten way more sophisticated in in their own marketing, right? Presenting a, a marketer at a college or university with the perfect tool or [00:13:00] the perfect crm, or the perfect system for their specific niche need, uh, is easier to do than ever before.
And if I see something that I think is gonna make my life and my teams'. Sufficiently more, uh, uh, you know, efficient and, and quite frankly, just easier. I wanna latch onto that even if it doesn't necessarily make sense institutionally for my specific team. It makes sense. And, and, and I want it, right, And I, and I, and I want it now.
And I feel like the rate, to your earlier point, the rate that these things are becoming available, the rate at which they're being marketed to these professionals, and quite frankly, The freemium models of being able to try it out a little bit and then realize, Oh my gosh, this actually does solve my problems.
That's just increasing exponentially. That we're, that we're just living in a world that is just moving way, way, way faster than I think institutions, at least institutions with, with sort of like traditional buying patterns and buying behavior are really, really struggling to keep up.
Jeff Dillon: You're, you're right on.
We should hang out more often. Zach . [00:14:00] Um, I, I need a cohort to, to talk about this stuff, but, um, Yeah. The, the way we're adopting technology is, it's, it's going so fast that you, you can't stop it. What You're getting right at it. We can't stop it. Okay. Because the framing model, a CIO will. Oh my gosh, 20 of my faculty are already using this.
We're we gotta get the enterprise license, right? Yeah. That's the strategy of these clever marketing companies. They made it so easy. So we have this proliferation problem at the, at the page level. Yeah. Right. Content management systems are splurging with pages cuz these CMSs are so great. Yeah. We have it at the app level, whether it's enterprise apps or you know, mobile apps or whatever.
But, but people can purchase apps that can use free apps. So, So you're right. So how do we gov it's governance, right? We talked about governance. That can, that's a whole nother episode if we get into that. But the other thing, We need to have a pla a way to connect them all. Yeah. . So, so we need a, and, and one of these things that's emerged, that's in my period table is integration platforms.
Yeah. And there's [00:15:00] all sorts of, they're, they're, they're out there now. But you gotta be careful in the ones that you, uh, an integration platform you choose. Um, some, some that I've, I've known, I've. Been had experience with are, are pretty hard, pretty complicated to, to implement. So that's the key. We really need to look at the, at the cost of maintaining these systems.
Yeah, because you buy an integration platform, you're like, Oh good, I can, I can tie myself together. And you spend a week in training and your best developers can't get it going. Maybe you didn't get the right system. Yeah. So, So really the ease of use of, of an integration platform is kind of, One thing that I think is not getting enough attention right now in higher ed, um, you know, I'm getting kind of in the technical weeds and I probably won't, but the CRM example is, you know, everyone's getting one.
Back to your other point about marketing being more prevalent, more accepted, maybe it's definitely more accepted now because. Back in the day when I first started in Sacramento, we, we wouldn't say [00:16:00] the word customer. These are not customers. These are students. Yeah. , you know, and its a little more behind the scenes.
We can say that a little more, but they are our customers, you know, But true academics don't like to say that. But that's what we're doing is we're, if we're fighting for enrollment in numbers and you know, to, to, to, to justify our existence, the marketing tools are gonna get leaned on. I think they're much more accepted.
So how do we integrate a cr. You know, with our current stack and schools Yeah. That's one of the systems that's sorely being neglected in the, in the integration of the front end. Yeah. So, um, yeah, I really like to kind of bring that one up and, um, the term is being known more and more now, you know, as far as what an
Zach Busekrus: integration platform is.
Yeah. And, and. On that note, uh, quick little like anecdote here. So one of Enroll FI's partner agencies is a, a marketing firm called DD Agency and they just built an integration with, So a lot of their clients use HubSpot and a lot of their admissions clients use Slate. And so they were just tired of having to try to.
Do all these custom things between these [00:17:00] platforms or do import export of CSV files, right? So they, they built like an integration between HubSpot and Slate, and it's this really like, kind of powerful, powerful tool. But, you know, one of, one of the challenges is like the minute the market sees that everyone now wants an integration with like their CRM and Slate or their CRM and, you know, uh, their sis and now it's like the rate at which, uh, I was just having a conversation with, uh, some folks in the, in the industry yesterday actually about.
Uh, people don't understand. The market doesn't understand h how expensive these integrations are, how much time they take and how hard, just fricking hard they are. And I think part of the reason we don't understand this, like sometimes you, you know, an integration can cost more than the tool itself like, You, you wanna buy the crm, right?
Or you wanna buy this sis and then you want to integrate them ? Well, people, people are blown away when it's like, well, that, that's costs more than the tool itself. Like why should, why should that be? And I, I actually, I was thinking about this last night. I think one of the reasons here is that we live in a world where like [00:18:00] the expectation is integration.
Like I was thinking about like when I, when I go to Whole Foods, I go to Whole Foods, Amazon, obviously old, uh, owns Whole Foods. I go into Whole Foods. I buy something. I scan my Prime app right at the end, uh, to get, you know, all the prime discounts that are exclusive to people that shop at Whole Foods that are prime members, whatnot.
And everything just works seamlessly. When I, I specifically use Lyft instead of Uber because I'm trying to increase the amount of miles I get on Delta, Right? And they have this partnership. And so, and, and all that is to say is the world is. Incredibly integrated, like mainstream, like, uh, my, my, as a consumer, I just expect these things to like work out, right?
The, all these brand partnerships. When I go and I use my Capital One card, I know I'm gonna get, you know, three times points on this particular hotel brand and I don't have to think about it. And as such, the idea of like integrating systems, while that's maybe a little bit of a stretch, the idea of integrating systems people, d people, just.
To work there, just, there just has to be a solution. Right? And so I, I feel like one of the [00:19:00] biggest friction points in the industry right now in, in higher ed is like, wait a second, Like this. Just, just make it work. It, it just, it just has to work. But the problem is like, folks haven't built this out yet, or at least they haven't built it out in, in any sort of like meaningful scale.
So how do you respond and think about all that? Yeah,
Jeff Dillon: I, I want to take it to another level basically, and. You're right, it's expected, It's ingrained. Our students expect ease of use, but they don't really know how to define it. Yeah, we need define it by, by the systems they're familiar with. So when we as administrators in technology think we've done an integration, how are we making sure that's the, Then we get into the nuance of what is an integration.
Because one example is a portal. I've seen a couple portal products where they really, you log in with your SSO ID and you see a bunch of logos of, of. Of integrated systems and all it is is kick you to their ui. Yeah. And, and that's, that's not an integration. [00:20:00] Um, yeah, sure. It's gonna be easy to plug and play and add another logo there, but, but then you really have to, to, to talk to your students and find out what are they expecting you.
What we need to do is be able to plug and play systems as they come and go. Yeah, but keep the UI consistent. That's hard, that's tricky, but if you get the right foundation, it's gonna make your life a lot easier. So. I think everyone group would agree with what we're saying. Like, we expect integrations.
It's just, it's just how, how, what does an integration look like? There's a balance between full custom where sure if you have all the money and you're one of these private schools that has that ton of money, you can build that custom, um, interface and maintain it. Um, but if you don't, you need a framework that can balance that flexibility versus the control and the, the user experience.
And a value that you can afford. Yeah. And that's, that's the trick and that's the sweet spot with some, some of these companies that are really higher ed is the large part of their [00:21:00] market, higher ed government, um, but they're not really, you know, selling widgets. Yeah. You know, they're really aware of this environment that, hey, accessibility is important, and security we're held to a higher standard.
Um, so I, I don't know. I think, uh, I think it's. That's missing sometimes is what does an integration look
Zach Busekrus: like? I wanna try to bring this back down a little bit and, and think through how, practically speaking, like how, how do folks move if, if we can agree, which I think most people tuning into this conversation can agree to the fact that.
Things are siloed. There are too many tools. There are too many, you know, things that people are using to communicate with students. You've got faculty going rogue. You've got administrators signing up for these free tools, sending out, you know, uh, emails from a, a new CRM because they have prettier templates, right?
Like, you've got, you've got all this stuff happening and, and I think most people can kind of agree. Th this is a challenge, right? Like this is, this is a major point of friction, not just from a technology standpoint, but from like a brand [00:22:00] consistency standpoint, right? From, from a user experience standpoint, how the heck are you supposed to make sure that the communications that you're sending are actually relevant to the audience that you're sending them from?
If there's, or you're sending them to, if there isn't, like, Sound data communication between all the different points of software that might be able to send that communication to a prospect, right? If I had a dime for every time I hear, like, you know, Oh, the marketing team keeps sending things to admitted students, or ex, you know, this person's a fricking senior and they're getting emails as if they are a prospective freshman, right?
Like, there's all this, this, all this information that is just like not synced, not, not properly speaking, uh, to each other. So I think, I think most, most folks can agree on that. What, what is, like, what is the solution here? , right? Like, like, obviously it's gonna, it's gonna change, like dependent, uh, or dramatically depending on like the institutional context.
But like from, from, you're, you're a smart guy, you're a critical thinker, like looking out over the next couple years here. How is higher [00:23:00] Ed going to move towards kind of a one system of truth? You know, one, one kind of, um, singular, singular, um, tool that can at least speak to all the other tools in a appropriate fashion?
Well, how do folks get from totally siloed? Everyone's using their own kind of system to solve a problem to something that's highly integrated, but also right. And I think this is the, this is the kicker, uh, incredibly helpful and useful for whatever that individual's problem is. What give us like the couple year vision for how we get from where we are.
To where we need to be.
Jeff Dillon: Yeah, I think that's really the tough question that, that we're all struggling with. And you know, I do have some experience, right in that, in that spot, it's hard not to talk about this. It starts at web governance. It doesn't end at web governance because you can have bad digital governance essentially.
And my experience in that was, [00:24:00] Pretty successful in, in a big project I went through right before I left Sacramento because we went through a huge web overhaul and we rebuilt the whole site. But to make that successful, we said we have to put something in place to make sure in the future we don't become.
We're find ourselves in the same boat. So it wasn't just governing the website, it was everything. It, when you're buying a new tool, when you want to integrate something, you have to go through the process. And so the what makes us so slow in higher ed, you know, also also can be our savior in this point, right?
Because if everyone has a seat at the table, have. 10 or 20 people on this committee and, and you actually put in some, some tenants that are saying, you know, the purchasing purchasing process where I, where I was at was kind of a, kind of a nightmare. Yeah. You know, and, and so that can work both ways, but, but with, when we're dealing with security and accessibility, let's use those to our advantage.
So since we can't stop anyone from doing something, you know, we. Well, you're on the [00:25:00] hook for the security and accessibility, cuz I don't know if we're ever gonna get to the one you're talking about. Yeah, yeah. I think it's a, you know, maybe in some instances, like, maybe, maybe won't ever, ever have a, a second SIS on campus.
Yeah. But I can't think of anything else. There's always multiple CMSs and LMSs and, um, CRMs and I think, I think knowing what's out there and knowing the Rogue One, since our government isn't mature enough, we, you know, the president finally. It gets enough security reports and, and puts the hammer down.
And the Rogue, the rogue college or two came on board. You know, after a while, I won't talk too much about that one, but every school has 'em, Every school has those departments. Um, it and I, you can't just get it. Now is the time for we governance. So many schools are so far behind in this. It's not that hard to just set up a committee, but it takes someone at the top to say, We have to do this.
And, you know, the, the regular. Um, buy-in and committee work and, and however it looks on your campus,
Zach Busekrus: who's the best individual [00:26:00] to, to spearhead a, a committee or a, or a group that is going to like, really take this seriously and really kind of think through what do these various stakeholders need? Also at the end of the day, like, what the heck do our students actually need and how are they interacting with, with these systems and, and, and the content.
And what would be detrimental to, if we were to just kind of pull this away? Like, who, who should lead that team?
Jeff Dillon: I, I, you know, I've worked at two public schools and I would, my recommendation is that you, it can come from anywhere. I think a director at some level needs to kind of, you know, if a vice president isn't the one that, that champions it, the director.
Finds a vice president, level champion. President's not right. He is not gonna have time for this. Yeah. But if you have find a vice president, level champion and that vice president can can find another person on the president's cabinet. That level, I think you're trying to make real transformation. I think you need two [00:27:00] people on the cabinet that get that, that.
Are on the same page to push this forward. Um, but if you have a director that's that's been there a while and is passionate, they can all also get a lot done. I think, you know, I felt like after I was there 10 years, I could create teams. I couldn't call it a committee, but I could say, Hey team, I'm, we're doing this, um, every month.
I'd love your input on, on what we're doing. You know, I was essentially creating web governance, but it wasn't, wasn't binding or anything, but, but if you really wanna binding and have a, have, have some real accountability, I think you really need at. I mean, I think you need two Two at that level. Yeah. Yeah.
To say we're doing this. Cuz sometimes that there's that one vice president level person who's like, ah, it's just them. But if you can get two Yeah. You know, you can make, I think you can make, I've seen some incredible change. A whole website disappear and a new one pop up overnight. Wow. Like that was, people did not like us, but it was, it was better for the, For the school.
Zach Busekrus: Yeah. Do, do you think there's a world where, The powers that be cuz one, what I just keep coming back to [00:28:00] is at the end of the day, different departments are going to have different needs and they're serving different constituencies. And so trying to, trying to make everybody use. One or two tools for everything is just, it's actually quite ridiculous in, in 2022 to think that that's like acceptable and okay.
Right. So, and, and I think that there are, there are schools that are pulling back and trying to do that. I don't think that that's the solution. But what about a solution where, and I'd love, I, I'd really love your thoughts on, on this, Jeff, like what about a solution where it was like, hey, The sis is our single point of truth, right?
We've got one student information, se uh, system. Um, you can use whatever marketing and CRM tools that you need for your specific domain, right? As long as this number of properties, right? Let's say [00:29:00] it's, it's like five properties, right? As long as these five properties can always be seamlessly integrated, right?
Mm-hmm. to the sis, we don't care what the hell you use. Like, is there a world in which like stuff like that happens, or, or is that like way too complicated or, or is that already happening? I think that's, that's where we were
Jeff Dillon: headed is, Okay, use what you want. But the other two big ones are security and accessibility.
Yeah. Yeah. So integration, security, accessibility.
Zach Busekrus: As long as those three things are in place, you use whatever tool you want.
Jeff Dillon: Yeah. And so you don't say like you Yeah, exactly. Um, cuz it's impossible to, to, to really, um, regulate this decentralized nature of,
Zach Busekrus: of higher ed. And, and I. I feel like if that, if that was communicated more clearly and more consistently, I feel like what would happen is the vendors that are supporting the space, I actually think what they would probably do is they'd probably underwrite a lot of the costs to do these [00:30:00] integrations.
Right. And they, they're not gonna pass it along to you. They're gonna be like, All right, well, hey, if, if we. At people at these schools will use our software. As long as this thing is true, they'll put that, they'll, they'll, they'll do that up front. Like they'll, they'll invest in that. And I, but, but I feel like that that declaration isn't clear or loud enough or consistent enough across the board at this particular juncture.
Jeff Dillon: You're That's a great point. Um, if they can, um, see the greater good and resell it, they're gonna build it into their product and. You know, probably not, you're not gonna see a lot of cost involved in that. But, um, what I find difficult, because we're talking about all these literally hunt oh, hundreds of different types of software out there Sure, Sure.
That people are struggling with, with purchasing. How do you decide which ones to even. Look at Yeah. You know, let alone buy, How do you get to a short list? So, so, so we need to somehow vet the companies who are committed to higher ed, because if they're lower than, you know, 5% of higher ed or, or whatever, it's largely their, their product roadmap is not gonna [00:31:00] align with higher ed, their licensing, um, the security accessibility.
Um, so it really can help. Get to your short list if you can really find out how targeted they are, um, to higher ed.
Zach Busekrus: Yeah. Yeah. Right on. Yeah, that's a, that's a really good point. And I mean, one of the reasons we built this, uh, higher ed software and agency review site called, called Chatter, which is one small attempt to make that a little bit easier is to understand, hey, what are people from the industry actually saying about these respective companies and, and, and, and tools.
Um, so that, that, that can be a helpful resource. So what do you think, Jeff, about. I think, I think one of the things that we haven't touched too much on in this particular conversation is kind of student expectations, right? Like, and, you know, what, what does it look like to bring students more, um, you know, into, into sort of like the buying process?
And I don't know, I don't know like how, I'd love your thoughts on like if you, if you've done this or, or experimented with it of like, hey, before. [00:32:00] Sign a multi-year contract with this major, uh, software company. What does it look like to almost like get prospective students or current students, like send them some emails or send them, you know, some content that might be hosted in these respective systems and watch how they interact with it.
Right? And, and then use that as, as part of your, your decision on whether or not to go with that particular vendor or another vendor. Are, are schools incorporat? Students kind of opinions and thoughts into, into, into sort of like the purchasing decision or is this still mostly based on either what it thinks is like most secure and or what you know is, is quite frankly like the cheapest option for this school?
How a any sort of creative It's a great question.
Jeff Dillon: Yeah. And I hasn't been pondered enough, I think because, um, I have to say I probably don't have enough, um, firsthand knowledge of this, but my, from my couple decades in this, I, I. There's hardly any of that going on. Probably. Yeah. Um, as far as students being involved at, in the purchasing [00:33:00] level, if we can get them into that web governance process, I think that's, that's one start.
Um, you mentioned this in the last podcast, I think, like how, what if we had students at the table and I'm like, Yes, of course. And we did on ours. We had one. It's hard to get 'em to come, but, um, we have to do that. It's almost like diversity and recruiting, you know, it's just cuz. From different ethnic backgrounds aren't applying.
It's like, you know, we need to try harder, basically. Um, but the other thing we could do too is, you know, the, the painful RFP process we have to go through so often , um, it can often be put on the vendor too. Like, you know, could we, could we push our vendors to be like, Hey, have you, you know, what? Have you done any testing with students?
What are your students say? Ah, that might be skewed a little bit, but I think it's always good to keep that in their mind that. You know, the best companies are really, um, talking to students. I know you do a lot. I know you really talk to students and, and refi is really there. But, um, you know, the other thing about students is I think, um, I think we're [00:34:00] overestimating their digital literacy quite often.
Hmm. Um, You know, because they think they need things done so easily. And I come from a background where I'm working in schools that are, that serve underserved populations. Yeah. And so I know that's the truth at some schools, but it's something that, that we really need to, I think, be aware of. Um, you know, sometimes they're doing things on more things on their phones than you think.
Yeah. Like editing and writing papers. And it's, it's, it's.
Zach Busekrus: Slow and crazy. I, uh, quick like anecdote there. My, um, 17 year old sister, so she's a, a senior in, in high school. The other day I was at my parents and she was like on her phone and she was like, I was like, What ki who are you texting? Like that is a really long text.
Like meaning, I just saw her like typing like it, like vividly and it was like for like minutes and she's like, Oh, no, no, no. I'm working on a. And I was like, From your phone. And she's like, And it was like a, it was like a Word doc I guess, that she was using, but she was like working on a college application, like an essay or something like that.
But she was writing the essay from her phone and I was just like, [00:35:00] And, you know, there's like a 10 year age gap between us. And it was like, how are, I wouldn't have even dreamed of doing something like that, like 10 and like, and that, that is, she's legitimately writing a college essay from her phone. Um, anyways.
Uh, not to get too off on a, on a tangent there, but I, but I, to your point, things are accelerating so quickly. The way that students are interacting with and consuming information is just happening at just an incredible rate. And I do feel like schools need to get incredibly creative and thoughtful for, Hey, how are we doing this to the best of our ability?
Recognizing that we're not, we're never gonna be able to like pace with some of. You know, with, with other brands who are kind of like leading, leading in these respective categories, but what can we do given the resources that we do have to be ahead of the game as, as, as much as. I think
Jeff Dillon: what we don't often realize is the cost of being so slow in higher ed.
I think that's one of our underlying themes here is that, is that we need to move faster. [00:36:00] But the what if we don't realize what the cost is? Like what is the cost of this? And I think part of the cost is that we don't get to pay attention to these emerging technologies that could help us so much. Like, yeah, all these classroom management tools and gamification within.
The learning management space that some schools are doing well, some K-12 is doing well, but that is now that we are more comfortable and familiar with the remote classroom, we need to leverage that classroom so much better. And we think that, Oh, we have Zoom implemented and our instructors can use it, but by an example I gave earlier, Why don't you serve your content in your face at the same time?
Yeah. Um, just, just, and taking that a step further, like, we really need to get there because, you know, we talked about the, um, the generational gap we have maybe with some faculty who have been here long and they just don't want to change. And I think this might shake out a lot. Those, you know, they're retiring and Yeah.
You know, in a few years, I, I. Hope that the [00:37:00] faculty, faculty that stay really want to, to do that, right, they really want to, to embrace these new tools. So I, you know, may, may have got a little off track on what you're asking, but you know, what can we do better? I think is just, you know, if you can't find the champion at your school, like if you're listening to this podcast, maybe you could be the champion.
Yeah, yeah. On whatever level you're at. Can you. Fight for good. You know, we say like, you fight for good and, um, in part sometimes in higher ed because, um, sometimes the motivation isn't quite there. And I, I, I felt that after I was there for so long, um,
Zach Busekrus: that it's hard to make change. But yeah, I, I also feel like, what, what happens you.
is that schools get locked into these like crazy contracts. Like I think about like OPMs for instance, Right? Which are a hot, hot topic and people are, you know, on lots of, every, everyone that you talk to about an OPM has strong opinions one way or the other. Um, and I don't wanna talk about that right now, but, but in terms of like, With software, it's the same thing.
Like, it's like you, you, you can get like locked in to these like multi-year agreements with these tools. And then by the time, like, [00:38:00] like I was talking to somebody and I won't name the tool, but I was talking to somebody the other day at a well known institution with a well known, uh, software product, and they are in their third year of, of getting set up and they're not even like, The software's not even live right, Like third, third year.
And again, this is a well known, this is a well known software company in this space. Anyways, point being that like, I think where, where I always like, what, what frustrates me so much is like people are just get tired, like, and they end up, they end up settling for tools or systems or, or, or solutions. And because they don't, they just don't have the bandwidth, quite frankly, to spend another two and a half years trying to onboard with something that promises that they're even better.
The last one that they have. And so people get complacent, uh, cuz they're burned out. Right. And yet they, uh, unfortunately, like students don't care about that. And unfortunately, like, your, your competitors don't care about that. Right. Um, and, and, and I think that like there's just massive opportunity for, for the [00:39:00] people and or the organizations that can find a way to help these schools get out of.
Contracts and or like say, Hey, like we will we, we will do the hard work for you. And again, everyone is so different and this is so hard to maybe do at scale, but for the organizations that can figure out how to do this and do this well, there's remarkable, remarkable opportunity because at the end of the day, again, like it's not the student's fault that you're tired, It's not the student's fault that the software that you thought you were buying, like the people there are just really frustrating and there's no customer support like, Th that's not, that's not the student's problem.
And it's also not the de your other department's problem, right? Like whoever, whoever is buying, whoever's buying and owning the system like you are responsible for making it work, not just for you, but for the other stakeholders. And if you can do that. Yeah. Like it or not, like, you know, That is on you.
And so I, I feel like there's this complacency that ends up setting in just because people are tired. People are so tired. .
Jeff Dillon: Yeah. You're, I totally agree with that. And one little [00:40:00] angle to that too is on the other side of the spectrum, rather than getting wrecked over the coal over years with, with a solution that's not panning out, um, we have.
Pretty robust, I will say, to be nice procurement offices in higher ed that have a lot of people and a lot of processes and, and they, they often, I've seen some that are really. They're doing their job so well. They create a very, it's very difficult sometimes to get software, but when you get that contract written, it's very favorable to the institution.
Yeah. You're getting paid on milestones. You know, the vendor just has to do all this stuff together, get it working. And so, you know, it sometimes those, I think you, you are an outlier. Your case is outlier over here. I'm giving you an outlier on this side. Yep. It has to fall more towards that end of, of let's let our procurements office really, um, Yeah.
I wanna slow down the process, but if we're gonna. You know, write these RFPs and, um, you know, these contracts should be really favorable short terms, um, terms on the university's. Yeah. You know, the vendors [00:41:00] will. We'll
Zach Busekrus: make it, They'll accommodate.
Jeff Dillon: Yeah, yeah, yeah. They will accommodate. So really think about that when we're, when we're trying to purchase.
And the ones that are hard, like you're like, why is it so hard? Maybe it's not the right vendor. Yeah. Um, you know, if you think about it, look at, look at how committed are they
Zach Busekrus: to higher ed. One, one quick, one quick thought on the, on the procurement front. Um, and again, I apologize if this is, if this just isn't how it, it works or functions.
Um, I've, I've never worked in a procurement office, but like, Is there, is there like a, a better, like more strategic role for these individuals where like, hey, they're actually sitting down with these teams and getting a better understanding of like, Hey, talk to me about everything that you actually need.
Let's be strategic about this. And I guess what, what I'm getting at is, is there a more like proactive role that procurement folks could play rather than it being a little bit more of a defensive, reactive role? Does that just not work? My
Jeff Dillon: kind of theory on this is that they're [00:42:00] pretty reactive. Yeah. Like they, they don't, If they were included early on, I think there probably are some people that, that I knew a couple in Sacramento that were great.
I think the procurement office in Sacramento was actually pretty amazing. Like relative probably to the general higher ed population. But I think for the most part they probably are very, It might be difficult to have them get. Or have the experience or know what questions to ask with all the different types of things out there.
Yeah, I think we have a great collaboration where we would tell procurement, Here are all the things we need to know. Can you make sure anyone buying it on this campus just does all these things and has to go through us? Yeah. Um, and they, and we did it and that worked, but we gave 'em all the questions and all the things, but they would, they would see something in new contact us like this.
They're trying to buy this. Like, how, you know? What is that, what category does that fit in? So, um, I think there's a good, good room for collaboration. Yeah. Um, usually it's not really at the selection point. It's, it's, it's more at the like, we really want this. Yeah. Um, you know what they, they just had need to have their.[00:43:00]
Data work with it. I think it's possible. I don't know how prevalent, how prevalent it is
Zach Busekrus: though. Yeah, Yeah. Or, or even just like being able to pass along like, Hey, you know, we got something similar from this other department for this company. And you know, the thing that you just, this is three times what, you know, we, we saw it was over here.
Like, are you sure? Like, it, it, it, are we missing something here? Like I, I, I feel like maybe there's, there is a little bit more of like, A feedback loop that could be helpful across the university. And again, maybe a little bit more of a proactive approach to, Hey, we've seen a lot of these other things come across our desk.
Here's our recommendation kind of on like either one, this other department tried this and it didn't work. Just in fyi, you can still go forward, you can still, you know, we'll approve it. But like this other, this other department had a, had a really like, terrible relationship with this software, uh, provider and whatnot.
And I, I feel like there, there could be just an increase in that, that feedback and um, and that collaboration just to, you know, help. Limited resources, uh, much more efficiently across the enterprise. [00:44:00] I got just one final question for you, for you, Jeff, Uh, at least, at least for today, And that's around like, you know, Squi, right?
So Squi is, is doing a lot of work right now to. Wrestle with these big, these big challenges and the, and these problems. And, um, I'm curious when, when you guys think about your, your D X P and you think about the other solutions that you have, how are you all talking through and discussing and, and really just like thinking about how to help solve for all of these problems and all of these challenges that we've discussed today.
Jeff Dillon: know, I left my job in higher ed in early, earlier this year, in January this year. And I wasn't really looking, but when I saw what Squi was doing, I wanted to be part of something of the future. Right? I, there, there's these companies that I could probably make a good living working for, and they're, we know what they are.
Yeah. Content management systems and chatbots and, but, but the next thing, the, the dxp. . Um, I thought it was so interesting that Australia, which has about [00:45:00] 50 universities or so, is doing these incredible things with this platform, and why are they so far ahead of the United States? when I could see the, this, the, the new CMS basically is what a dxp is.
Uh, we'll probably talk about that a little about in in a future ex episode. Um, so what we're doing at Squi is really b Yeah. So our job is to educate schools what's possible. Is your CMS siloed? Like one example is when, when, um, a vice president or someone needs to get out info, uh, a communication. This happens all the time.
Everyone's scrambling to put it up everywhere, . It's like, okay, it's gotta go in the portal, Can it come up in the search results? Um, we gotta put on this page and this page. And so, you know, we, everyone talks about a true create once, publish everywhere model. Like, we don't wanna be replicating content. So we know that's a, that's something that's gonna hit at the user level, right?
We don't, we want our students to have more confidence in our search engine to get the information they need quickly, but at the administrative level. [00:46:00] We don't have resources anymore, so how do we, So we're at the sweet spot. We're helping everybody. If we can put in a dxp that can really connect all our front end tech technologies with our easy to use integration platform, I'm just like, how are, how are, is anyone gonna say no to this once they see it?
So, um, that's why I'm a quiz and it's, you know, it's
Zach Busekrus: incredible. Yeah, yeah. No, I, I am super excited by, by the work that you all are doing there, and. Personally, like, yeah, the whole like funnelback product, which I, I know that I've talked about on this podcast before is, is especially just like fascinating to me.
This, this just totally reimagined like onsite, uh, search, uh, site search tool and, um, all the insights that can come from that. And again, I, I'm always biased towards like the marketing side of things and the promotional side of things because that's where, that's where I come from, But, I'm, you know, incredibly excited about what you all are building and think that, uh, anyone who's listening to this conversation that is, uh, that resonates with all these problems and challenges that, that we're talking about, uh, today, um, you know, I highly encourage you to, to [00:47:00] reach out to, to Jeff and, and talk with him and the team there.
But sir, this has been a privilege as always. Um, thank you for your thoughtful reflections. Thank you for the things that you're doing in the space. Thank you for your stories, man. I, I'm looking forward to next time. Yeah, me too, Zach.
Hey, I'll Zach here from Enrollify. If you like this podcast, chances are you'll like other enrollify shows too. Our podcast network is growing by the month and we've got a plethora marketing admissions and higher ed technology shows that are jam packed with stories, ideas, and frameworks that are all designed to empower you to become a better higher ed professional.
Our shows feature a selection of the industry's best as your host. Learn from Mickey Baines, Jeremy Tiers, Jaime Hunt, Corryn Meyers, Jamie Gleason, and many, many more. You can learn more about the Enrollify podcast network at podcasts.enrollify.org. Our shows help higher ed marketers and admissions professionals find their next big [00:48:00] idea.
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About the Episode
The what's what...
On this episode of The Modern Student, Zach Busekrus and co-host Jeff Dillon unpack how new technology can help institutions better recruit and engage the next generation of students.
This episode explores what is holding schools back and what tools are available when it comes to attracting the modern student and nurturing them through their enrollment journey.
About the Series
The Modern Student is a special podcast series in collaboration with Squiz, exploring how technology is revolutionizing higher ed and engaging students.
Squiz is a technology company that is revolutionizing the way higher ed builds digital experiences for its constituents.
The Modern Student is hosted by Enrollify Founder, Zach Busekrus and Jeff Dillon, a senior consultant at Squiz. This series will explore:
- Ep. 4: The Future of Tech in Higher Ed
About the Enrollify Podcast Network
The Modern Student is a part of the Enrollify Podcast Network. If you like this podcast, chances are you’ll like other Enrollify shows too!
Our podcast network is growing by the month and we’ve got a plethora of marketing, admissions, and higher ed technology shows that are jam packed with stories, ideas, and frameworks all designed to empower you to be a better higher ed professional. Our shows feature a selection of the industry’s best as your hosts. Learn from Mickey Baines, Jeremy Teirs, Jaime Hunt, Corynn Myers, Jaime Gleason and many more.
Learn more about The Enrollify Podcast Network at podcasts.enrollify.org. Our shows help higher ed marketers and admissions professionals find their next big idea — come and find yours!
About the Podcast
Zach is the Founder of Enrollify. He thoroughly enjoys building new brands, developing and executing content marketing strategies, and hosting podcasts. When he's not working on Enrollify, he enjoys discussing life's quandaries over coffee (or a good bourbon) with friends, building Sponstayneous (his travel brand side hustle), trying out new HIIT workouts, and adventuring across the globe with his wife!
Jeff Dillon is a senior consultant at Squiz - a technology company that is revolutionizing the way higher ed builds digital experiences for its constituents. With over 21 years of higher ed experiences working on the tech side, Jeff is a proven leader in managing dynamic and complex IT organizations, and driving business transformation. He is continually striving to use agile principles to enhance project and business processes and has a passion for leveraging teams of developers to optimize User Experience with the core principles of Universal Design and Accessibility. Jeff is a frequent speaker and presenter at Higher Education technology conferences and welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with other schools to improve the quality and speed to deliver student centered services.
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