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NACAC conference logo with abstract art in the background. Text that reads RESILIENCE, NACAC Conference 2022, September 22-24 - HoustonLast week, members of the PlatformQ Education team attended the NACAC conference and connected with many of our best partners. After months of seeing each other only through our Zoom screens, it was a great opportunity to connect face-to-face, discuss our partners’ strategic recruitment plans, and talk about what’s coming next in the industry. It was also a chance to see our partners in their element – networking with friends and colleagues, learning about new tools and technologies, and walking out of sessions with something new to take back to their campuses. From these many conversations, a few things struck me about this moment in time.

Admissions Professionals are Wearing More Hats than Ever Before

I remember my days as an admissions director and, for all the highs and amazing experiences and accomplishments, there were many days with an equal number of stressors. Pre-pandemic, I wore so many hats I often couldn’t discern what was truly my responsibility and what landed with me at some point along the way. Event planning, marketing, community partnerships, training, managing a team, budgeting, data analysis, road warrior –  all of these duties and more consistently fell to me.  It amazes me how enrollment managers and admissions teams get such a massive amount of work done, while also staying positive and sharing their stories with prospective students and their families. Admissions is not for the faint of heart. 

After catching up with friends and colleagues at NACAC, I have an even deeper appreciation for the work these teams are doing to keep students connected, help students manage the college decision-making process, and support students in a constantly changing environment. For those of us who work with college and university partners across the country, it’s time to remember that they have significantly more on their plates than ever before, and that what we need from them is another request in their neverending to-do list.

Enrollment Teams Need Partners Who Can Carry the Burden

With this never-ending list of things to do, institutional colleagues articulated the inability to tackle new strategic priorities because they don’t have the capacity or resources to do so. In our case at PQE, this includes asking partners to create and leverage video content as part of a strategic recruitment strategy. 

Many of the people we connected with understand the role of video-powered student recruitment in their overall plans, but implementation is a challenge. In a post-pandemic world, admissions teams are asked to both return to the initiatives from before the pandemic and maintain those initiatives that proved successful during the pandemic. What enrollment teams need is for us, as partners, to take some of this lift by better supporting the planning and execution of their strategy. 

During NACAC, the PlatformQ team put this into practice. We connected with partners on specific strategies and needs and identified ways in which our team could provide additional support. We know that students engage through video, and our partners recognize the role video has on conversion through the funnel. In this relationship, we must identify ways to increase our support of our partners in order to execute a successful strategy. Just as recruitment initiatives have changed over the past two years, so have the needs of our partners. We, as partners, also have to be flexible and think about how we offer our solutions in new and supportive ways.

People are STILL Excited About the Work They Do

Even with multiple hats and extensive to-do lists, it is clear that our college and university colleagues are excited about the work they’re doing and what the future holds. Once our team maneuvered through the challenges these colleagues face and dove into the opportunities for growth and success, we all walked away with a plan that felt revitalized and exciting. We had the opportunity to connect, vent, share, plan, and build our relationships, not as a vendor supporting a client, but rather as partners in achieving the enrollment goals they’ve set for themselves. 

After this reflection, this is my biggest takeaway: through all that we’ve experienced in the past two years – the late nights and early mornings, the exhaustion, the turnover, the uncertainty – we’ve emerged with new opportunities and a fresh perspective on what makes a difference in the work our partners do each day. I am re-energized from my time at NACAC, and can’t wait to see what comes next. We hope to see you all next year in Baltimore!

Dr. Alice Arredondo is Vice President of Recruitment and Enrollment Strategy at PlatformQ Education. An industry leader in admissions and recruitment, with experience in undergraduate, graduate, international, and medical school admissions, she has 18+ years of experience in enrollment management at the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri – Kansas City, where she served as Director of Admissions before transitioning to PlatformQ in August 2020. Dr. Arredondo holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Communication Studies from Truman State University, and both a master’s in Higher Education Administration and a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Kansas.