Doing More With Less

Written By:
Scott Novak
Friday, May 1, 2020

My favorite movie of all time is “Moneyball,” the 2011 film starring Brad Pitt. In this movie,Pitt plays the role of a general manger for the Oakland A’s baseball team. The storyline centers around Pitt trying to come up with creative ways to compete with large-market teams like the Yankees and Red Sox, all when faced with a limited budget.

In other words, how to do more…with less money.

I find this storyline eerily similar to how enrollment offices are probably going to have to operate, especially in light of COVID-19.

Since our inception, Underscore’s goal has always been to provide our clients more for less, by helping them effectively and efficiently leverage the best resource higher education has ever known – Technolutions Slate.

To better understand how we have helped our clients, my team and I wanted to conduct a year-end analysis of services we were able to “insource” for our clients. After an exhaustive evaluation, we uncovered that Underscore was able to eliminate more than 20 traditionally outsourced enrollment initiatives, saving clients in more than $5 million in total operating dollars.

And, by the way, each one of them still met or exceeded their enrollment goals.

How did our clients* use the money they saved from bringing recruitment initiatives in-house? Let’s find out.

*Due to the sensitive nature of the budget allocation being communicated on social media, the names of the schools remain private. We are, however, able to provide names as references if requested.


A small liberal arts college in the North

In 2018,this institution allocated almost $700,000 to an annual student search contract with a third-party vendor. Fast-forward to 2019, and they decided to bring student search in house with the help of Underscore. For the dollars budgeted in 2018 just for student search, this school was able to do the following in 2019:

·      Had Underscore run student search on an annual basis out of their Slate instance

·      Increased enrollment staff salaries by a total of $100,000

·      Increased their Carnegie-Dartlet digital ad allocation by $100,000

·      Added $25,000 to additional “swag”for accepted students

·      Added $30,000 to on-campus events(better food service, promotions, etc.)

·      Added a $20,000 transfer communication initiative via Underscore

And inthe end, this school was still able to save more than $100,000 in their operating budget.

The results?

·      7% up in deposits year-to-date

·      40% increase in institutional application submissions

·      Up 10% in yield

What the VP of Enrollment is saying:

·      “Operationally, we are healthier and more efficient.”

·      “We’re no longer chasing phantom applications.”

·      “We were able to retain more than 90%of staff due to increase in salaries.”

·      “The team has a larger sense of empowerment and knowledge.”

·      “The team understands how to better recruit students.”

·      “Our discussions with prospects are more meaningful.”

·      “We have a better sense of application qualification.”


Another small liberal arts college in the North

A recent new client of Underscore anticipated a large budget decrease due to the impact of COVID-19 and decided to investigate another solution for student search. Before their partnership with Underscore, their previous student search budget was north of $600,000 with a third-party vendor.

By working with our team, this institution has been able to lean on Underscore for:

·      Annual student search, application generation, yield and anti-melt campaigns (all within their own Slate instance)

·      Multiple new reports in Slate

·      The development of a transfer campaign

·      Complete Slate audit with report

·      Admissions counselor training

At the end of the day, they were able to put nearly $400,000 back into the institutional operating budget to deal with the effects of COVID-19

What enrollment staff are saying:

·      “Our president is extremely happy.”

·      “Our Slate staff is thrilled to have additional support.”

·      “We didn’t have to furlough or layanyone off from our department.”


A regional state school in the Midwest

Underscore started working with a regional state school in the Midwest about eight months ago. At the time, they had just purchased Slate but did not feel comfortable in their ability to implement in time for their application “go live” in July.

When they communicated that they didn’t have the budget to bring in an agency like Underscore to help with implementation, we suggested bringing student searchin-house. This traditionally had been a $200,000 contract with a third-party vendor.

By doing this, they were able to partner with Underscore to:

·      Implement Slate across multiple departments and divisions

·      Conduct an annual student search contract

·      Develop multiple additional campaigns(yield, anti-melt etc.)

·      Conduct three days of training

With our help, they are going live within the next two weeks (and still saved some money in the process)!


The New Normal

While the Yankees and Red Sox may compete for the World Series almost every year, they have the budget to make a few costly mistakes along the way and still reach the summit. There is no room for error with the A’s... and in our current climate,the same holds true for colleges and universities.

“Out of the box” thinking will have to become our new normal now. Gone are the days of six-figure student search contracts and high-priced consultants.

If you have Slate, the tools are at your disposal. Underscore’s just here to help you figure out how to use them…and save some money along the way.

Contact Us

About the Author

The education oracle. Few people know college admissions and educational marketing like Scott. He lives and breathes it. His ability to anticipate the marketing needs of an institution is the stuff of legends. Twenty-five years in the industry makes him the expert. And with one eye on market trends and the other on client needs, Scott doesn't just see the future - he helps create it.


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