Student Success Insights Blog

5 frequently asked questions about our academic advising campaigns new infographic

Lindsay Miars

Lindsay Miars, Associate Director
Student Success Collaborative

Last month, we released an infographic featuring 61 advising campaign ideas to help academic advising teams target efforts across the year with the help of SSC. Advisors have downloaded the infographic in droves—and ordered more than 1,000 posters in just two weeks!

Hoping to capitalize on this momentum, leaders have come to us with questions about how to best leverage this resource in the coming months. We've compiled answers to five frequently asked questions we've received from leaders:

1. Do we need to do all 61 campaigns?
2. Where should we begin?
3. Which campaigns are the most effective?
4. What results can I expect to see?
5. How do I get advisors across campus to participate in the campaign process?

Do we need to do all 61 campaigns?

Definitely not! An effective campaign strategy for your department or institution doesn’t need to account for every campaign on the list, and probably won’t. These 61 campaigns represent a partial list of real campaigns conducted by advisors in the Collaborative. Different campaigns will appeal to different advisors depending on their role and capacity, as well as the students they serve.

Where should we begin?

Each institution should build a campaign strategy that serves their unique priorities. A great place to start is the data in your Institution Reports, which can be used to identify pockets of opportunity. Many institutions have found it helpful to work in partnership with their dedicated consultants (as well as their advisors) to plan a comprehensive strategy that matches the right campaigns to the right populations at the right times.

  • Want to learn more about Institution Reports?

    Watch our on-demand presention to learn how to navigate the reports and leverage them across the coming school year.

Which campaigns are the most effective?

The ROI you see from a single campaign will depend on how effectively the advisor executes it, among a number of other factors. However, we know that members have seen positive results from five particular campaigns across the past year:

1. Stop-outs not enrolled for the next term (#33)
During re-enrollment campaigns, advisors and staff reach out to academically eligible stop-outs urging them to re-enroll. Because they deliver quick, term-over-term enrollment wins, re-enrollment campaigns have been a popular choice across the membership (you can read more about them here). With one re-enrollment campaign in the summer of 2014, East Tennessee State University re-enrolled 13 students for an estimated $50,000 in tuition revenue. Other institutions, like Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), have coordinated re-enrollment campaigns across departments for even greater return. MTSU re-enrolled 390 undergraduate students in spring 2015 as a result of these campaigns, leading to 1.5% improvement in overall fall-to-spring persistence.

2. Sophomores and juniors on academic probation (#5)
This campaign is used to target students below (but near) the probation threshold for their program and to provide intensive support to help them improve their academic standing. Advisors at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) targeted 187 probation students in the School of Business. By the end of the campaign, 34% had raised their GPAs above 2.0, with corresponding increases in credit completion and fall-to-spring persistence for targeted students. Stephen F. Austin State University conducted coordinated campaigns for first-time probation students, and improved retention of this population by 3.5% in fall 2015.

3. Undecided students who are nearing the credit threshold required to declare a major (#21)
Students who wait longer to declare a major set themselves up for roadblocks, and often have lower overall graduation rates relative to students who declare earlier. One advisor at Plymouth State University proactively targeted 41 first-year undeclared students prior to registration. Before registration had ended, 61% of targeted students had successfully declared a major. Similarly, an advisor at Western Washington University saw a 24% increase in early major declaration for students advised as part of a major declaration campaign.

4. "Murky Middle" subpopulations
Murky Middle campaigns provide an opportunity to target students who pose a future performance concern—they’re likely to encounter roadblocks or struggle down the road. As you know from our research, students in the Murky Middle tend to be overlooked in favor of more obviously at-risk students. Although the exact parameters for each of these campaigns will depend on the program, Murky Middle campaigns typically target students with between a 2.0 and 3.0 GPA, with the goal of turning their GPA around in the next term or year.

5. Seniors who have not yet applied for graduation (#25)
Like re-enrollment campaigns, graduation application campaigns can deliver a rapid return. Advisors encourage qualified seniors—including those in their sixth year or beyond with excessive credits—to apply for graduation and help to remove barriers preventing them from doing so, such as bursar holds or degree audit oversights. In spring 2015, VCU saw a 19% improvement in graduation candidates compared to spring 2014 as the result of one of these campaigns.

What results can I expect to see?

The results highlighted in the response above are examples of the positive results from other institutions in the Collaborative. However, there are a variety of ways to measure campaign success—from number of appointments scheduled to long-term outcomes like GPA improvement or acceptance to graduate school. The key is to encourage individual advisors to devise metrics at the start, track their progress, and share results. We designed our recent webinar and toolkit to help them do just that.

How do I get advisors across campus to participate in the campaign process?

When it comes to advising campaigns, members have shared promising ideas and practices with us, including promoting friendly competition between advisors and incentivizing campaign success in advisors’ annual reviews.

There are a number of strategies (specifically within higher education or more broadly industry agnostic) that we could recommend to build accountability and excitement for new initiatives. What works best for you will depend on your institution’s unique culture and existing infrastructure.

One critical step members have shared with us is to include advisors in the process of selecting and planning campaigns from the start. This builds buy-in and ensures that advisors are working with a population in which they are personally invested. Given the scope of their existing responsibilities, advisors may balk at the thought of “extra work” in the form of campaigns. However, the infographic was designed to provide flexibility and account for peaks in advisor workload (registration and end of term). You can emphasize that thoughtful campaign planning is meant to help advisors manage their workload, not add to it.

MTSU has seen impressive results with their comprehensive campaign strategy this year. Vice Provost Rick Sluder attributes campus-wide participation in campaigns in part to the regular communication he sends to the advising community, reporting on campaign performance and overall progress toward institutional goals, with examples and stories from front-line advisors who go above and beyond.

  • Could you be our next advising campaign success story? Share your campaign stories and strategies with us in the comments below.

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