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Back to School: Salesforce Tips for Higher Education Enrollment

By September 17, 2019

Back to School: Salesforce Tips for Higher Education Enrollment
By: Buyan Thyagarajan, Director, Eigen X

It’s back to school time! Summer heat waves can bring summer melt, as well as students with lots of questions. If you are in admissions, retention, or marketing, you may be wondering what you can do to create a better experience for your students.

Have you defined your enrollment goals, retention goals, and plans to improve them? Not yet?
Here are some pointers to help you based on my experience in working with higher ed institutions for more than 5 years.

Allow students to easily enroll in new programs and courses or change majors

Returning students want to sign up for new programs, courses or maybe even change majors. Typically, students must submit multiple applications, call admissions, and follow up with multiple departments to make this happen. This leads to a frustrating student experience, and could mean loss of revenue for the university.

Many ways you can strengthen the student experience with Salesforce are:

    1. Notify Students in Real Time of Applications: Once the application is submitted, decisions can be handled in Salesforce and student information systems (SIS). How about building an integration with your SIS system where you can notify the students in real time on the status of their application and let them know immediately once the application is approved or rejected?

    2. Create a “Shopping Cart” Feature: Show programs of interest to the student based on his or her current major, historical data, and allow students to choose the right program for them. This can help prevent the painful process of rejecting the student for a program that isn’t the right fit.

    3. Create a Tailored Community: By leveraging Salesforce communities, students can have a personalized experience based on where they are in the application lifecycle, collaborate with peers on interests, and get their questions answered quickly.

    4. Set up Form Integration: If you use a content management solution with a student portal, leveraging FormAssembly could be a great option to build applicant forms and integrate them with existing student portals.

    5. Configure Advising Appointments: Consider using SAL (Salesforce Advisor Link) to make it easier for students to schedule appointments with advisors. Institutions can set up different types of appointments for students like walk-ins, advising pools, career advising, and more to provide an outstanding student experience.

Customize how advisors can set up appointments  source: partner training doc from Salesforce
Customize how advisors can set up appointments source: partner training doc from Salesforce

Proactively support students at scale.

Once students come back from summer break, one pain point is dealing with IT issues like computer problems, network problems and changes in passwords or login information. All these issues bubble up and cause students to complain on social media, damaging the brand of the institution. To avoid all this, here are some things you can do:

    1. Get Social: Consider using Social Studio to analyze conversations that students are having about your school on social media. Learn from real discussions about what students are saying!
    2. Create Knowledge Articles in Communities: Help students find what they need. Create knowledge articles for students on their communities where they can login and get the information they’re looking for, even at 1:00 am on finals week. This can help reduce your IT load on support! More info on Trailhead.
    3. Be Proactive: Proactively send an email or social media post on the top 2 things students should do once they come back on the first day of school. Don’t limit yourself to batch and blast emails – set up 1:1 journeys with Marketing Cloud or Pardot.

An example of an online community “one stop” center
An example of an online community “one stop” center

Allow them to monitor internships on their favorite companies using Salesforce Communities

Students want to apply for internships and jobs. Most career services departments use external third-party tools for students to apply for internships and receive status updates. How about integrating all this data in Salesforce and have students do all this in one place?

    1. Have a “Favorite Company” Chatter Thread on Your Student Community
    Once students select their top three favorite companies, Salesforce can automatically notify the student with marketing emails or SMS about new jobs or internships posted for that company.

    2. Notify Students of Career/Internship Fairs and Company Visits
    Post these events to Chatter groups in student communities to drive engagement.

Creating email reminders can help students get information on topics they care about.
Creating email reminders can help students get information on topics they care about.

Connect students with advisors

Once school starts up again, another pain point for students as they come from break is improving their academic scores on their subjects. If you want your students to jump with joy, how about notifying students about assignments or coaching sessions to attend to help them increase their GPA? Also, if you use SAL (Salesforce Advisor Link), you can send proactive alerts where advisors can schedule appointments with students so they know the exact next steps to improve their academic success. This can help your student retention goals and still provide the service needed for the student.

In summary, the top things to enable a fantastic returning student experience are:

    1. Make it easy for students to apply for new programs, proactively provide them status updates, and help them enroll in the right program.
    2. Provide multi-channel email and social media alerts on IT issues and help students resolve IT issues quickly.
    3. Connect students to advisors.
    4. Help the students get jobs and internships with their favorite companies.

Last but not least, has a webinar on the Future of Higher Education coming up September 19. Don’t miss it!


2019 Impact PartnerEigen X is a Impact Partner that helps educational institutions succeed with Education Cloud.

About the Author
Buyan ThyagarajanBuyan Thyagarajan is a Salesforce MVP specializing in Manufacturing, Higher Education and Financial services leading the Salesforce Practice for Eigen X. Eigen X is an Impact Salesforce partner providing scalable solutions in Salesforce, Einstein, Marketing Cloud, Pardot and Lightning upgrades which achieve business outcomes. Connect with him on LinkedIn.