When thinking of global trends, innovation, and staying ahead of the curve in business, most people first think of tech-savvy, for-profit organizations. Although many of the skills mentioned in the Global Trends article are particularly relevant in technological fields where changes are occurring rapidly, they can also serve as an incredible tool in the non-profit sector if used properly.
In higher education there is a reputation of things being very slow to evolve. Typically if something works well the way it is, an office is reluctant to make any changes. With colleges becoming more and more costly, universities have to compete with one another to get the very best students possible. Parents and students demand to know what their return on investment will be, and it is the university’s job to give off the perception of quality. This is definitely an area where universities want to take on a competitive edge and try to be as innovative as possible.
As staff members of the office of admission, we serve as the face of the university for perspective families. It is imperative that we are very careful about what and how we communicate, and that we are able to put together events that are appealing to the population. At Carnegie Mellon, some of the more recent developments we have put into place are using social media to communicate with students, having on-line forums, having tech-savvy gadgets in the office like a touch screen panel in the lobby and QR codes that one can scan to do a self-guided tour of the campus.
Although we take some strides in doing more to stand out in the admission process, there is more to learn from for-profit companies about ways we can study and set trends to receive more favorable results. From student surveys and comments we've learned that they do compare universities to one another based on all kinds of factors, so really should do more in terms of comparing ourselves to our peers. There can also be some benefit of doing more population studies to see how we can serve people differently based on the needs of their population group. It is imperative that at this point we are actively seeking out ways to be more original and transformational or there is certainly a chance of the university lagging behind.
What other types of for-profit strategies do you think could be relevant in admission?