The job of admissions offices across the country has never been more important. No one is going to argue with that. It’s maybe even the most important job at a college or university. After all, faculty can’t teach to empty seats. Getting students — and securing students who will stick with it all the way to graduation — demands professionals, seasoned and committed staff that know how to attract the best students.
The question is, do admissions offices have enough personnel?
A survey by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) suggests that, in many cases, the answer is no.
Conducted in November 2015, the AACRAO 60 Second Survey focused on the number of staff responsible for admissions functions such as recruiting and application processing. Their findings may not be surprising for those who work in admissions, but I’m betting they’d be incredibly unsettling for virtually anyone else.
The key findings include both the number of employees as well as who those employees are: Turns out, many are students.
There’s a lot of numbers in this survey, but let’s just start with one: strictly undergraduate colleges. The average number of full-time employees in the admissions office of an undergraduate college is just under 12 — 11.9 to be exact. That can range from 5.3 employees in a school of under 1,000 students to as many as 25.6 in a school of between 5,000 and 9,999. (And, interestingly, that number drops to 19 in a school of 10,000-19,999!)
The average of part-time employees is a stunning 0.9, and in a college of under 1,000 students the average is only 0.5. But here’s the clincher: the average number of student employees working in undergraduate college admissions offices is 7.8! There is, on average, more than eight times the number of students working in these offices, as there are actual part-time employees.
To put that in a picture, here’s what they found was the average for undergraduate colleges of between 1,000 and 2,400 students:
Full-time employees: 13.7
Part-time employees: 0.9
Student employees: 16.0
You read that right: on average, there are more students than full-time employees and part-time employees combined. Granted, there is another table for “additional employees,” but the fact that so many colleges rely on student employees might raise a few eyebrows, if not outright concerns.
And there’s a lot to do in these offices. When asked about undergraduate admissions staff responsibilities, 94 percent responded that the biggest was processing applications. By my estimation, students and part-time employees can almost certainly help with this, but then those responsibilities are followed, percentage-wise, by more professional tasks, including “making admissions decisions for domestic students” (86 percent), “new student recruitment” (81 percent), and “developing a recruitment plan” (71 percent).
Keep in mind that this survey also covers graduate programs, international recruitment, and lower division colleges. The numbers suggest that everyone feels the pinch.
Capture Higher Ed sets itself the task of using cutting-edge technology to alleviate some of these important responsibilities. Developing a recruitment plan is chief among them. We created Capture Behavioral Engagement (CBE), Capture Recruitment Intelligence (CRI), and Envision to find the students that best fit our partner colleges.
I’m not suggesting students not work in admissions offices — indeed, many start fruitful careers there — but we can certainly help to alleviate the responsibilities of full-time, part-time and student employees, so they can focus on what matters most to their institution.
By Sean Hill, Senior Content Writer, Capture Higher Ed