Despite global disruptions throughout higher education in 2020 and beyond, institutional success will continue to be defined by the ability to attract new students, effectively educate them, and inspire their ongoing support as alumni. What’s changed, however, are consumer demands in the wake of the pandemic and evolving market trends.

Enrollment, student success, and alumni relations are all pieces of the same puzzle—the student lifecycle. By treating them as such, institutions can meet students' evolving needs and maintain continuity from recruitment to graduation and beyond.

Reimagining recruitment

In the past decade, the demand for higher education has begun to slide, with prospective students no longer seeing college as an inevitable step on their career path. The pandemic has only exacerbated this change as institutions scramble to meet expectations during a period of upheaval.

In a survey conducted by Inside Higher Ed, 91% of responding college and university admissions officers were “concerned” or “very concerned” about meeting their enrollment goals for the fall 2021 semester. As institutions look beyond COVID-19, recruitment tactics must evolve to sustain the lifecycle.

Modern communication

Social media has quickly become a go-to recruitment tool, but in today’s attention economy, a panoramic shot of campus is going to have some tough competition for engagement. To reach a generation of students that grew up online, the answer is not to jump on the latest TikTok trend, but to embrace the kind of peer-to-peer authenticity that’s come to define influencer culture. In addition to a steady cadence of institution-led social posts, consider hiring students as digital ambassadors to “take over” admissions’ Instagram stories for the day. These glimpses into daily life create mini campus tours that can engage prospective students anywhere.

While video may have killed the radio star, social media hasn’t yet finished off email, particularly when dealing with application logistics. Recruiting in uncertain times means clear, consistent communication is of the utmost importance, and as modern consumers, prospects expect messages to come to their inboxes already personalized.

Being able to pivot quickly institutional goals as the landscape evolves is also critical. By leveraging existing technology such as a constituent relationship management (CRM) systems, institutions can manage these targeted communications adeptly and at scale to ensure every applicant gets the exact information they need.

Evaluate evaluations

In response to widespread testing site closures in 2020, hundreds of institutions made a radical decision: cut standardized tests from their admissions requirements. While the ACT and SAT have long-defined college-readiness checklists, University Business notes test-optional policies were already prevalent among some schools before 2020. This is largely due to the potential bias standardized tests give wealthier students with greater access to tutoring and preparatory resources.

Whether or not test-optional policies become the norm, this is an opportunity to pause and evaluate past practices. Enrollment leaders will need to determine which metrics of success are most meaningful for their institutions moving forward. Likewise, as these requirements are updated, application volumes may spike, making it critical to equip admissions staff with the right tools and technology ahead of time.

Building a foundation for success

Once applicants receive their long-awaited decision letters, it’s the institution’s turn to wait for admitted students to become enrolled students. The right outreach at the right time will help the undecided imagine their future at an institution and take the next crucial step toward matriculation.

Lend a hand with financial aid

The ability to pay for a degree is often the weightiest factor in deciding to pursue one, particularly as the national student loan debt experienced a record-breaking increase of 3% between Q2 2020 and Q2 2021.

To make higher education more attainable, institutions must first ensure admitted students—particularly those who are first-generation and/or international—can easily navigate the federal aid application process. This applies to returning students as well. According to the National College Attainment Network, in the 2020–21 school year, there was a 4.7% drop in the number of lowest-income students who renewed their FAFSA by the national deadline. Without aid and hoping to avoid debt, these students are most at risk of dropping out. It is critical to have a financial aid system that can disburse aid accurately and efficiently, provide insights into student needs, and align to the nuances of external regulations.

Social support near and far

A sense of belonging is one of the most crucial success factors for new and returning students alike, but it’s challenging to measure. Traditional students may find community in extracurriculars, but what about part-time, remote, and continuing education students? How do institutions create a campus culture when, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, only 16 percent of undergraduates were living on campus even before the pandemic?

Today’s engagement strategies must account for the growing number of students who don’t participate in activities or flock to sports. As institutions seek safe ways for their students to convene on campus, they must continue to nurture the remote and asynchronous activities that got their community through 2020.

Accounting for basic needs

Especially in times of widespread economic precarity, institutions must be attuned to their community’s daily needs. Using data to support student well-being on a holistic scale helps alleviate financial stress to ensure students can stay enrolled, focus on their learning goals, and reach graduation.

Access to food, housing, child care, and transportation are crucial for student success, as reaffirmed by a nationwide survey conducted by The Hope Center that found nearly three in five students experience “basic-needs insecurity.” The pandemic has greatly exacerbated financial hardships for many students and institutions have begun accounting for these needs through voluntary data collection, partnering with local groups to supply vital resources.

Paving the way to graduation

One of the greatest threats to fostering an active and thriving alumni base is getting students to the finish line in the first place, which is why institutions invest so heavily in supporting students through that crucial first year of learning. Those systems tend to decentralize soon after, however, relying on individual interventions to keep students on track to graduate.

A monolithic approach to student success neglects the vast and growing population of part-time, transfer, and otherwise non-traditional students without dedicated orientation programs. Institutions must revise their success strategies to meet a wider range of student needs across the entire completion span. This is especially relevant as a higher percentage of historically underrepresented students enroll in higher education with their own specific needs.

Streamlined degree pathways

As it became clear that the pandemic’s effects would extend far beyond initial lockdowns, students around the world were forced to radically change their academic plans. According to the latest Student Voice survey reported by Inside Higher Ed, 25% of students returning to four-year colleges have altered their completion timelines and/or changed their plans for post-graduation due to COVID-19.

Student advising is only as effective as it is efficient, creating direct paths to completion with the fewest detours possible. To create these paths, the modern campus will rely on collaboration technology, sharing data between departments as well as empowering students with the information they need.

Many institutions may have taken this opportunity to prepare for a guided pathways model, if they hadn’t implemented one already. This student-centered approach has gained popularity for its clearly defined roadmaps to degree completion, and its proponents have begun adapting the model to best suit a wider range of constituents. While younger students may need space to explore their interests, older, working students often want to graduate quickly and take their next steps on a career path.

Closing gaps in career readiness

Today, higher education is not only reckoning with disrupted timelines but also new and widening gaps in career readiness due to lost networking and work experience opportunities. For many low-income students, however, these gaps were already impacting their post-graduation earnings potential before 2020, as evidenced by PayScale’s research.

While restoring pathways to success, institutions should consider how to do so equitably. Unpaid internships, study abroad, undergraduate research, and networking opportunities are career-building activities that are not always accessible to low-income students. By ensuring constituents can make use of these resources regardless of wealth, institutions are making an investment in student success, as well as future alumni’s capacity to give back to their schools after graduation.

Lifelong alumni relationships

University advancement in 2021 operates in an entirely different landscape compared to the capital project-driven campaigns of years past. With wallets snapping shut against uncertainty, forward-thinking institutions have already innovated, embracing micro-campaigns, data-informed alumni outreach, and virtual events to meet their goals. But in the face of declining donor pools, colleges and universities can’t limit their outreach to alumni. Instead, they must cultivate philanthropy throughout the student lifecycle, ensuring they can count on support from future generations year after year.

Meaningful engagement between past and present students

Graduation is a common breaking point in student engagement in part due to institutions operating academic affairs separately from advancement and alumni relations. Fostering collaboration and data-sharing between these departments will create parallel opportunities for alumni to engage with their successors, and for current students to develop a culture of philanthropy long before graduation.

As fundraising efforts pivoted in 2020 to meet student needs, donors rose to the occasion, but alumni engagement can extend beyond financial support. Create opportunities to contribute in more experiential ways such as volunteering, tutoring, mentoring, and professional consultation. Given the world’s growing access and comfort with video conferencing, these initiatives can connect alumni all over the world with current students.

Advancement offices should also continue educating students about philanthropy and the role they can fulfill as alumni in supporting future classes. Senior class giving programs, general student fundraisers, giving days, and crowdfunding initiatives all help fuel ongoing projects and create a seamless transition from graduate to donor.

Continuing education programs

Higher education was already experiencing a curricular evolution before 2020, but now the job market has irrevocably changed, and degrees are no longer the golden ticket to a lifelong career. In response, a host of new education models have arisen in service of consumers who aren’t seeking two- or four-year experiences, but specific skill-building opportunities.

“The looming issue for higher education is not just the explosion of alternative providers, but their world-class quality,” The Chronicle notes, citing Google and the Museum of Modern Art as two of the new powerhouses with which local colleges will soon compete. Traditional degrees must now share space with certificates, microcredentials, and badges. These competency-based offerings break away from the standard academic model to provide the specific skills and knowledge consumers are looking for.

While competition can be seen as a threat, it’s also an opportunity, particularly for extending the lifecycle. As former students decide to continue their education, the first place they’re going to look is their alma mater’s course catalog. By investing in more robust and flexible workforce development programs, institutions can strengthen existing alumni relations, with the added benefit of attracting new non-traditional students.

Beyond the lifecycle

When it comes to student engagement, there is no going back to “normal.” Student demographics are shifting and so, too, is the market. While the pandemic catalyzed change throughout higher education, institutions have the opportunity to accelerate their own evolution, embracing new technologies and strategies to nurture lifelong relationships with their constituents.

 Campus Life Student Engagement
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Look at the student lifecycle holistically and meet students' evolving needs throughout enrollment, student success, and alumni relations.


  • Two-year graduation rate increased from 16% to 19%
  • Six-year graduation rate increased from 38% to 50%
  • More effective communications across campus


We've increased our two-year graduation rate in the last four years from 16% to 19%. We've increased our six-year graduation rate over a seven-year period from 38% to 50%. And among community colleges, 50% is a very good number. Retention is difficult for any institution, at a community college particularly. We take all comers for the most part. Most of our programs are open enrollment. Some aren't. So nursing, respiratory therapy, or health care programs are not open enrollment, but most are.

So, to retain a student, we have to do all sorts of things to keep those students engaged. Unless we have data, we cannot understand who our students are, how they are behaving in class, what we're doing right as an institution and what we're doing wrong as an institution. So, it's very important to us to have data, and very good data, to support the stories.

We have a program called CRM Advise that helps our counselors, our faculty, and staff communicate with our students very effectively. From the time they enter class, and actually before they enter class, until they leave, we want those students to be able to understand if they are going off track in any way, whether it would be grades, whether it be attendance, Advise helps us understand that.

Students, they think we're on their back, we're asking for too much information and we're intruding. And then they quickly realize that, for them to be successful, they need, in many cases, a helping hand. And so, it's up to us as faculty, as staff, as administrators to help our students stay on track.

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Data fuels increased graduation rates

Muskegon Community College strengthens student-counselor communications with Ellucian CRM Advise

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Dale Nesbary
Muskegon Community College
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Muskegon Community College strengthens student-counselor communications with Ellucian CRM Advise


When students go to college, they often leave a safety net of support they've had for most of their lives. While professors and advisors serve as vital mentors, their attention is split between various responsibilities and increasingly virtual classes. Student well-being is in an ongoing crisis at a time in which many of the standard support tools are out of reach.

After undergoing radical changes in 2020, institutions must determine a new “normal” for their campus community in 2021. Just as learning models have been transformed across the world, student well-being support methods must evolve in turn, adapting to increasingly hybrid institutions at which advisors may never meet their advisees in person. Without face-to-face interventions, experts in higher education agree that monitoring student engagement and using that data will be critical to improving outcomes in the coming years. With the right methodology, institutions can create reliable networks of support across departments, providing vital resources to all students, exactly when they need them.

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, “The overall persistence rate dropped two percentage points to 73.9 percent for fall 2019 beginning college students, its lowest level since 2012.” In the face of ongoing pandemic-related challenges, institutions are reimagining retention strategies across campus, whether in-person or virtual. Comprehensive engagement plans combine personal communication with scalable response systems to support the students that need it the most. But in increasingly hybrid learning environments, how do you identify students in need? That’s where data comes in.

Taking a holistic view of student well-being

While the term “at-risk” has sparked debate in the education community—with alternatives such as “at-promise” being discussed, or a move away from comparable labels altogether—the term has historically described students who may have a higher probability of needing academic intervention. That probability can be difficult to calculate even in the best of circumstances, leaving little time for faculty to react when necessary. With the help of a full lifecycle CRM platform, data can inform proactive engagement, automating response systems for the entire student body and communicating needs to the appropriate advisors.

It’s critical to view each piece of data as exactly that: one part of the whole student experience. Like all data, at-risk categories can be used responsibly to support student and institutional goals, but they can also be mishandled. Belonging to an at-risk category alone is not a clear indication that a student needs additional support, nor should it be used to generalize identity groups. Instead, when used to develop personalized support plans, this information can direct advisors to the most appropriate resources.

Student well-being centers are often the main source of on-campus support, but that doesn’t mean they’re alone in their mission. Colleges and universities are already tracking data with the potential to effectively connect students with the resources they need. By putting that data into action, institutions can create networks of advisors, faculty, and support staff all working toward the common goal of positive learning outcomes. As institutions have mapped out strategies to retain students during the COVID-19 pandemic, the benefits of personalized communication have become increasingly clear. That “personal touch” is still an effective technique, though its form may vary. Automated responses will never replace guided, targeted advising, but effective data use can create a digital safety net, ensuring no student slips through the cracks.

Student on campus

Four types of data points that empower staff and improve student well-being

1. Student performance and engagement

Academic activity is often the first metric advisors use to evaluate success, as the path to graduation is paved with passing grades and consistent attendance. While advisors can react to low performance with additional resources, academic support begins long before the first day of class. By looking at a student’s prior use of tutoring services, remediation records, and high school GPAs, a data-informed advisor can create proactive support plans to best fit each student.

Classes aren’t the only measure of student well-being. Community-building and on-campus engagement are other key metrics. When participation wanes in clubs and student activities, the underlying reasons can vary, prompting advisors to reach out and determine the correct resources to provide. Alternatively, a student who is overloaded with extracurricular activities may benefit from paring down their commitments to focus on the organizations that are most important to them.

Social support may take different forms during the pandemic, shifting more virtually, but a sense of community remains vital to student persistence. Through data-informed mentorship, faculty can embrace a more active role in keeping students engaged and on track.

Data in action

To understand how different types of data are used to support student well-being, we can apply them to hypothetical scenarios, such as the one below.

Molly is a second-year student who recently changed her major to computer science. Eager to fulfill her degree requirements, she packs her schedule with necessary math courses. Molly’s advisor sees that she struggled with statistics last year, and recommends she use on-campus tutoring services to stay on track for graduation. To ensure the tutor is helping Molly’s performance, the advisor can monitor her assignment grades in relation to how often she uses those services.

Molly keeps up with her coursework for the first eight weeks, but her advisor sees a dip in assignment grades around the time she stopped seeing the tutor. With this information at their disposal, the advisor may recommend Molly resume tutoring for the rest of the semester.

Student performance and engagement metrics to track:

  • Grade point average
  • Assignment grades
  • Discussion board activity
  • Student club membership
  • ACT/SAT scores
  • Use of tutoring services
  • Class attendance

2. Financial information

Financial worries create significant obstacles to completion, which has only been exacerbated by COVID-19. In a study conducted by the HEDS Consortium in 2020, students are increasingly worried about meeting basic needs, with 38% of those surveyed concerned about paying bills, 21% about having a safe place to sleep, and 15% about having enough to eat day-to-day.

Student Information Systems (SIS) enable financial aid officers to guide students through every step of the aid process, not only ensuring all the logistical boxes get checked, but also identifying best-fit applicants for scholarship opportunities.

A modern SIS can go beyond financial aid advice, however. For example, the state of Oregon may soon introduce “benefits navigators” as a requirement for public colleges to alleviate food and housing insecurity within campus communities. By tracking access to meal plans, qualification for public assistance, and housing status, institutions can share that information with the appropriate parties to best connect students with resources on campus and beyond.

Data in action

An academic advisor notices one of their students, Jeff, has a hold on his account because of an overdue bill. The hold exacerbates Jeff’s financial precarity, as he needs an official copy of his transcript for upcoming scholarship applications. Using a CRM platform, the advisor can coordinate directly with the financial aid office, who may recommend Jeff enroll in a tuition payment plan. Once the hold is removed, Jeff can then apply for additional scholarships to help fund his education.

Student financial security metrics to track:

  • Financial aid status
  • Scholarship eligibility
  • Meal plan usage
  • Housing information
  • Qualification for public assistance

3. Identification with underrepresented groups

According to a study cited by University Business, “First-generation students are 1.3 times more likely than their peers, whose parents experienced higher education, to leave an institution during their initial year.” Without familial experience in navigating college, these students may need additional guidance to succeed.

First-generation students represent a large at-risk population, but they’re not the only underrepresented group that could benefit from targeted support. Historically, students of color, non-traditional or “later-in-life” students, and veterans are among the groups who may feel alienated on campus.

While the Glossary of Education Reform cautions against “overgeneralizations that may stigmatize students” in identifying at-risk categories, when seen holistically, this matriculation data can inform institutions on how to best support a diverse campus community.

Data in action

Regina and Natalya are both international students with the same academic advisor. Coincidentally, they are both showing unusually low engagement and attendance rates in their first semester. Seeing this, the advisor reaches out to them individually to develop personalized response plans, and may ask if they have sources of community on campus.

Regina is active in several identity-based student organizations that provide her a robust support network, but Natalya discloses feelings of isolation. By talking through each of their specific needs, the advisor may determine that an absence of community is presenting an engagement challenge for Natalya as an international student, but that may not be the case for Regina. With this knowledge, the advisor can guide each student to the most helpful resources.

Data to track on historically underrepresented groups in higher education:

  • First-generation students
  • People of color
  • Veterans
  • International students

4. Accessibility needs

Many students struggled with accessibility challenges long before 2020, but the past few semesters have underscored how one-size-fits-all learning models fail to provide an inclusive education. Instead of seeking universal solutions, institutions must instead use data to track and meet the specific accommodations of each student.

“The pandemic has accelerated the conversation about disability accommodations on college campuses,” the Chronicle of Higher Education reports, “as requests long labeled impossible, such as remote learning and recorded lectures, were universally adopted overnight.” Whether or not these changes will hold true is a question for every institution to answer as they consider what it means for education to return to “normal.”

Whether classes are conducted in person or remotely, accommodations can be as unique as the students they support. By tracking accessibility needs, advisors can ensure that all their students are equipped for success before the start of each semester.

Data in action

Thomas is a returning student with a chronic illness. Virtual learning has allowed him to record lectures and engage with the material when he is feeling well enough to do so. Returning to in-person classes presents a challenge for Thomas, who worries his health will cause him to miss lectures and fall behind. A data-informed advisor will see that recordings are a necessary accommodation for Thomas to succeed and can help him coordinate that resource with his professors.

Data on specific accommodations that can be recorded in an SIS:

  • Use of transcription services
  • Wheelchair-accessible equipment
  • Screen-reading software
  • Flexible assignment scheduling
  • Lecture recordings

Student wellness activities

While personalized advising is the best and most reliable method for supporting student well-being, institutions can provide regularly scheduled wellness activities to help alleviate stress and encourage self-care practices across the campus community.

If a portion of your student body is learning remotely, consider offering at-home or virtual variations of these activities. Additionally, for accessibility reasons, consider providing a range of options with varying levels of physical engagement so all students can benefit from these programs.

Here are a few examples of student wellness activities to offer at your institution:

  • In-person and/or on-demand yoga classes
  • Guided meditation recordings
  • Stress-management workshops
  • Open mental health discussions, led by trained counselors
  • Therapy dog days

Build support systems that will last

While student success depends on a variety of factors, institutions can provide personalized support at-scale with the right advising platform. By leveraging key data, advisors can use holistic views of their students’ experiences to coordinate timely action across departments and promote well-being for every member of the community.

Powering innovations
Teaser Text

Just as learning models have been transformed across the world, student health and wellness support methods must evolve in turn, adapting to increasingly hybrid institutions at which advisors may never meet their advisees in person.

Bimm Students

Ellucian Solutions to Improve User Experience, Support BIMM’s Expansion Goals

July 13, 2021 – RESTON, Va. and EAST SUSSEX, England– Ellucian, the leading higher education technology solutions provider, today announced that The BIMM Group, the largest specialist provider of creative arts education in the UK, has selected Ellucian to modernise its technology operations.  A new Ellucian customer, BIMM joins more than 1,100 institutions worldwide that are in the cloud with Ellucian.

BIMM will be using Ellucian Banner Student with Ellucian Managed Cloud, a student information system (SIS) to support registration, enrolment, grading, advising, and course planning. In addition, BIMM’s suite of Ellucian cloud-based solutions will include CRM Recruit, CRM Advise, Intelligent Learning Platform (ILP) and Ethos, to enable future growth and development in a connected environment. Implementing these solutions across BIMM’s colleges and future colleges will automate processes to improve efficiencies and ensure consistency with an improved experience for students and staff. BIMM’s technology modernisation will make it easier to incorporate new colleges in the future. Ellucian’s cloud-based solutions support institutional transformation, student engagement and success across all stages of the student lifecycle.

“Today the BIMM Group has 8 colleges across Europe, serving the music industry established through strategic acquisitions and new campus roll-outs.  As part of strategic diversification, BIMM has also moved into the broader creative arts education market with the acquisition of performing arts and film schools, consolidating BIMM as a hub for its three creative arts areas: Music, Performing Arts and Filmmaking,” said David Jones-Owen, Chief Operating Officer, The BIMM Group.  “With over 8,000 students and to continue to grow, the institution needed a scalable student record system, and we look forward to implementing the Banner product which will enhance our student experience and streamline business processes across multiple geographies and curriculum areas.”

“Leveraging our cloud solutions, BIMM’s unique model will realize the benefits of a modern technology ecosystem, including seamless integrations, resiliency and scalability. Efficiencies gained will span their growing footprint across Europe,” said Darren Hunt, Senior Vice President and Managing Director EMEA and APAC, Ellucian. “We welcome BIMM to the Ellucian customer community and look forward to helping them meet their strategic goals for improved business operations and expansion.”

About BIMM

BIMM provides university-level education courses in modern music, performing arts, and filmmaking to over 8,000 students across 12 colleges in the UK, Ireland, and Germany. It has established itself as the market leader through a long-standing commitment to providing the highest quality creative arts education, allowing students to maximise their career potentials.

The BIMM Group is made up of BIMM Institute, Institute for Contemporary Theatre, Performers College, Northern Ballet School, and Screen and Film School. This wide network of colleges provides unique opportunities for students to collaborate creatively on projects with others working in music, performing arts, and film.


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  • Students get a real-time, complete picture of their progress toward a degree
  • Registration is faster and easier than ever
  • Advisors have more time to make deeper connections with students


Hear a board member, a student, and a dean share their perspectives on how Ellucian Colleague Student Planning helps Mercer County Community College guide their students to on-time graduation. 


Alexandra Salas, dean of the division of innovation, online education, and student success at Mercer County Community College:

Some of the benefits of Colleague Student Planning is that it gives us the flexibility to help students help themselves. Whether you're a part-time advisor, a student success coach, whether you're a faculty member, whether you're new in this whole scheme of advising, if you talk to a student, you can note-take that interaction.  

And then the appropriate person will be able to go back and see exactly when the student was taken care of, what they discussed, and then they can immediately address those students’ concerns. It's a great tool to keep our internal communications in one place in terms of advising.  

It's a wonderful tool for retention, and also for the student because it gives them that level of independence where they can begin to see what their academic plan is going to look like a couple of semesters out. Plus, they can track their progress. 

Oscar Trigueros, student, Mercer County Community College: 

Colleague Student Planning is good to see where you're at, at Mercer. What's your GPA? What classes are you currently enrolled in? What classes are still left to be taken? Let's say I don't want to be a liberal arts major anymore. Maybe I want to do business administration. I could just see the new program.  

It'll tell me, OK, you've already satisfied English 101, 102. You just need to take these remaining courses. It's very useful when it comes to that. It also helps you register courses. It tells you what needs to be taken according to the major. So, it already tells you what needs to be done.  

If I wanted to register before, I would need to get in the line at enrollment services, maybe wait 30 minutes. Whereas now I could just go online and find that out in a minute. It's a lot easier. 

Rob Schreyer, dean of health professions, Mercer County Community College:

Colleague Student Planning has had a significant impact on students that I've worked with, and one that really sticks out—where a student had come to me very frustrated and concerned because she thought that she might be running out of financial aid, and that she wasn't necessarily close to achieving her degree of choice. And through using Student Planning, I was able to show her that she could not only look at the track that she was on with her current major, but also be able to switch majors and see how many of those courses would apply to different majors and related fields.  

She actually identified that she was only a few courses away from graduating in a field and a major that she actually would have preferred to have from the start. So, she was really empowered by that, and was then able to go on and complete within the next semester. Those examples are on a regular basis at this point. I think a number of students being able to look at the information on their own, identify the areas of need, identify whether or not they're on track, is something that they're accustomed to doing in other areas of their life. And now to have that in education will truly empower them and motivate them to be able to complete their degrees.  

The impact that Colleague Student Planning is going to have on faculty is really giving them the opportunity to engage with the student, to be able to show the student their progress, and utilizing Student Planning, and Ellucian as a whole. The faculty will have the ability to be truly autonomous in helping implement those changes without necessarily having to go through the process of calling and emailing multiple people. Just doing it automatically, putting notes in, so that everybody's aware and ultimately serving the student in the best manner.  

Students chart their own course to a degree

With Ellucian Colleague® Student Planning, students play a larger role in degree planning.

Alexandra Salas
Dean of the Division of Innovation, Online education, and Student Success
Mercer County Community College
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With Ellucian Colleague® Student Planning, students play a larger role in degree planning.


  • Compiled data from multiple systems
  • Easier to analyze data from one area
  • Centralized data keeps focus on students


My top priority in my role is to work with my staff in providing and meeting the strategic directions of our institutions and providing the needs that they want to achieve for our students, and our faculty, and our staff.


As we looked at the student needs, we didn't really have anything to focus on relationship management with our students. And so, it made sense to move to Advise. In CRM Advise, we're able to compile data from multiple systems.

So, we can combine that data into one single area and analyze that data much easier. To have all the data together, to focus on the student—for what they need to do next in their academic career, towards the graduation—and look at all that data jointly has really been helpful in identifying other needs of the student that helped to their success and retention.

Focusing on what students need to succeed

Texas Tech University System centralizes data with Ellucian CRM Advise

Texas Tech hero image on purple background
Kay Rhodes
Chief Information Officer
Texas Tech University System
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Texas Tech University System centralized data with Ellucian CRM Advise, making it easier to identify what students need and help them continue toward graduation.


  • Data sets enable better trend reporting and more accurate forecasting
  • An integrated solution saves staff time and effort
  • Dashboards offer enhanced monitoring capabilities, customizable views, and user-friendly data visualization 


Becki Cardenas, senior director of enrollment management, Alverno College 

One of the biggest enrollment issues that we have is we’re very densely populated with a lot of great universities or institutions. So really trying to find how to best reach out to that student and get them to engage with you is really key in our future right now, trying to figure out how can we get to our enrollment goals with those problems.  


We began using Ellucian CRM Recruit in 2014 because we saw a lot of gaps in what we were able to do to recruit new students. A lot of effort was being wasted because we were using a variety of different products, but none of them integrated with each other, and so they were living in little silos.  

The stakeholders at Alverno really looked to the admissions office, and then ultimately to the Ellucian CRM Recruit product to give us some data sets that can help us with trend reporting.

So, we have created several dashboards that our VP of enrollment will use to monitor where we are at. Are we trending towards/getting towards our goal? Are we falling behind? Where there are opportunities where we could maybe push our goals even further because a new subset of students are applying that we hadn't anticipated originally?  

We’re able to do a lot better forecasting because of the data sets that we're pulling out of Recruit. We also can look at our trends from the past three to four recruitment years and really determine—are we on trend to hit our enrollment goals? Where are we seeing opportunities for further engagement?  

Since we started using Ellucian CRM Recruit, we did have an increase this past fall in enrollment, and we're hoping to kind of duplicate again this coming fall.  

I would say it has a lot to do with the fact that we're able to communicate more effectively with each of the student populations that we're trying to reach.  

Using data to transform prospect engagement

How Alverno College increased enrollment by 15% with Ellucian CRM Recruit.

Two students talking
Becki Cardenas
Senior Director of Enrollment Management
Alverno College 
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How Alverno College increased enrollment by 15% with Ellucian CRM Recruit.


  • Effective retention of IT staff 
  • IT helps leadership achieve key goals 
  • Muskegon Community College has access to elite IT staff


Dale Nesbary, President, Muskegon Community College 

Technology drives most of what we do on campus. And we like to say that we're technology-informed institutions, but to a certain extent we're technology-driven institutions.   

Technology has supported any number of initiatives that we have on campus. And for me, as president, I wanted to see our student success initiative move forward. Managed Services has helped Muskegon meet our organizational goals. Our IT staff, and the broader Ellucian staff, bring people to the table that we simply couldn't bring to the table.  

Our technology management services from Ellucian began in 2005. That was a few years before I came on board, but we selected Ellucian because we were a home-grown system. We had staff on campus, but they lacked in certain skill sets. Ellucian filled in the gaps.  

Do we have challenges with respect to keeping skilled IT staff on board? The short story is yes, we do. But we've been able to keep them on board, from what I understand, more effectively than other institutions, because they are paid well, we provide them with professional development services through the institution. Even though they're not technically our employees, many of them were with us prior to coming to Ellucian. So, we think they are our employees.  

I'll use an example. Our chief information officer, Mike Alstrom, has been with us for 20 years. He brings student success materials to our table that some of our student success staff don't. I think it's very important to have a chief information officer on cabinet. I've gotten some push back from that by the way. Why do we have the tech guy sitting here? And my response is, frankly, because he provides me with better information than you do. 

A technology partnership that drives success

How Muskegon Community College maintains and empowers an effective IT staff.

Graduate in cap and gown
Dale Nesbary
Muskegon Community College 
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How Muskegon Community College maintains and empowers an effective IT staff.


  • Single system to manage support
  • Improved communication with students
  • More proactive engagement with students


Hawkeye Community College is a public two-year institution with campuses located throughout the Cedar Valley in Iowa. The college serves approximately 5,000 students and is focused on providing a high-quality, affordable education to learners at a variety of stages—from those fresh out of high school to adult learners returning to college.

Because the institution serves such a wide variety of students with different needs and expectations, Hawkeye Community College began looking for a CRM system that would allow it to more easily support student engagement and build a foundation for student success. “Hawkeye is a mix of urban and rural students creating a diverse campus with unique needs,” says Lisa Ciesielski, associate director of advising and orientation at Hawkeye Community College. “This presents challenges in the needs of students. We work with many students where finances are a concern, and in many cases transportation can be an issue.” In addition, many of the students who come to Hawkeye are balancing full-time careers or family commitments.

Hawkeye Community College leadership engaged higher ed consultants and experts to help them establish a vision of “Hawkeye for the Future,” and examined which tools—whether technological or cultural—might be required to help the institution bolster student success.

Hawkeye ultimately chose Ellucian CRM Advise to provide the critical functionality needed for student success goals, allowing the institution to have a singular view of their students for improved outreach and support.


In the spring of 2018, the institution launched its alert portal for a portion of the faculty. Almost immediately, `more than 100 alerts were submitted. Hawkeye then onboarded the remaining faculty in the fall, and the institution is already seeing greater synergy among faculty, staff, and students. “It is great to see how the system is allowing staff and faculty to work together to help students,” says Ciesielski. “People are coming together and providing student assistance more proactively.”

The new system has greatly increased the working relationship between the student advising team and the faculty. Through the portal, Hawkeye’s faculty not only submit alert notifications, but also receive status updates so they can provide seamless support in the classroom for those students who need it. This is especially important as Hawkeye has seen a rise in mental health and college preparedness issues among its student population. The institution now has staff aligned to support these students—and the ability to reach out and help those who may not be prepared for college.

Read the full customer story

Proactive engagement bolsters student success

Hawkeye Community College brings together faculty and staff to improve student outreach

Hawkeye Community College campus
Lisa Ciesielski
Associate Director of Advising and Orientation
Hawkeye Community College
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Here’s how Hawkeye Community College improved student engagement.


  • Campus-wide student data integration 
  • Improved processes for case notes and early alerts 
  • Ability to improve student success models over time


“Our students balance so much more than academics and are often too busy to seek out or access resources,” says Natalyn Marlaire, director of advising and services at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC). “If they’re not coming to us, we’re coming to them—in person, by text, by email, through the web. And when we’re proactive, what we’re really saying is, ‘You may not know you need these resources, but you need them.’” 

“This kind of outreach only works if our student communications are streamlined and everyone involved can easily see the same data about the students we serve.”

Since 2012, Marlaire has helped lead an overhaul of CVTC’s processes for student advising. Students’ lives are more complex than ever, and they’re much more likely to persist when provided timely assistance. 

The college supports its approximately 11,000 students with proactive outreach that includes resources offered both in-person and online. To do so, the college needed a single, integrated system to handle the flow of information between departments, faculty, and staff across campus. 

“This kind of connectivity to student information, easily and quickly accessed, helps faculty, staff, and leadership see the whole student,” says Jessica Schwartz, registrar at CVTC. “Which means they can support the whole student.” 

To enable that level of engagement with its students, CVTC decided on Ellucian CRM Advise—download the case study to learn how the CRM system is helping the school meet its goals. 


According to Schwartz, faculty members are often students’ first and most trusted option for services and support—but CVTC’s culture of strong relationship-building between students and faculty can have drawbacks if not every instructor has the same information, or even the right information, to help a student.

“Faculty shouldn’t be expected to understand all the ins and outs of financial aid and registration, and the rules around, say, a student veteran dropping a class and suddenly causing an automatic loss of benefits,” says Schwartz. “But they do need to know if a conflict exists and to reach out to Student Services to assist the student.”

In the new CRM system, faculty members can submit an early alert. That triggers members of the student success team to proactively reach out to students with informed support, direction, and timely information. Faculty members can view the interventions the student success team has provided to the students through a customized faculty dashboard. Together, they can deliver the efficiency and accuracy of student services and data that are so crucial to today’s college experience.

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Helping students before they even know they need help

At Chippewa Valley Technical College, proactive outreach keeps students on track.

Two adult students studying
Jessica Schwartz
Chippewa Valley Technical College
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At Chippewa Valley Technical College, proactive outreach keeps students on track.

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