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Purdue University and prospective students benefit from improved admissions process

Hobsons education solutions streamline communications and recruiting on the Indiana campus
University Business, October 2012

At a school the size of Purdue University, just scheduling campus visits by prospective students could overwhelm an admissions department. Add accepted student receptions and recruiting events, and the pressure can seem worse than for a high school senior awaiting an acceptance letter. That’s precisely why Hobsons’ solutions, including its Education CRM Suite, made sense to Purdue, which has about 30,000 undergrads in its 11 colleges and schools in West Lafayette, Indiana.

“The Events and Interviews product really made Hobsons stand out from other vendors,” said Dan Derflinger, senior assistant director of electronic communications in Purdue University’s Office of Admissions. “Now students can register directly for any of the four daily campus visits or for the over 120 special events we host throughout the year. We believe this greater efficiency has contributed to an uptick in the number of campus visitors, and ultimately, in student enrollment.”

Hobsons has built its reputation on helping colleges and universities streamline the application, admissions, and communications process. Purdue uses multiple Hobsons products to improve efficiency throughout its campus.

The Purdue roll-out began in August 2009 in Admissions and with two Purdue colleges. The next August, the other nine colleges joined, and in August 2011, core recruitment and yield offices—such as Financial Aid and Orientation—were added. The university now has about 400 regular Hobsons users ranging from people entering prospective student information into the system, making or taking calls, creating or sending emails, monitoring chats and more. Each college has one person who actually sends emails or letters generated by others at the school.

They use enrollment management-built filters to avoid mishaps, such as inviting a young man to a Women in Engineering reception, for example. The efficiencies don’t end there. Take Telecenter, for example. Purdue staff call prospective students to offer help with applications, answer questions or encourage them to accept an offer of admission. Prior to using Hobsons, staff would jot down notes from the call, then manually update the system—eventually. “The immediacy of the student data in Telecenter, as with all of our communication, is critical,” Derflinger said. “It would be very poor customer service if we were encouraging students to accept their offers of admission if they already had.” Not only are calls now current, they’re plentiful.

“The first year we had Hobsons, we were making two to three times the number of calls than we did previously, mainly because people making the calls could quickly process the call and move to the next one,” he said. The efficiencies Purdue has built into communication and outreach extend to the website, where visitors can use Hobsons’ Answer to get information based on questions they type. And the Group Chat product allows Purdue to host conversations between prospective students or parents and university representatives such as current students, faculty or financial aid personnel. “Ultimately what led to our roll-out success was the two pilot colleges saying ‘The product’s great! Yes, it was a little bit of work in the beginning, but the benefits were enormous,’ ” Derflinger said.

Those benefits include:

  • A 3 percent increase in campus visits from 2009-2010—when it was piloted at two colleges—to 2010-2011.
  • A 7 percent increase in campus visits from 2010-2011, when all colleges started using Hobsons, until 2011-2012.
  • 2.4 million emails sent during the 2010-2011 recruitment cycle, 400,000 of which came from individual colleges.

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