Personal service Stacey Kostell, director of undergraduate admissions, displays some of the office's recruiting materials, including view books and its new Web site. In August, the office initiated a customer relations management system that tracks every contact with prospective students and allows admissions counselors to personalize communications.
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
Edit embedded media in the Files Tab and re-insert as needed.
Today’s students are tech-savvy, and to capture their attention Illinois uses a variety of electronic media – YouTube, online chats, instant messages and blogs – in addition to print publications, fairs and other traditional vehicles to recruit them.
On Sept. 1, the Office of Admissions initiated a new Web site based upon Web 2.0 principles – it’s interactive and encourages visitors to be creative and to communicate with each other. Site visitors can view campus photos, watch videos and post messages to the message board for feedback from current students and/or admissions counselors.
Admissions’ YouTube site – www.youtube.com/illinoisadmissions – has about 240 videos for prospective students, some of which are used in e-mail “e-cards,” such as the video “Why Do You Belong at Illinois?” Snippets of the videos also are used in presentations.
At www.oar.uiuc.edu/future/belong/, visitors can customize a copy of the electronic view books, the recruiting booklets that provide overviews of academic programs and campus life along with information about tuition, the application process and other vital information for prospective students. The print view book is available with five different covers, but if prospective students prefer their own photos, they can customize their own covers. The view books and the Web site utilize bold graphics and feature numerous students talking about their experiences at Illinois.
“We have a very young, dynamic group in the Office of Communications for Enrollment Services that produces our publications for us,” said Keith Marshall, associate provost for enrollment management, who oversees both the Office of Admissions and the Office of the Registrar. “They use students heavily to do the graphic design and the writing so it has the right look and feel for students. What we’ve learned over the years is that students want to hear the stories from their peers. They don’t want to hear it from an authority figure. We go to great lengths to try and meet them on their own terms and to have their peers tell the story of the university, rather than us telling the story for them.”
Site visitors can vicariously experience a “Day in the Life” of students at Illinois through a video diary that documents a typical day for 10 students in various academic programs. In the video, which is a montage, the diarists take viewers along to a typical lecture class, to their jobs at WILL-TV and at a dining hall, to recreational activities and to campus resources such as La Casa Cultural Latina and Krannert Art Museum.
Additionally, seven students are sharing their experiences at Illinois through blogs on the Admissions Web site, as are four admissions counselors. Site visitors can sort the blog posts by 16 predetermined topics to locate and read the information that most interests them.
“We began using the blogs last year,” said Stacey Kostell, director of undergraduate admissions. “It’s a friendly way for students and their parents to ask questions anonymously. We don’t edit what the students write, and we respond to every post. The posts by admissions counselors have 2,000 entries.”
“We’ve made the site something that students will continue to use throughout the college selection process, and we’re constantly updating and revising it based on the feedback that we receive,” Kostell said. “Visitors say that the overall quality is top-notch. We hear that from other institutions as well, and get lots of requests from them about it.”
“I think we can safely say we’re on the cutting edge of recruiting students,” Marshall said. “Five years ago, we were an ‘also ran,’ doing the same things as everyone else. A lot of our competitors keep an eye on what we’re doing.”
In August, admissions activated a customer relations management system called Talisma, which staff members are using to track every interaction with a student and to personalize communications with them. Talisma enables the admissions counselors – who are assigned to every state, county and high school – to go to the Web and view information about the student’s interests and every previous contact with them, whether it was a phone call, a letter or a conversation at a college fair.
Talisma may be rolled out to other campus units in a year or so in order to coordinate recruitment efforts campuswide. “We’ll be able to see who’s talking to whom and make sure we’re not bombarding a student with material,” Marshall said. “I think it’s going to be an exciting way to change the dynamic and add that personal touch. We’re trying very hard to personalize communications, which is challenging when you have 22,000 applicants.”
Enrollment Management is exploring the use of iTunesU, and has started producing more publications aimed at parents because mom and dad, Web savvy or not, still are the primary influence on young adults’ college choices.
OAR splits, creating two distinct units
By Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
Amicable split The Office of the Registrar, headed by Carol Malmgren, is splitting from the Office of Admissions effective Nov. 1. Facility Management and Scheduling, which schedules classes, final exams, and Registered Student Organization events, also reports to Malmgren.
Photo by Charles Hannon
Edit embedded media in the Files Tab and re-insert as needed.
Effective Nov. 1, the Office of Admissions and Records will split into two discrete units – the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the Office of the Registrar. Stacey Kostell, director of undergraduate admissions, will continue to head the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Carol Malmgren will continue as registrar. Kostell and Malmgren, along with the Office of Financial Aid, report to Keith Marshall, associate provost for enrollment management.
Since OAR was established in 1947, the functions of admissions and of registration have evolved over the years into two distinctly different units that serve many of the same constituents but during different stages in students’ involvement with the university.
Illinois was one of a few major universities organized with the admissions and registration functions in one office, a model that has served Illinois well over the years but doesn’t reflect the units’ current configurations of duties, Marshall said. “During the last four years, we have moved much like many public institutions from being an admitting university to being a recruiting university. We’ve reorganized OAR staff members and processes three or four times to align resources to reflect that new reality and to array resources to accomplish campus strategic planning goals. The result is that we have two units now that are very different in their mission and scope.”
The reorganization into two units offers several benefits for the units and the rest of campus, especially providing more clarity about which office to contact for various matters, Marshall said. “This puts us in a position to be more competitive, more nimble and flexible and serve the clientele better,” Marshall said.
Malmgren, who served as director of Facility Management and Scheduling as well as other administrative positions on campus prior to that, took over as interim registrar in 2005.
When Malmgren was appointed registrar in April 2006, FMS was realigned into the Office of the Registrar to continue reporting to her. “Having FMS together with staff members who handle tasks at the end of the instructional process has really allowed us to better serve students, especially with regard to how their course sections and their registration are set up,” Malmgren said. “This activity is all foundational to having a successful grade collection process.”
The Office of the Registrar is the functional unit that supports the student information system, including settings for student registration, seat management, tuition and fees assessment, and many graduation processes. The unit also posts study abroad and graduate transfer credit to students’ records.
Inquiries about their tuition bills, including rate fluctuations, tuition differentials for programs such as engineering and life sciences are some of the common questions that staff members in the Office of the Registrar assist students and parents with.
“This was the first year that the students who had the four-year tuition guarantee either graduated or were put into a new cohort,” said Malmgren, referring to the Truth in Tuition law that was enacted beginning with the 2004-2005 academic year and mandated that all state universities guarantee flat tuition rates for incoming new students for four years. “We worked with the Office of the Provost to issue an e-mail notification to apprise continuing students that their guaranteed rate was expiring and that their tuition would increase to the rate for students who entered in the fall semester 2005. A lot of students were pleasantly surprised; they thought that their tuition would be increasing to the fall semester 2008 rate for new students.”
The Office of the Registrar, which also assists students from graduation onward by producing graduates’ diplomas and transcripts for alumni, generates about 100,000 transcripts annually for current and former students. Malmgren is exploring technologies to deliver documents electronically that also ensure authenticity and immutability, and processes that would eliminate use of paper forms and manual data entry.
Additionally, FMS schedules about 118,000 events each year, including Registered Student Organization events, classes and final exams. FMS also produces the Course Catalog and the Class Schedule and collaborates across campus to ensure classroom space is in line with institutional goals.
This semester, in preparation for remodeling Lincoln Hall, FMS coordinated with Facilities and Services Division and various academic units to relocate classes from Lincoln Hall to other spaces on campus, not an easy task since 350 class sections are held each semester in Lincoln Hall.
“A big bonus was that the School of Music entered into an agreement with us whereby we updated the facilities in Smith Music Hall and began offering many of the large lectures there,” Malmgren said. “We also increased use of Foellinger Auditorium for large lectures. If the new Business Instructional Facility had not come online this fall as well, we would have been in dire straits for classrooms. We were able to shift a lot of the business classes and faculty members into BIF, freeing up space in the Armory and other locations on campus.”
Office of the Registrar
In a typical academic year, the office:
- Maintains the permanent academic record for more than 1 million former and current students.
- Produces 100,000 official academic transcripts and 10,000 diplomas.
- Collects and records 370,000 grades submitted by instructors.
- Schedules 100,000 events in general purpose classrooms for Registered Student Organizations.
- Conducts on-site FERPA training for 200 school officials.
- Schedules 12,000 individual class sections and 6,000 final examinations.
- Provides information for 4,300 enrollment verifications.
- Provides information for 14,500 degree verifications.
- Certifies 250 Bronze Tablet awardees.
- Certifies 600 student athletes for NCAA eligibility and 300 athletes for club sport competition.
- Posts academic credit for 1,500 study abroad courses.
- Performs 3,600 graduate student degree audits.
- Handles about 5,000 phone calls related to registration or tuition.