College Admissions process?
November 24, 2007 7:23 PM   Subscribe

I took a job as director of admissions for a post-high school internship. Prospective interns have to go through an application process to attend. What is concerning is that last year we had approx. 1500 applications started but only 448 made it. We denied approx. 50. The rest either dropped out or never finished their application. This doesn't seem very efficient to me but I'm not sure if I'm even in line with a traditional college. So, if you have ever worked in an Admissions Office for a college: 1. What percentage of those who start an app actually make it? 2. During training what should I teach first? Product knowledge or phone/customer service skills? Thanks for the help!
posted by honorguy7 to Education (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I haven't got numbers for you, I have worked at university taking applications for graduate entry into a teacher education program.

I can tell you that many people apply to more than one place, and the closing date and notification dates may automatically disqualify the organisation if they are much earlier and later than other similar organisations. Of course, some people accept the first offer, some accept the offer that appeals to them most, and there you are, left with 1/3 applicants.

Regarding skills - try teaching them together, but to relieve the stress of your inexperienced staff, give them a basic product knowledge so they can answer questions, and suggest to them, if someone throws a question at them they can't answer, it's fine to say, "please hold (no longer than x time) while I find out", or "I don't have that information to hand, may I call/email you back?"

Remind your staff to make their own notes of tricky questions etc, so they can refer back to them next time the problem occurs. It might even help to facilitate this by giving them a binder on day 1, telling them to write their names on it, and giving them handouts regularly to put in there.
posted by b33j at 8:05 PM on November 24, 2007

Is it a paid or unpaid internship? That right there could have a lot to do with the attrition rate. Maybe your application process is not clear and people don't realize something important (like it is unpaid) until they are halfway through the process. Take a look at your application and marketing materials and see if it sends a consistent clear message about the internship. People have a lot of choices in internships so maybe yours is their Plan B if their first choice doesn't work out which would also explain the lag. Look at the questions you ask on the application and maybe add a couple of marketing questions like how did they hear about the program and what other programs they have applied to and what are their future goals related to the internship. If you collect good marketing information you should be able to pinpoint where the weak spots are in your process.

Also, it wouldn't just be your staff--admissions folks are generally friendly and helpful but sometimes other areas of student services such as financial aid are not sending out the same vibe to prospective applicants. Admissions and retention is really the job of everyone who works on a campus, not just one office. You can teach both areas you mentioned at the same time.
posted by 45moore45 at 8:54 PM on November 24, 2007

How are you attracting recruits? Are they strangers to you/the program when they initially apply? (That is, are you getting them from some source other than alumni of your program?) If so, having a third of your initial applicant pool complete the application process is a pretty good rate of success. When dealing with organizations they don't know personally, people often begin something and then decide not to finish for a variety of reasons and you should expect high attrition rates and build them into your marketing estimates.

I work for an organization that runs an internship program for college students, and we expect each year that between half and two thirds of applicants will not complete their applications, and anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of accepted applicants (we accept fewer than 10 percent of applicants who complete the application process) will drop out or choose some other opportunity over us at some point in the process. Attrition among interns, especially young interns, is high.

I have no idea what the drop off rates look like for college applications, but internship applications are nothing like college applications; they're like job applications, and you should expect that a lot of your applicants are going to take other jobs unless they job you are offering them is the best job the world has ever seen.

If you want to talk further about this, feel free to send me MeFi mail.
posted by decathecting at 11:28 PM on November 24, 2007

Are you talking about an online application form? I have started many many many more of these than I've actually completed. Some reasons why I stop half way through...

I hated the web form, they required some kind of javascript or god forbid activeX. (WHY, for a simple form?!)

They wanted an essay or "personal statement" or anything else written that wasn't simple state-the-facts. I either didn't care about whatever it was enough to write something stupid, or I started in on the writing and got bored/busy and gave it up as a bad deal.

The form made it clear to me that I was in over my head ("please limit your list to no more than thirty of your most important community service projects").

I started filling out the form right away, while I was still doing research about whatever I was applying for. During my research I decided I didn't want to apply after all.

I found something better, or received a better offer elsewhere after I started the form but before I finished.

I just got bored.

They wanted more personal details than I was willing to give. (No you may NOT have my SSN, you can have it after I'm accepted--if I am.) Actually I think this one bears repeating, several times... people aren't (all) stupid, they know that certain forms are basically just fishing for unnecessary information so they can try to sell you stuff.
posted by anaelith at 6:00 AM on November 25, 2007

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