Educational institutions are dedicated to ensuring students not only graduate but also transition into sustainable, meaningful employment. However, the reality is that some students may temporarily halt their academic pursuits, posing a challenge for institutions in reengaging and supporting their success.

Bringing a compelling real-world success story, we are delighted to introduce Anika Olsen, the Vice President of Enrollment Management at Northern Arizona University, who will unravel the remarkable journey that brought back an impressive 2,500 students within a mere three and a half years, all through their partnership with myFootpath. In this exclusive session, Anika will impart her valuable insights, shedding light on the effective strategies that drove this achievement, all without the need for extensive internal staff capacity. Through this partnership with myFootpath, Northern Arizona University witnessed a significant 3% annual increase in enrollments, backed by a proven framework for reengaging with stop-outs. When the time came to transition these strategies in-house, NAU was well-prepared for the task, setting a remarkable example for other institutions.

With over 25 years of experience in higher education, Anika Olsen brings a profound understanding of the inner workings of educational institutions and the crucial role that student services play in fostering success and a sense of belonging on campus. Her extensive background as a consultant for EAB Enrollment Services has allowed her to advise some of the nation’s most esteemed colleges and universities on improving and modernizing their operational and recruitment strategies.

Leading this enlightening conversation is Gerry Henley, a seasoned professional who formerly served as the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Academic Technology Services at California State University.

Gerry: When it comes to re-enrolling students, it’s important to recognize that their needs and circumstances differ from those of entirely new students. The challenge arises in seamlessly integrating these new requirements and responsibilities into an organization that may not have been initially prepared or established specific processes for re-enrollment. How do you effectively navigate this transition?

Anika: Great question, and it didn’t happen overnight. I would say it’s something we’re still working towards. So we began this partnership in the later part of the fall of 2019, and we didn’t have any staff team that was like, oh, pick me, I want to do all of this work. It really required us to look internally into enrollment management in our one-stop as well as our admissions processing team. We then had to explain the need to that group and then reach out to advising, the registrar’s office, and academic affairs to make sure courses were offered when students wanted to re-enroll. And so it truly, truly was a cross-divisional effort and thankfully colleagues at NAU understood that this was a population that we had a moral obligation to go back to and give them a pathway and an on-ramp back to the institution. 

Gerry: You said that it didn’t happen overnight, but from what I’ve learned about you, it happened pretty fast. In terms of higher education’s timeline, do you want to talk about the benefits of the ReEngage NAU results? They really are amazing. 

Anika: Yeah, I’m very proud of these results. You can see the number of students impacted by our fourth year is over 2,500, which is phenomenal. We’re a campus of just over 28,000 grad and undergrad online students. And when we began this effort, we kind of assumed that a lot of students would be going back via online learning, and that’s true. But we also found that initially, a lot of students wanted to be back on the main campus or in one of the Arizona statewide campuses. Certainly, re-enrolled students bring revenue to the institution and that certainly has been amazing, especially in the last couple of years.

I’ll also say it did happen a little faster than we thought, but we also had very willing leaders ready to champion this work. The way this partnership is designed, it’s not for myFootpath to do it forever and ever for NAU. It’s to teach us along the way through the partnership to build that capacity. And so when we’ve had employees leave or move on to other opportunities, we’ve been able to think, okay, now planning ahead, do we want to reallocate this position to this effort knowing that in another year, year and a half, two years, we are going to be taking this work back? And so those have been awesome discussions amongst leadership across campus where we’re examining and trying to find efficiencies in our own system, which the myFootpath team has been very helpful with.

Gerry: That’s just wonderful. When you look at it, you have to think of it like an investment. Look at the return on the investment that you’ve made, you’ve gained almost 2,500 students—that’s almost a 10% increase in enrollment. And any campus would go wild about that type of increase and the funding. Now that’s the outcome that we all would like to achieve. Now, do you want to give us a little background on how you made this happen? 

Eager to learn more about the solutions that helped NAU bring back over 2,500 students? Watch the full recording for webinar 3 to dive deeper into the strategies universities can adopt to dismantle barriers and guide students toward graduation.