July 2, 2020
Las Vegas, N.M. – Summer enrollment at New Mexico Highlands University increased 3% despite the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to teamwork and maximizing the use of technology.
“First and foremost, the reason we were able to increase enrollment is that we had a collaborative and targeted effort between Strategic Enrollment Management, the Registrar’s Office, Information Technology Services and athletics,” said Benito Pacheco, strategic enrollment management director. “The work ethic of our Highlands staff was phenomenal.”
Pacheco said in addition, the Highlands University faculty and administration contributed to the enrollment gains.
“We made the most of a challenging situation during the pandemic by using a number of technology tools the university has at its disposal. For example, in the Strategic Enrollment Management Office, we were able to quickly convert staff from the office setting to working remotely at home, holding virtual office hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily,” Pacheco said.
Pacheco said Strategic Enrollment Management success coaches used Zoom videoconferencing technology so a prospective student could click on a link to meet online with a success coach face-to-face, much as if they were walking into an office.
“In addition, success coaches used Microsoft team software to reach out to current and prospective students, allowing them to reply instantly to questions via mobile phones. We also offered virtual tours as a way to experience campus,” Pacheco said.
Pacheco said Highlands admissions and recruitment staff also placed 5,000 phone calls to prospective and current students.
“While these calls were a low-tech approach, they were another effective personalized strategy,” Pacheco said.
Pacheco said another reason for the increased enrollment involved the entire Highlands campus community.
“Every Highlands department developed business continuity plans aimed at maintaining student services. University Relations was instrumental in making these plans easily accessible to prospective students on the website,” Pacheco said.
Pacheco said the total summer 2020 enrollment at Highlands is at 1,095 compared to 1,066 in summer 2019. He said summer enrollment is always much lower than during the regular academic year, with spring semester enrollment at 2,620.