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Episode #5

Using robust personas to recruit for graduate programs

Featuring Judith Stockmon Assistant Dean for Graduate Enrollment at American University College of Arts and Sciences
Using robust personas to recruit for graduate programs
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In This Episode

You’ll hear from Judith Stockmon who is the Assistant Dean for Graduate Enrollment at American University College of Arts and Sciences.

You'll hear her talk about:

  • how an on-going collection of data guides their ability to recruit
  • how her private sector experience shaped her view on enrollment as a consumer product now
  • how analyzing data has revealed critical insights on their student population
Judith Stockmon

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Host: You're listening to filling seats, the state of enrollment, marketing, and higher ed. Hosted by StudentBridge. In this podcast. You'll learn, what's working to grow shape and sustain enrollment. At colleges and universities directly for marketers thought leaders and ed tech innovators, because anyone can design a brochure, but not anyone can fill seats.

[00:00:30] Host: Welcome to episode five of fillings. And this episode you'll hear from Judith Stockman, the assistant Dean for graduate enrollment at American university college of arts and sciences. You'll hear Judith talk about how an ongoing collection of data guides, their ability to recruit how her private sector experience shaped her view on enrollment as a consumer product now, and how analyzing data has revealed critical insights on their student population.

[00:01:00] Host: Let's meet Judith.

[00:01:02] Judith Stockmon: I've worked in education for since God, 2009. God is a 2022. Oh my goodness. So I spent the last 15 years in the public sector. But I started out in the private sector. so I have,an MBA from the Wharton school and mid nineties, and I graduated from brown university in the late eighties.

[00:01:21] Judith Stockmon: So I've been around for a minute, but I started in the private sector doing marketing and,I worked as a consultant for a number of years. So I've been in a, kind of a consultive selling. For most of my career, but I worked in financial services. I worked for HBO and Showtime. I did a little media work.

[00:01:36] and then, I got married a bit of a cliche. I'm, moved to the DC area with my husband who works in, banking. he used to work , on wall street and I wanted to do more mission-driven work. Education has been transformative in my. So I knew that I would want to probably do something education-related at some point.

[00:01:54] Judith Stockmon: So , I lived in New York area for a number of years moving to the DC area. And, I had just had a child. It was time for me to, I could switch gears a little bit. So I want to use , my,consultative selling and marketing background and a more mission driven capacity and education.

[00:02:08] the opportunity to work in admissions in terms of education . I had an opportunity to do that and it just seemed to be a really good fit for me. I started out promoting, an eight MBA missions, and I was, basically promoting general management education. To,prospective MBA students and since 2015, I moved to the college of arts and sciences where I'm still kind of selling education, but it's to a, more of an arts and science graduate community.

[00:02:32] Judith Stockmon: And so I lead a small team where we do admissions and recruitment and operations. For over probably 50 different graduate programs. And our job is to go out and find the students. I do some marketing, but I do partner with, the university marketing we have. So we have overall marketing for the university.

[00:02:47] Judith Stockmon: Then every school has a marketing communications department. So my job is mostly program marketing, but I do work with the marketing communications team and building brand awareness and program marketing for our over 50 graduate programs

[00:03:01] Host: what are some of The most popular programs? What are the ones that are struggling that you're having to sell the hardest.

[00:03:11] Judith Stockmon: The hardest. Yes. So when I worked in a private sector, right then I did MBA admissions, which is a professional school. So it kind of mimicked a business background. So people who were interested in an MBA and how to sell that particular, degree was pretty straightforward.

[00:03:25] Judith Stockmon: Arts and sciences is a little trickier. my undergraduate work was an English literature and creative writing. Then I went in, went to business school and people always think that was an interesting turn of events, but I was attracted to arts and sciences because I, at my heart, I feel like I'm a writer and I love to read and I love literature, but, it is a tougher sell or a different kind of sell a different kind of opportunity to make.

[00:03:45] Judith Stockmon: The humanities and the sciences to graduate students. So that was a learning curve for me. The first couple of years here were just, well, okay, these aren't hungry, MBA students, these are, scientists and writers and sociologists. so learning that was a bit of a challenge, but the hardest part for us, for me, and I think for a lot of, leadership in the arts and sciences is that, Graduate degrees like sociology and anthropology.

[00:04:13] Judith Stockmon: It's not clear what the career track is. and getting a PhD is not the only option for it. There was a time where if you were, getting one of the masters of sociology, you're in route to a PhD in sociology and you would teach that is not as viable a path for a lot of students. So the hardest.

[00:04:29] Judith Stockmon: Uh,this job for me is developing value propositions for some of those softer degrees. the, the creative writing and the anthropology and the sociology and the literature. why should I study this program at this university at this time? Developing kind of personas and value propositions and. For some non-traditional degrees, at least from my background has been probably challenging, for me personally, but then where the university is right now, where the liberal arts programs and liberal arts graduate degrees aren't as in demand as say economics.

[00:05:06] so we have to dig deeper to find our students and we have to dig even deeper to find the right messages to make sure we're saying the things they need to hear in order to choose us for their graduate study. It is an uphill battle.

[00:05:19] Host: . So you said 50 graduate programs that you're recruiting for. How many total graduate students do you have in the college of arts and sciences? And how many are you bringing in each year

[00:05:30] so it varies by program, right? Some of our programs only bring in like three or four students and some bring in like over 20, we have over 900 graduate students. Across the whole college. and it varies by program, but every year we're charged with bringing in probably close to 200 5300 students.

[00:05:48] so that's across best as chemistry. That's statistics, as well as anthropology and, art history, all those programs, our team is charged with recruiting and our role is probably 60% operations , and then 40% for recruitment and marketing. The people who apply, we manage that whole application process.

[00:06:07] Judith Stockmon: In conjunction with faculty. We also recruit for all of those pieces.

[00:06:11] Host: .

[00:06:11] Host: I would love, if you could give an example of one of those personas, like , who is the person that you're recruiting for the creative writing master's program, or, any of that secret sauce that you would be willing to share? I'm just so curious.

[00:06:25] great questions , it evolves right. , so the personas are with regard to overall what are graduate students looking in a graduate program.

[00:06:33] and then what are, graduate students looking for a specific program? you know, we're in Washington DC. Part of our location is part of our value proposition. So we. For an economics program, for example, a persona, maybe someone who obviously wants to go earn a degree in a major city and usually as a city with a global focus.

[00:06:53] it's usually someone are, most of our econ students are probably 25 to 27 years old. we get some right on an undergrad, but most of them have had some work experience. There are people who have, they're not necessarily political, but there's someone who's interested in. World events. someone was interested in a, an international footprint that would give them a view to economic issues worldwide that has a global footprint, a school and a program that has connections to someone who is interested in working for the world bank or the IMF, who wants to work for a global organization would be a persona.

[00:07:28] Judith Stockmon: Usually we attract people who went to private undergrads because, It's graduate program. It's not cheap. so those students are typically come from, a private school often within the Northeast corridor. when we do attract students from all over the world, but a lot of our students are probably, educated somewhere within the Northeast quarter.

[00:07:46] Judith Stockmon: And then,in major kind of cities across the country. Like we have, students from like in New York and Boston and Philadelphia, but then a San Francisco and a Los Angeles as well, and a little bit in the south east. that's kind of a view of, the student who might be attracted to one of our econ programs.

[00:08:02] Host: That is super specific and also makes total sense. So I'm assuming that you're using all of that information to then target social ads. Is that

[00:08:11] Host: accurate?

[00:08:12] Judith Stockmon: yes. We use that information to target social ads. We use that information to recruit,

[00:08:17] Judith Stockmon: right? Like we collect a lot of data on, particularly in the last few years I was able to hire a data person and we collected a lot of data on where applications come from.

[00:08:26] Judith Stockmon: and we use that information to really Hunt and Peck for students to guide us. And where's the best place to find these students. And we use that for , our marketing initiatives, our social media campaigns, our email campaigns.

[00:08:39] Host: you went from years in the private sector to then coming into higher ed. What were some of the. Biggest takeaways or aha moments or realizations that you had that oh, this is different.

[00:08:53] Judith Stockmon: Oh so many. I don't want this to sound negative as it would going to come right out of my lips to say, but, universities in much of the public sector. There is a lot more consensus about. But typically in academia is that we love committees and the more people in the committee to solve a problem, the longer it takes to solve it, in the private sector, particularly as someone I knew, I worked for a lot of fortune 500 companies in the eighties.

[00:09:16] Judith Stockmon: It's very results driven. It's about okay, here. What be clear on the goals, be clear on how you're going to reach them and then reach them. Otherwise there'll be consequences and academia. It's more, uh, at the heart of a university or the faculty and the students. So I'm an administrator, so I'm important, but faculty research and bringing students in is a big part of what universities do.

[00:09:39] so when there are. Different ideas or initiatives. It can take a lot of time to build consensus, to get something done. So that was,a big change. And also, I think with university, this has changing and felt like it was build it and they will come. Like I came from, I had a marketing and a sales and a consulting background.

[00:09:56] Judith Stockmon: So I was very consumer driven very much what is the consumer saying? And let's try to meet that need, but universities, they feel like, no,

[00:10:03] Judith Stockmon: We have this amazing faculty and this incredible research they're doing incredible work. Students will find us. We don't really have to do too much.

[00:10:11] Judith Stockmon: They'll find us. And maybe there was a time with That was the case I've been in this business about 15 years now, but it certainly isn't the case. Now the whole notion of, oh, we have to do market segmentation. Oh, we have to do research. They're really fine. Why they want to get. Oh, we have to treat them like consumers.

[00:10:28] Judith Stockmon: What do you mean? I remember I was in a meeting years ago and I talked about education as a product and I think the faculties had just around.

[00:10:35] Judith Stockmon: And while it is a transformative product, there's nothing like an education. And what it can do for you, the notion of being consumer and market focused was really not a part of the discussion. At least when I first entered this business more so now, but that was a big difference from my private sector life.

[00:10:54] Host: What are some recent wins or successes that your team has seen in terms of market?

[00:10:59] I've been in this role since 2015, And I kind of built this department, there were some people who weren't here before, but some who are, and what we did is when I, first things I wanted to do was hire a , a director of data analytics.

[00:11:12] Judith Stockmon: We had someone who kind of did the numbers, but not really. getting that role established and elevating, it was one of the first things I wanted to do because I wanted to do, data-driven enrollment strategy and data-driven, enrollment marketing. so that was. A little unheard of.

[00:11:27] Judith Stockmon: So we spent the last few years collecting data. So we know who our students are. We know what they, like. We know where they're coming from. We know where their backgrounds are from. We know where they went to undergrad. we have a sense of, their sensitivities with regard to different subjects.

[00:11:42] we've done surveys. So the wind has the winds have been developing these personalities. We did hire agencies to help us. so we haven't done it in a vacuum, but just the notion of let's go find out about our customers. Our students let's find them. Let's find who they are, where they are, then let's develop messages and advertising.

[00:12:01] to, attract them to our programs. So we did that. So we have, I have a pretty good idea across my many very programs. it's a work in progress, but it's so much better than it was even five years ago. Oh, I know where to find my creative writing. I know where to find my sociology students.

[00:12:16] Judith Stockmon: I know where to find my, data science and my statistics students. I know what they look like. I know what kind of messages that I can say on my different social media platforms. I know what to put in my email campaigns. I know who to talk to, those are some wins that we continually, enjoy now.

[00:12:32] Judith Stockmon: And that's through a process we put in place over the last several years and it's really starting to pay.

[00:12:37] Host: That's amazing. How are you continuously collecting data so that those findings don't go stale. like we knew what our student was six years ago, but then now all of a sudden, that pool is dried up and it's not working for us anymore.

[00:12:53] Judith Stockmon: Yeah. Great question. information and data can get old pretty quickly, right?

[00:12:57] Host: Especially with something like the pandemic

[00:12:59] Host: happening.

[00:13:00] Judith Stockmon: Exactly. So sometimes it feels like even starting from scratch. so the way we collect that data, historically, and even now is we do a lot of surveys. Of applicant pool. throughout the, application process,when they are admitted and when they accept,an offer of admission and when they don't accept an offer of admission, they give us information why they choose. Or why they did not, whether it's what schools they apply to in addition to our school. We have over five years of, application data that we collect as part of the application.

[00:13:29] Judith Stockmon: Like when someone applies, they fill out this application over the years, we've added more questions to that application. More demographic questions,which helps informs our decision and our communication plans. So we'll do more of that. I think we'll probably do more. we've tried to upgrade our serving capabilities,and survey students regularly through these channels and others to get an idea of what their appetite is for our programs and where they are in terms of their educational needs.

[00:13:55] Judith Stockmon: And we're going to start doing. Again, we do it continuously and obviously within, I mean, the pandemic is over, but where it is now, we're at a stage where we can start collecting some of that information again and using that to inform some of our decisions,right now, as well as in the future.

[00:14:10] Host: Are you currently tasked with growing enrollment, maintaining enrollment or, bringing in a different type of student.

[00:14:18] Judith Stockmon: All of that. I mean, not so much the ladder, not so much for putting in a different type of student, but yes, my job, the team I lead is responsible for, growing the class, and those growth numbers come from conversations with, faculty, the Dean's office, myself, and what's happening in the marketplace.

[00:14:34] Judith Stockmon: But yes, we are in charge with growing and maintaining, the graduate population. Now my job is bringing them in, doing the application, the operations part, once they're. Someone else there they're no longer part of my team, with, we have, enrollment goals every year.and last few years goals have been modest. Right before the pandemic. We exceeded our growth significantly, which was great, but just last year we did not meet our numbers. so every year we meet usually late summer and we, with our leadership and we talk about what we think are the reasonable opportunities for growth.

[00:15:04] Judith Stockmon: And they were held accountable to those, What

[00:15:07] Host: is your team currently struggling with in terms of market?

[00:15:11] money resources. we have, over 50 graduate program that includes certificate PhD programs, master's programs, and we just don't have enough money to give everybody. So it's triaged. it's, my life is triaged, particularly from a marketing perspective, not, unusual for a lot of people in my line of work, but our challenge is who do we get literally meetings today.

[00:15:33] Judith Stockmon: And last week and tomorrow we, were able to get a little bit more money from the university. We got an extra, like a hundred thousand dollars, which is a lot of money for us. And how do we spend it? We have 50 plus programs. Do we spend it on the programs that have growth potential, or do we spend in a program that already doing well, but they're, we want them to do even better. do we spend it on new? What we're probably gonna be doing some hybrid and online degrees. Do we spend it on that area, do we do brand awareness? we could use still benefit from people just knowing the suite of programs that are at American university college of arts and sciences.

[00:16:05] Judith Stockmon: There's a huge gap there. So how do we spend that? is a daily struggle that I work with my marketing communications team and like the central marketing, what is the best way to spend that money? And we do have an agency of record that advises us. but in the end,our decision to decide where that money goes.

[00:16:23] Judith Stockmon: And that's

[00:16:24] Judith Stockmon: challenge.

[00:16:25] Host: And they advise you on enrollment strategy or specifically there for digital ad buy.

[00:16:32] Judith Stockmon: They advise us on.

[00:16:33] Judith Stockmon: Media strategy. again, it's a small budget for, some of the program marketing, but they advise us on. Okay. So you want to draw, you want to build a, your econ program, you wanna increase enrollments and your econ program.

[00:16:45] Judith Stockmon: These are some of the platforms. And then we talk about, you know, The components of our program, what we think are the, you main attributes, you we believe the value proposition is and what we'd like to achieve and where the areas like we historically get a lot of applications from California and Texas and Maine so that our advertising company will help us,develop a media plan and what platforms are appropriate for the messages that we want to.

[00:17:08] Judith Stockmon: It helps us develop the messages as well,

[00:17:10] Judith Stockmon: then, um, pushed them out in ways that they think make them.

[00:17:13] Host: I feel like you're a dream client for an agency because you're basically just handing them over. Like, these are my people and now I need you to go find them, wherever they

[00:17:23] Judith Stockmon: Well,

[00:17:23] Judith Stockmon: don't know if they think words, dream clients, but agency, I have to tell you supports the seven different schools. So it's, it can be a little challenging getting their attention.

[00:17:33] so in that regard, would prefer to have an agency.

[00:17:36] Judith Stockmon: I worked at another university and I had an agency just for my school that was like, just to solve my problem. I don't have that here. so it is a little bit of a sharing, up, which is mostly good, but

[00:17:47] Judith Stockmon: if we don't get their whole

[00:17:48] Judith Stockmon: attention. so what channels are most effective for?

[00:17:52] Judith Stockmon: You know what we do a lot of email marketing. I think with a limited budget, I when we buy media, all direct marketing.email market is probably what we lean into the most.

[00:18:01] Judith Stockmon: I we use that and we used to have an agency that would help that worked with us exclusively to do email marketing. They would buy, help us buy lists,typically GRE lists and we developed a Microsoft. and they were worked with us almost on a weekly basis.

[00:18:16] Judith Stockmon: We were sending out different email campaigns and doing different campaigns to attract different people, to art, to attract applicants for our different programs. and that was a, resource probably in the last five years. The biggest resource for us in generating leads. Or our programs, our inquiries doubled more than, we're up 30%.

[00:18:34] Judith Stockmon: One year we have since, part of it is through cost cutting. We do no longer work with that agency. And actually we got rid of that agency. I started working with student bridge actually, which was a different focus, but those videos have been also a great. lead generation for us, which was not the intent we developed these 12 videos with student bridge, and I think the, pandemic, added to this because students couldn't come on campus and couldn't connect with them.

[00:18:58] Judith Stockmon: Like we want it to, but the student bridge videos have been a great platform for us in terms of generating leads and last couple of years. But I would say that email marketing is something that we Leaning too heavily. we do a lot of search engine optimization, lot of SEO work as well. direct marketing as is the biggest bang for our buck. do a lot of banner ads and things like that, to help us with our, media footprint. But I think the email marketing campaigns are most successful.

[00:19:23] Host: I should know this, but my experience is much more undergraduate focused. has COVID affected the number of GRE test takers?

[00:19:32] Judith Stockmon: Oh, great question. It has affected them a great deal. just made it tougher to, take the exam, particularly our international students, And TOEFL exams, language exams, like that have been decimated. As you may be thinking of GRE list as an opportunity is not. As we would like it to be. When we were working with the agency a couple years ago, we would refresh those lists pretty much, every few months. and we don't do that as much. Now we still buy some lists on our own without an agency, but the data and the information is probably not.

[00:20:04] Judith Stockmon: Current. and so that is something that as created a challenge for us, and we don't lean into as much, uh, in, that regard, particularly when some of our email campaigns, but, the GRE situation has not been good for, I think a lot of graduate programs, in fact, in the heat of the pandemic, if we're on a tail end in the beginning, a lot of our programs.

[00:20:25] Judith Stockmon: We wanted to remove as many barriers as possible, right? Like a lot of institutions. So many of our programs just stopped requiring it for

[00:20:33] Judith Stockmon: admission.

[00:20:34] Host: When you look at, you your competitors and other schools, what are some things that you see that they're doing a great job.

[00:20:40] I think the schools there are real successful and I, you did a little. secret shopping and knowing I'd be speaking to you, but I think, those universities who are engaging applicants and people on their website through video content, I think they're doing. the right thing. there's some schools that are like really creating these little micro communities on their website. I said, I went to brown. I spent some time on their website today and they created an opportunity for students to share their social media posts, the website.

[00:21:07] Judith Stockmon: And they're building these campaigns. I like these little mini communities on their website, they're creating connection. I think schools would do that. And I think video drives that a lot. and I think that is something that we could do better we're working on. But I think schools who, get that, using the videos and social media to tell stories, good marketing story.

[00:21:26] Judith Stockmon: And they're using these vehicles to tell their stories and inviting students to be a part of that story. think those are universities who are winning in

[00:21:34] Judith Stockmon: that regard.

[00:21:36] Host: What are some things you think other schools could be doing better?

[00:21:39] some schools do it better than others. Right? I used to say, we're kind of ribbon. We go, we've been asleep for 20 years and now we're awakened. Oh, there's all these things that are happening, but leaning into technology even more like.

[00:21:49] Judith Stockmon: Like students like to be grad students. I mean, I work in a grad student space. I know this true for undergrad as well. I have a daughter who's a junior in college, and I have one was about to go. So texting is where they live. I live with generation Z and I market to generation C. leaning into finding students where they are.

[00:22:04] Judith Stockmon: I think universities could do that better, but hopefully I'm not contradicting myself, but I also think that we, and again, the pandemic shut this up a little bit. we have to be careful not to lean too much into social media in place of face-to-face contact.

[00:22:17] Judith Stockmon: Students still want to connect with you. may be current students. It may be an admissions person in my world sometimes of the faculty or alumni, but that the face-to-face contact is still critical part of a D student's decision-making in terms of whether or not they're going to choose your school.

[00:22:32] Judith Stockmon: Students still want to be engaged. They still want that white glove treatment with. Connecting to you on a more intimate and personal level. So social media has its place.

[00:22:42] Judith Stockmon: YouTube has its place, but, face to face contact is still important to this generation. And I think some schools I've leaned too far direction and maybe don't quite

[00:22:52] Judith Stockmon: recognize.

[00:22:53] what are some industry leaders, companies, or resources that you'd like to follow or learn from.

[00:22:59] not necessarilyeducation focused. Some of the resources I like to, and I think I still probably, lean on my private sector. Focus. And what I've tried to do here is some of the learnings and the relationships , when I was working in the private sector, I've tried to bring here and learn from some of those experience.

[00:23:15] Judith Stockmon: So the lead I follow, I mean, I think bill gates has done some great things in the education space, all that stuff, all what doing.But I read the Chronicle of education. I feel like I have to do that every day, look to a lot of, I like Scott Galloway. He's a professor at NYU.

[00:23:29] Judith Stockmon: He's got some very interesting views on education, Adam Grant. think he's a professor at Wharton. He has some great ideas on leaving. love this writer at the Atlantic and I think it's Arthur Brooks. He's the price on building a better life? I think a lot of those too, and wellbeing wellness is a big part of the, where we are today and it, students graduate, students want to know what resources are here for them.

[00:23:50] Judith Stockmon: So I get a lot of insight from those types of leaders. I love the Harvard business review. They have great articles on education. the washy journal has. Section on education that they bring a lot of different articles and the post I read the post every day. So I start my day with, I kinda old school.

[00:24:07] Judith Stockmon: I don't actually read it on paper, but I do start my day with reading these things. And I find things outside of the education sector, help inform my thinking,how to bring this to the sector and learn.

[00:24:18] if you could change anything about higher ed or enrollment marketing, what would it be? think this is less the case than it was five years ago, but the whole notion of build it and they would come that for higher education marketers to not be scared of using some tools from the private school. I still work hard for some of my faculty to think of, students as consumers to be, you market focused on, on how can we meet their needs,as opposed to maybe research focused on like, they should be interested in what I'm doing and that I shouldn't be worried about bringing them into the fold.

[00:24:52] Judith Stockmon: I think. Educators are on that path, but I think some of us are slower than others. So I would love for higher ed marketing and higher education sector to think more, nimbly to be. To be more adaptable , to be more leaders in terms of innovation and, some schools are, but it's a lot of times it's been the, to use and the, and organizations like that who are leading this thinking, online learning or developing hybrid models.

[00:25:18] Judith Stockmon: I think your more traditional university has to think about education differently, how it's distributed, who benefits from it just developing more of a market focused model on how to deliver it to those who are most interested in.

[00:25:31] Host: What do you see for the future of enrollment market?

[00:25:35] Judith Stockmon: Oh, wow. that's a great question.I think some of the tools will probably remain the same, but we're in and moving quickly. the, The pandemic has accelerated this, but we are moving into hybrid learning models, right? remote learning is not going away.

[00:25:47] Judith Stockmon: It was here before, and it's just being accelerated, what are the tools and the messages that need to be developed? For this new kind of infrastructure that's happening within higher education and the diversity of learners, both in terms of age, background, nationality, and all that is more than it's ever been. and want to be as customized as possible or to, you having the right messages to the right people. But how do you do that? I how do you make Say the right things to the right people at the right time, the right information and these higher education landscape is fragmented in some ways, learning how to work within this new infrastructure meaningful ways, in ways that people paying attention, I think will be a, an ongoing challenge for us. a few.

[00:26:30] switching gears a little bit, what is an app or a marketing tool that you can not live with?

[00:26:37] I love Google analytics. Can help us really better understand.

[00:26:42] Judith Stockmon: what we're doing is working. And love having access to those metrics and being able to change up pretty quickly if something isn't

[00:26:50] Judith Stockmon: working.

[00:26:51] Judith Stockmon: So that sounds kind of geeky,

[00:26:52] Judith Stockmon: but.

[00:26:53] Host: Have you had any major aha moments? Like you saw something in the data and then it was like, oh my gosh, we have to do this differently. Or this next.

[00:27:02] Judith Stockmon: it's interesting how, you can lean into old data or old myths. So once we started collecting some data, American university is in Washington DC. I think faculty and others felt that most of our applicants were from the DMV. The DMV is, Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia.

[00:27:17] again, this is graduate school, and that didn't have as a national footprint as perhaps we thought we knew we had, the DMV and the Northeast coast.

[00:27:25] Judith Stockmon: Feeds us like the knew we had some footage there, but after collecting some data, it really was a big aha for me. And I think some of our, team and peers was that now most of our applications come from outside of the DMV. from outside of Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia, like 60%. now when the people who enroll, that gap closes, it's more to 50 50, but that changed our whole marketing focus. Wait, wait, knew a little bit of California, but no there's people from Texas and people from the different parts of the Southeast and I'm smattering in the Midwest and who are applying to our programs and we lose them sometimes when it comes to enrollment. But. What are we saying?

[00:28:03] Judith Stockmon: If we could all these people from Texas who start, but they don't finish, or they don't enroll. We did a lot of investigating to find out, well, why is that? And are things we can do maybe to get them more attracted to actually enrolling. even faculty who've been here for years,

[00:28:18] Judith Stockmon: American university is a national school, but I think we thought from a graduate perspective that it was mostly regional and is not, and that has changed our focus a lot where we go, how we market, what kind of media we buy, where we buy media? that is something that was a little thing that was just subtle enough for us to make sense.

[00:28:37] Host: If you could go back five to 10 years and give yourself advice, what would it be?

[00:28:42] Judith Stockmon: would probably say to be more fearless, to do more listening than talking in my previous role, I worked for a business school and I had opportunity to like travel to India and, we went to the Soviet union wants, and I was always sending someone else.

[00:28:57] Judith Stockmon: I had younger children, and didn't value that opportunity to like literally see the world on someone else's dime. I I would've probably encouraged myself to just, jump in and be less cautious.

[00:29:08] Judith Stockmon: And that's probably personally as well as professionally, and be less afraid of something going wrong. And I think I'm at a place where I'm better at that, but I wish I had gotten there. You learn more. If you're lucky, you learn more, you do better.

[00:29:20] Judith Stockmon: And you think professionally, and in other parts of my life, I was just more cautious to want to make the right decision. And I think here even, and I've had leadership that lets you make the wrong decision, professionally that is to try new things. We'll see what happens. And I think the leadership here is amenable to that, but I thinkbeen a journey for me to

[00:29:38] Judith Stockmon: get.

[00:29:39] Host: Where can our listeners find you if they'd like to connect with you

[00:29:42] Judith Stockmon: my work email. happy to connect with anyone who wants to, but, it's been a good ride for me, so I'm very happy, my time here and I love working in education.

[00:29:49] Judith Stockmon: I love having an opportunity to, bring students closer to some of their goals, both professionally and personally. So it's, a great

[00:29:56] Judith Stockmon: ride.

[00:29:57] Host: Yeah, definitely. Thank you so much for interviewing with me today.

[00:30:00] Judith Stockmon: Oh, thank you so much. Was was a great experience. I really appreciate. Thank you for, um, giving me the.

[00:30:07] Host: thank you for listening to the filling seats podcast, hosted by student bridge. If you'd like to connect with this episode's guest. Check out the show notes. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a rating and review and don't forget to subscribe. For more information about the podcast or to let us know, you'd like to be a guest.

[00:30:27] Host: Visit student bridge.com/podcast. Thanks for listening