Archives for posts with tag: recruitment
Student Paths founder Chris Wills

Student Paths founder Chris Wills

Cocktail leadership
By Father Time

Picture yourself on a desert island.
In the South Pacific.
With a cocktail in your hand.
Like where this is going? Since it’s February, it’s not too much of a stretch.
But inevitably, what starts to creep back into your brain? All the tasks you need to get done. Upcoming deadlines. How you need to be around to ensure your team hits the numbers. I’d love to go, but…

I’d be very curious to know what percent of vacation time is actually taken by leaders each year? 75 percent? 50 percent? My guess might even be lower.

When I talk to other leaders, I’m struck by their comments of feeling a lack of control, and that they don’t always feel they have a handle on what is going on in their school or organization. In turn, that causes them to feel like they need to work and be around more. Time disappears.

But what if there was a way to be on that desert island and still feel you knew exactly what was going on? There is, and we’ll call it cocktail leadership. And if it helps you get in the mood, feel free to sip on your favorite cocktail as you read along.

The key to cocktail leadership is first identifying your unique 5 to 10 key numbers that predict future success. Reactive numbers tell you what happened, and aside from doing something different next year, the ship has sailed and you have no ability to do anything differently to get the numbers back on track.

Predictive numbers, however, tell you where you are heading, and if that is a crash landing, you as the captain have time to chart a course correction to your desired destination.

The exercise, then, goes like this: If you were on that desert island in the South Pacific and a bottle washed ashore with 5 to 10 predictive numbers from your organization, which ones would you want to see to have a solid picture of how things were going?

Make a list, set it aside, and review it a day later. Really think about what numbers would give you a great understanding of what was going on in your office thousands of miles away.

Then put those numbers on a piece of paper and call it a scorecard (or the South Pacific scorecard if you’re so inclined). Track them weekly over 12 week intervals and review with your team every week.

Identify the ultimate goal you are trying to get to with each number, make sure a single person is ultimately accountable for each number, and have that person publicly report each week if their number is “on track” or “off track.”

If “on track,” no further discussion is needed. If “off track,” discuss the item as an issue in the meeting and work together to identify specific action items your team can do to get the number back on track toward the goal. If the number is truly predictive, this can happen.
If the number is off track again next week, follow the same process of discussing as a team and agreeing upon action steps to get the number back on track.

This model can and should be followed each week, regardless of whether a person is out of the office or not. That means you can know what is going on when you are sipping your cocktail in the South Pacific, and if something happens to be “off track,” you know your team has a process to follow to get it back on track by the time you get home.

If you want to have a fulfilling 2013 and save lots of time, email me at with the secret password COCKTAIL in the subject line and I’ll send you a sample scorecard that I use in my organization. I’m also happy to work with you to figure out what some of your key metrics should be so you can enjoy reading them on that island later this year.

Father Time, or Chris Wills, is passionate about helping other leaders learn and grow and free up time they didn’t think they had. He is the Founder of Student Paths, an organization that better prepares students for their future in college, career and life readiness.

Scarborough Elizabeth
Looking back on 2012, what overall marketing tip do you have for enrollment managers?

In working with college and universities throughout the country, I still find that a lot of institutions manage their “recruitment marketing” out of the enrollment management division and their “image and brand marketing” out of their marketing department. Unfortunately, it is common for there to be absolutely zero relationship between the two. Can you imagine this strategy working well in a corporate setting? Take Best Buy for example. Imagine a scenario in which you see Best Buy commercials on TV and then go into a store to find a completely different image and identity….and a completely different set of marketing messages being communicated in collateral materials and from the sales team. That’s crazy, you say? Yes it is. But, that’s the approach many institutions are using, by default.

Why is marketing integration important, especially in 2013?

By integrating the recruitment marketing strategy with the overall image- and brand-building efforts of the institution AND also integrating the fundraising marketing strategy, an institution is maximizing the effectiveness of its marketing dollars across the entire enterprise. It’s good to remember that when it comes to marketing, every institution is stronger united, than divided. The more you can integrate and coordinate all the marketing that is occurring around your institution, the more effective your institution will be as a whole. In most cases, the reason integration is so difficult is because of the politics and power struggles we have going on within the organization. Every office or division wants to implement their own strategy; one they believe is “right” for their audiences and goals. It’s the same problem we are having in Washington right now. We should take a look at what’s going on in Congress and do the opposite. More collaboration and more focus on the larger picture. These are the elements that will lead to greater marketing integration on your campus. If you have ever complained that your institution has “no brand” or a weak brand strategy, ask yourself what YOU are doing to help your institution work toward a simple, focused message that can serve as the foundation for communications with all internal and external stakeholder groups. When undergraduate recruitment, graduate recruitment, fundraising, alumni relations, marketing staff members and others around your campus can work together to develop a coordinated approach to marketing, your effectiveness will skyrocket.

How can you help foster such integration at your institution from your role in admission?

Integrating does not mean you have to give up your authority or your budget, nor does it mean you have to add lots of meetings to your plate. What it does mean is that you need to come together as a team. Reach across the aisle to understand the objectives of the advancement division, the marketing department, and other critical units of your institution. Be a part of the solution that bring greater integration and more marketing coordination to your campus. Get on board with a strategy that can work for the entire institution as opposed to remaining fiercely committed to just your little piece of it. Your piece will be stronger and more vibrant with greater marketing integration. When your entire institution is working from the same play book, your job will be easier.

One of my favorite experiences of the year was presenting they opening keynote address at GEAC on St. Simon’s Island in November. The session was titled, “Why College Can’t Brand.” The moral of the story, of course, was that colleges CAN be effective in branding themselves. But, there are certainly hurdles to get over and they are listed in the powerpoint.

If you would like to learn more about SimpsonScarborough, Elizabeth can be contacted at or by phone at 703.403.0547.

Student Paths Leadership Tips for Enrollment Professionals

by Steven B. Fulmer, author and leadership coach

With the goal of higher education to graduate students who are smarter, better, wiser, and more effective when they leave than when they came in, why wouldn’t that same principle apply to the people who work there?

How best can you as an enrollment management leader engage employees to achieve greatness and meet or exceed individual, team, and institutional recruitment goals, especially in this tight economy and competitive landscape?

Well, if I may be so direct, for one, we have to stop using the excuse of this “tight economy” for why things aren’t getting done. Let’s face it, in too many schools, organizations, and companies we are being penny-wise and pound-foolish.

People are one of the two most expensive line items in a college or university budget, and yet, when the going gets tough the first place cut is training, development, and support of that expensive resource.

Remember, people are the only thing that will bring you out of this “tight economy,” or beat your competition whether that’s through the quality of your recruiters or the brilliance of your professors.

So how best can you engage those employees? Invest in them! It need not be expensive, it can be with time, attention, recognition, small rewards, offering them a coach, or recognizing a personal challenge that is standing in the way of their success on the job or their ability to step into their personal leadership.

A program I built called The 10-Point Leadership Triangle™, which is all about how to engage people, and if I had to boil it down to one key point I would bring it all back to this one question:

“What story, does your leadership, allow your people, to tell about their life?”  

If you are willing to invest the effort to connect the vision of your department, institution, and mission to their personal story, you will have the single most powerful impact on engagement.

Why? Because in the end, most people don’t need to be right or want to be in charge, but they do want to feel like they matter, that you are all on the same team and there’s no “us and them.” People simply want to be honored, respected, and dignified.

Lately, the most common complaint I hear from employees is that the humanity of their organization has disappeared. They feel like a number and that it’s management against staff. I speak often on a set of principles I call HUMAN Strategies™.

You have a marketing strategy, a social media strategy, a financial strategy, a capital investment strategy . . . but what is your Human Strategy? If you don’t have one, then congratulations, you just figured out where to begin!

Steven Fulmer

Steven Fulmer is a leadership author, speaker, and coach. Owner of Steven Fulmer, Inc., he is a self-described HUMAN strategist and game changer who helps people personally and professionally achieve success and happiness. A former business executive who helped a software company grow substantially in numbers of employees and revenue, Fulmer is author of Leadership Just Got Personal (2012), creator of LifeQuest Mapping™ and the 10-Point Leadership Triangle™, and facilitator of George Fox University MBA Program’s mission and vision workshop. He lives in Oregon with his wife and 2 children. More is online at

Receive more leadership coaching tips for higher education enrollment managers by Steven Fulmer through Student Paths’ upcoming enewsletters and blog posts; sign up for our monthly enewsletter at Student Paths helps prepare high school students for their future through college, career, and life- readiness materials.

by Father Time (a.k.a. Chris Wills, Founder of Student Paths)

The success of your next few recruiting classes literally depends on the answers, yet I am amazed at how few leaders spend time to ensure they have them.  Some just don’t put the effort into being a good leader, but for most, they are simply too busy or overwhelmed with their many other priorities.

Yet, I would suggest the time and energy spent on addressing those questions will actually save you time.  Lots of it.

Fall travel can be a grind.  Even if your team is fully engaged walking out the door for their first trip, it doesn’t mean that will continue after their 15th night in a Hampton Inn away from friends and family.

When employees aren’t taken care of, problems arise.  And it’s those problems that pop up, interrupt us and unexpectedly siphon all sorts of time away from much more important things.

Those problems also demoralize your directors and managers and the rest of your staff, again stealing precious time and energy–both of which you already don’t have enough.

And I won’t even begin getting into what that costs you…

With so much on your plate you have to react to, it’s really hard to be proactive, yet that is what great leaders do.

Work on getting the most from your team and keeping them engaged during the hectic and busy fall travel season by asking the following 10 questions that all great leaders ask:

  1. Do you know what is expected of you?
  2. Do you have the tools to meet those expectations?
  3. Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  5. Do you feel someone cares about you at work?
  6. Do you feel your opinions count?
  7. Does the purpose of this department/institution make you feel your job is important?
  8. Have you had opportunities to learn and grow?
  9. Do you feel your co-workers are committed to doing quality work?
  10. Has someone talked to you about your progress recently?

(From Buckingham and Coffman’s First, Break All the Rules, What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently)

Make time to ask these questions at least every 2 months, and more frequently if possible.  Then use the 10 questions as a guide to being a better leader and getting the most from your team.  Figure out how to turn any “no’s” into “yes.”

Finally, share this framework as a tool to help your directors and managers grow and develop, since many have never had formal leadership development.  You’ll love the results of an engaged team communicating openly and clicking on all cylinders!

Chris Wills

Email me at with the secret password LEADER in the subject line, and I will send you a free copy of the book First, Break All the Rules, What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, which provides more insight into the 10 questions.  You’ll enjoy seeing the results!

Father Time, or Chris Wills, is passionate about helping other leaders learn and grow and free up time they didn’t think they had. He is the Founder of Student Paths, an organization that better prepares students for their future in college, career and life readiness.

Student Paths Q & A for Enrollment Professionals

by University of Wisconsin-Stout’s Dr. Pamela Holsinger-Fuchs

Pam Holsinger-Fuchs

Q: What tips do you have for others in enrollment management to identify and communicate their distinctions?

A: We did an exercise with our staff that went like this:

If UW-Stout was a car, a store, or a brand what would it be and why? We were all pretty consistent in what we said. It is then up to us to figure out how to share what makes UW-Stout different from another campus.  My advice, don’t assume people know what your campus is about.

Q: How do you convey those distinctions to prospective students?

A: We share Stout Stories of research or contests that our students have won to show them how we apply what students are learning. When the students meet with the Program Directors they share these success stories that have led to our outstanding 98 percent placement rate for our graduates.

Q: How has clearly communicating distinctions helped recruit and retain students? 

A: 95 percent of every college is really similar but it is the 5 percent that makes a campus unique that needs to be highlighted. We also have textbook and laptop rental that is included in the cost of our tuition and talking about these differences helps set us apart, which helps in recruiting.  Because we provide a level playing field for all students and provide other services such as free tutoring and a dedicated advising center this supports retention.

Q: How are the institutional distinctions conveyed to prospective parents? Is there separate messaging and a separate process?

A: Parents are increasingly playing a bigger role in decisions as they relate to college choice for students. We intentionally send postcards about some of our information knowing that Mom and Dad, or a legal guardian, can then read the messaging as well. We also have a four-year and a three-year contract (for 3 programs) that guarantees students can graduate in those timeframes and that is really more of interest to parents than it has been to students. We also do have a parent enewsletter that we send out monthly.

Q: How have you and the enrollment management team worked with others in the institution to clearly convey the distinctions in an integrated way? 

A: We work with our marketing department to make sure that we continually stress our 98 percent placement rates and some of our other messages, such as being the most transfer-friendly school in the UW system. We partner with all of the Deans to have an academic presence on our Stout Saturday events. For the National College Fair, we invite a number of our program directors and the Director of our Honors program. We work very closely with our Athletic Department and have one of our admissions counselors serve as a liaison to the department.  We recently started partnering with our Dining Services and they now provide a free lunch when a prospective student visits campus. These are just a few examples

Q: And why is integration so important? 

A: We need to continually reinforce our messages and all of us need to be on the same page in doing this.

Q: How do you make sure the promises made to students during the recruitment process are kept?

A: We constantly evaluate our policies and programs to be sure that we are meeting the needs of students. We are very data driven and evaluate everything to be sure that we are meeting the needs of students. We don’t say something unless we can provide it. If we cannot do something we are honest about it and do not oversell ourselves.

Q: Why is it so important for institutions to clearly convey their distinctiveness today? 

A: The competition continues to be fierce not only between traditional schools but also with the increase growth of for-profit educational units. Why should someone chose xxx school rather than yyy school?  If there isn’t something that captures students attention you will lose them.

Q: You’ve worked in student affairs in the past, how has that helped you in the admission area?

A: I understand how all of the pieces are interconnected. So, for example, we have an event called Stout Saturday where we bring in several hundred high school students and their parents on a Saturday morning. Well, what are college students doing on Saturday mornings?  SLEEPING! So the campus was not very lively.

Having worked in student affairs, I suggested approaching Residential Life and Student Activities to see if they would be willing to schedule some of their events on these Saturday mornings. Since, we have had a drumming workshop going on as parents and students entered the dining room and the wonderful smell of bacon and pancakes wafted through the air as the Residence Life staff held a Cartoon Breakfast in the hall where we were showcasing a room.

These are just small examples of collaboration among units that have helped to make a difference. Larger issues, in terms of financial aid leveraging and working with transfer credits, have also proven to be effective.

Q: You have a Ph.D., how has that helped you in enrollment management leadership and/or higher education leadership?

A: To work in higher education and have the respect of the faculty and knowledge base of research having my Ph.D. has been critical. I personally loved my program and feel it gave me a strong foundation to be successful.

Dr. Pamela Holsinger-Fuchs is Executive Director of Enrollment Services at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. UW-Stout is one of about 125 polytechnic universities in the country. Holsinger-Fuchs long-time career in higher education has centered on students. She had worked in recruitment and retention as well as student services at universities in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Washington. She holds a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks.

Student Paths Q & A is a monthly column geared toward enrollment management professionals in higher education. Student Paths helps prepare high school students for their future through college, career, and life- readiness materials.

Student Paths Q & A for Enrollment Professionals

by Western Oregon University’s David McDonald

David McDonald

Q: What’s the key to increasing freshmen student retention?

A: Student retention (success) is the result of equal levels of effort and commitment by the student and the university. College graduation must be the students’ goal from the first day. Students must be open to changing work and study habits to meet the increased expectations and independence of college. Students must be willing to admit that they will need help such as academic advising or tutoring and seek such help early and often in their careers. They must be prepared for college challenges and the occasional bumpy road since that is part of the learning process and successful recovery from those challenges is something all employers seek.

Q: What are some tips to increasing student retention?

A: Universities must provide the sustained and accessible support programs and policies. At WOU advising is so important that we meet with students every quarter and advisors receive regular training and support. We are fortunate that for 5 years in a row we have had at least one advisor receive national awards for advising excellence. Our experience with tutoring and our Writing Center is that the best students use the tutoring and writing centers the most. These services are for all students and students who use the tutoring or writing center are the most motivated to succeed.

Q: What’s most important to ensure students who come to campus stay there and graduate? 

A: Connecting the student to the university is the most critical part of the success formula. Connected students use available campus services more effectively and in turn become resources to other students. Connections can come from joining or creating a student club, intramural team, taking on a leadership position, volunteering or even going to sporting or fine art events that are often free to students. Success in college is built upon the foundation of living and learning through the college experiences.

Q: What’s the key to increasing retention and graduation?

A: Commitment from pre-matriculation through graduation. Student success and graduation improvement is the result of a campus commitment and leadership that continues to keep the university focused on student success and learning. The leadership and commitment provide the opportunity to increase programs and supports for students while also keeping class size down. At WOU our average class size has been held steady at 25 students for the past 5 years and we have added new majors, new state-of-the-art buildings, including 1 of the 10 greenest dorms on the planet and have expanded our programs to support students. We have a major student retention committee and all our planning committees include students.

Q: What do you recommend to ensure underrepresented student success — from enrollment through retention to graduation?

A: Universities need to create an atmosphere that fosters the creation and strengthening of a partnership between the students (and their families) and the university. The partnership needs to have as its focus student success leading to graduation. Students must be informed of what it takes to succeed and the university must provide the opportunity and support. In today’s economy that support must also address affordability.

WOU created the Tuition Promise in 2007 to provide students and their families protection from the rapid and unpredictable tuition increases. The Promise locks in a set price per credit for new freshmen for four years and transfer students for a pro-rated number of years depending upon how many credits were being transferred to WOU. This year we expanded the Promise into the Tuition Choice to give students even more flexibility in paying for college.

Q: How have you seen access change in higher education during the past two decades?

A: Higher education has moved from being important as a tool for social and community improvement to being an essential experience. The globalization of the world economy, the intersection of world politics and the near instantaneous coverage and conversations about events and people from all parts of the planet require stronger critical thinking, analytical and communication skills than ever before. The college degree is the most effective and lasting way to develop and strengthen those skills.

The benefits of the degree are greater than ever before, but at the same time the real and perceived cost of attending college are creating barriers to entry and completion that must be addressed.  College is the most effective investment of time and funding that an individual can make to create a future filled with opportunities. And an educated community is the most lasting and beneficial investment we can make as a nation, a state or city. The biggest challenge we face is how to connect the policies and priorities in a way that leads to lasting and strong economies and communities.

Q: Why is access so important to you?

A: Personally, I am like many others at WOU. I am the first member of my family to attend and graduate from college. Like many others at WOU I understand the additional challenges that first-generation students may encounter. As a university our mission statement is explicit in having WOU self-identify as a university that promotes access to graduation. We are a public university that has always placed the needs of students at the top of the list and access is the natural expression of that prioritization.

Q: Do you have a particular success story you’d like to share?

A: The Student Enrichment Program (SEP) at WOU is a wonderful example of maximizing resources to expand opportunities for students. SEP started as a federally funded TRiO program under the Student Support Services program umbrella. Twice since its inception WOU has added significant campus funding to expand the program to serve more students who are first generation, low-income, or disabled to enter and then graduate from WOU.

The SEP program’s graduation rate is always near 90 percent and its students are some of the finest citizens who become incredibly successful and supportive alumni of the university.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

 A: College without a degree is like a plan without wings or an engine. Both will cost money and time to build, and neither will lift or carry anyone or anything. Students should begin college with the explicit goal of graduating. Student should pick a school that is equally committed and focused on their success.

David McDonald is Associate Provost at Western Oregon University, where, since 2005 he has initiated innovative programs such as the Western Tuition Promise. Under his leadership, freshmen student retention has improved to 73% from 62%, the number of enrolled Latino students has doubled so that WOU is now the state leader in Latino enrollment, and the school has become a national leader in retention and graduation rates for underrepresented students. McDonald’s 20-year career in higher education has centered on student access and success, including college affordability.

Student Paths Q & A is a monthly column geared toward enrollment management professionals in higher education. Student Paths helps prepare high school students for their future through college, career, and life- readiness materials.

Student Paths Q & A for Enrollment Professionals

by Augsburg College’s Sally Daniels Herron

Q: Why is parent/family relations important?

A: It benefits the institution and it benefits the parents.

Working with parents to answer their questions or connect them with the appropriate resource on campus definitely helps with enrollment. During the decision-making process, the program helps by providing useful information and building a relationship. And, being available to answer parent questions on an ongoing basis on myriad topics, such as financial aid and majors, is a retention tool.

It has been my experience that given the freedom and support to move across divisions of a college/university, I can really engage with the 3 populations of parents and families: prospective, current, and past. I have access to the Enrollment Management Division’s database of prospective students, so when a student is accepted I send a personal note of congratulations to their parent(s). When they make their deposit, another personal note of welcome and an “Auggie Family” window decal is on its way to the family.

I provide another touch point with parents/families as part of new student orientation, under the Student Affairs Division. I offer sessions for parents on how to prepare as a family for the launching of their soon-to-be college student. Once the students are enrolled, I work mostly under my own division (Institutional Advancement) to offer many opportunities for parents and families to participate in activities at the college as well as to volunteer at on-campus events.

Three times a year, I send a “Points of Pride” postcard to all current students’ households, with “bragging points” reminding them how proud we are that they’re an Augsburg family and the exciting things happening at their college. After graduation, the bond between parent(s) and the college is, hopefully both strong and proud enough to lead them to become donors (or continue to donate as last year current Auggie parents gave $22,000 to the Augsburg Fund!)

Q: How specifically can parent/family relations add value to an institution?

A: In addition to helping with recruitment and leading to donations, I get “thanks” from parents fairly often saying things like “we are truly blessed to have you along for this ride of college parenting and we are very thankful for all you do!”  In fact, the importance of relationship-building with parents seems to be growing more and more. They feel supported and appreciate that they have someone to call or email.

Q: How long have you been in parent/family relations? How has it changed?

A: I have been in this role since August 2005. Today there are more opportunities to grow professionally, for example, as a member of the Association of Higher Education Parent/Family Program Professionals (AHEPPP). There are also a few more colleges and universities in the Midwest that have or are considering funding a parent/family program. Such programs are much more prevalent on the East and West Coasts.

Q: What are the key ingredients for a successful parent/family relations program?

A: Support across divisions and strong support from the highest levels of leadership. It’s crucial to have a person in this position who is patient and good at building relationships. Plus, it’s been quite helpful for me to have a history with Augsburg College, so that when I do have a parent who comes to me with a problem or a challenge, I know whom to connect with to address and resolve it.

Q: What are some tips for effectively and efficiently engaging with today’s parents and families?

A: I have found that the more information you can provide, the better. At Augsburg, we have a web section dedicated to parents: Parents are sent a monthly e-newsletter. And, I answer my telephone and e-mails in a timely manner!

Q: Any further advice or stories?

A: Although not completely necessary, it has been very helpful for me in this role to have been the mother of 2 college students (yes, both as Auggies!) and to be an Augsburg graduate myself (Class of 1979).

When an upset alumna called to complain that her daughter didn’t make it into the Augsburg Choir as a first-year student, I knew and quickly replied: “Neither did mine! No first-year students make it into the Augsburg Choir! Isn’t it great that our choir is so good?!”

Similarly, when a protective father wanted to move into the Residence Hall with his daughter, saying he’d live on the guy’s floor nearby in case she needed him, I could say: “I completely understand your worry. Let’s talk a bit, shall we?” He didn’t move in…

Sally Daniels Herron is Director of Parent and Family Relations at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN. Previously she served in the admission office for 26 years, including serving as Augsburg’s Director of Admission from 1991-2005.

Student Paths Q & A is a monthly column geared toward enrollment management professionals in higher education. Student Paths helps prepare high school students for their future through college, career, and life- readiness materials.

by Father Time (a.k.a. Chris Wills, Founder of Student Paths)

Here are my Top 10 ways for you to easily save a few thousand dollars this upcoming fiscal year:

  1. Rental car corporate accounts can lock in a price

Are you currently at the mercy of demand, random airports and the unknown of rental-car pricing? Sign up for a free corporate account for each major rental car company and you can lock in a rate no matter the rental locale. It’s still a good idea to check the regular rate before booking in case it is lower than your corporate rate, but either way you are assured of getting a good deal.

  1. Hotwire / Priceline for hotels

Are you still paying the advertised price for your hotels? Do you still listen to music on cassette tapes?


A creative idea while traveling (or for date nights), this website features restaurants offering deals such as a $50 gift certificate for $25. While the selection varies, the savings are huge. Bonus tip: Do a Google search for coupon code and you may end up paying only $10 for that $50 gift certificate.

  1. Don’t check luggage or instead fly with Southwest (doesn’t charge baggage or change fees)

Some airlines now offer credit cards with a perk of no baggage fees, and while they usually have an annual fee, depending on how often you travel and check bags, you could come out ahead.

  1. Ask if vendors will provide discounts if you pay early or all at once

This win-win is an often overlooked but easy way to save money. Your vendors want money, and it costs them money the longer they have to wait to get it. Offer to pay them early in exchange for a 5-10% discount, and many will take your offer. It doesn’t cost anything to ask.

  1. Chase Ink card

I’ve spent way too much time researching the best credit cards out there, and the Chase Ink is hands-down my favorite for corporate card, or multi-user, accounts. In fact, if you are not currently using corporate cards in your office, I strongly encourage you to consider it.

Implementing this tip alone will save you thousands of dollars. The quick highlights: No annual fee, 5% back on office supplies and cable and telecom services up to $25k/year, 2% back on gas and dining up to $25k/year, and unlimited 1% back elsewhere.


Hotels change their prices all the time based on inventory, and most folks don’t realize that room booked for $100 might now be priced at $80. Book it through Tingo and you are automatically rebooked at the lower rate if it changes.


Trying to time airline fares is like the Kardashians – neither work. Instead, Bing seems to have “kinda” figured it out, enough so that they can tell you when to buy that airfare with 75% accuracy and, thus, save you the indignity of watching the price fall the day after you spent $2,000 booking tickets for your family trip to Mexico.


In the event that you are one of the lucky 25% that Bing was wrong about, buying your ticket through Yapta means you will be refunded any amount the fare went down by – minus the airline’s change fee. So if you bought a $500 ticket to Cancun that is now $300, subtracting the airline’s change fee of $100 will still net you a refund of $100.


Another free hedge against prices going down, book a car through Autoslash and they will automatically rebook you at the lower rate if the prices drops. This is an absolute no-brainer if you book with the advertised price because it was lower than your corporate account rates (see #1).

If you want to save even more money this year, email me at with the secret password MOOLA in the subject line and I’ll share 5 bonus ideas with you. I’d also love to hear about any tips you have!

Father Time, or Chris Wills, is passionate about helping other leaders learn and grow and free up time they didn’t think they had. He is the Founder of Student Paths, an organization that better prepares students for their future in college, career and life readiness.

Student Paths Q & A for Enrollment Professionals

Simpson Scarborough’s Elizabeth Scarborough

by Simpson Scarborough’s Elizabeth Scarborough

Q: Why is focus so important?

A: Focus = success!

We all know it’s impossible to be all things to all people. And yet, I see organizations of all kinds operating as if it’s possible. Consider this scenario. A prospective student walks up to a college’s table at a college fair and asks, “What majors are strongest at your school?”

Some admission counselors are trained to respond by asking, “Well, what are YOU interested in studying?” Even a 17-year-old knows this is a deflection of the question. And, they will walk away from your table NOT knowing the areas in which your institution truly excels. How can that be a good thing even when your institution excels in an area other than the one the student plans to pursue.

A better way to respond would be to answer confidentially and directly and then follow up with a question.

Q: What are some specific “focus” tips for today’s enrollment managers?

A: Integrate your messaging across all your communications platforms, audiences, and strategies. Message integration is critical for colleges and universities because we don’t spend enough money, in general, on marketing. Because we are spending so little, we have to be integrated.

Focus on the one or two key attributes of your institution that motivate prospective students to choose you, alumni to engage with you, and business leaders to seek a partnership with you.

Make sure that every time any audience has an experience with your institution, they are exposed to the same, focused set of messages.

Q: What’s paramount in saving time and money to achieve results?

A: Understand what your organization does well and focus on doing that even better.

For example, if your college attracts 90% of its students from a 4-state area, focus almost all of your resources on that area—unless you have a very specific challenge or goal that would lead you to do otherwise.

We see a distinct lack of focus in many areas of higher ed marketing and recruiting. Many colleges lack focus in their marketing messaging and in their marketing and recruiting tactics. We often spread ourselves too thin across a wide variety of communication tactics and then wonder why our messages aren’t penetrating the market.

We need to remember that sometimes less is more.

Q: As a leader yourself, how do you achieve success through focus?

A: Two years after we created Simpson Scarborough, our founding partner, Christopher Simpson passed away after his battle with melanoma. Christopher’s “side” of the business dealt with media and crisis communications.

With Christopher no longer at the helm to lead the media/crisis business, we refocused the entire company around our marketing research and branding services. It was a risk to move away from our large client base in the area of media and crisis. But, by narrowing the company’s services, we’ve actually doubled our revenue.

We were able to emerge as leaders in a very narrow field.

Focus = success!

Student Paths Q & A is a monthly column geared toward enrollment management professionals in higher education. Student Paths helps prepare high school students for their future through college, career, and life- readiness materials.

by Father Time (a.k.a. Chris Wills, Founder of Student Paths)

Wanna save a few hours every week? Look no further than how your meetings are run.

The solution to unproductive, painful meetings as showcased by Gino Wickman in his book Traction, is called a Level 10 meeting – the 10 coming from what it should be rated on a scale of 1 to 10.

The foundation of the Level 10 meeting starts with these 5 things:

  1. Meet on the same day each week
  2. Meet at the same time each week
  3. Have the same printed agenda structure
  4. Start on time
  5. End on time

This creates routine, which makes people more comfortable, allows them to focus and thus helps them be more productive. It’s hard to be productive when you can’t ever schedule anything after a meeting that notoriously runs long or when you meet for 3 hours and nothing gets accomplished.

Although it seems simple, if you do nothing else, simply implementing those 5 foundational items will do wonders. But where the real magic happens is in the agenda structure.

Meetings that don’t solve problems are a waste of time, and the Level 10 meeting structure addresses that by devoting a minimum of half its time to force you to look at and address your most important issues that week.

Here’s the 90-minute agenda structure:

  1. Segue – 5 minutes
  • Acts like a warm up or icebreaker where each member of the team shares the best thing that happened to them personally and professionally in the past week.
  1. Scorecard – 10 minutes
  • Where you review whatever your key metrics are and any that are off-track from goal get dropped into the issues section, but resist the urge to discuss here.
  1. Rock Review – 5 minutes
  • Each team member reviews “Rocks” or priorities that were set for the quarter and says whether it is on-track or off-track. Off-track gets dropped into the issues list section.
  1. Customer/Employee Headlines – 10 minutes
  • Everyone shares short and sweet headlines about what happened last week, either good or bad.
  1. To-do List – 10 minutes
  • A review of all the commitments team members made in the previous week’s meeting. This is a HUGE area that improves with structure and accountability, and people learn not to promise something they won’t be able to get done.
  1. Issues List – 45 minutes
  • Where the magic happens and is the biggest improvement for most meetings. Although it may be challenging at first, you have to realize it is impossible to solve everything at once, and if everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.

The key, then, to making the meeting highly effective is to first list all the issues that your team wants to address and then prioritize which to solve. Do not start at top of list and work down.

When you solve most important issues, you tend to realize that many others on the list were symptoms of that core issue and they drop off automatically.

  1. Conclude – 5 minutes
  • Recap your new to-do list from the meeting.

If you are solving the highest priority issues holding your team back or generally causing angst, you will find your meetings won’t be considered a four-letter word and everyone has more time to spend on things that matter.

And by being secure with the concept that you can’t solve everything at once, you can stick to what you can solve during the Level 10 meeting and avoid the black hole of meeting creep the remainder of the week.

So what are you going to do with the extra hours you now have freed up each week?

Student Paths founder Chris Wills

Email me at with the secret password LEVEL10 in the subject line, and I will provide you a sample agenda template that we use for our meetings as well as coaching in any area you’d like help with. You’ll enjoy seeing the results and the extra hours freed up each week!

Father Time, or Chris Wills, is passionate about helping other leaders learn and grow and free up time they didn’t think they had. He is the Founder of Student Paths, an organization that better prepares students for their future in college, career and life readiness.