John leads charge to 'take hard look at the student experience from A to Z'
Gaining deeper insight into the student experience at the University of Colorado Denver, and adjusting processes to better serve students, are critical aspects of enrollment and retention.
Carrie John heads up these efforts as CU Denver’s new director of analytics for enrollment and retention. John joined the university a year ago, first holding the position of student life-cycle analyst. She analyzed data related to the entire life cycle of a student — from recruitment and enrollment to graduation and post-graduation.
Now John is expanding upon the data and looking at ways to improve business, enrollment, recruitment and other procedures with the goal of making life easier and more satisfying for our students.
Substantial information about the student experience has already been compiled, including data from surveys sent to students in the spring semester. The surveys went to two groups — students who were admitted to CU Denver but chose another institution and students who enrolled here but left before graduation — and asked why they left early, selected another school and many other questions.
“We’ll keep the surveys going each semester so we can look at patterns over time,” John said. “Also, being part of the Admissions Office, we want to see how we can position CU Denver better for incoming students.”
In early September, John’s team will launch a service blueprinting process. “We’re going to take a hard look at the student experience from A to Z,” she said, “so we can bring to light those pieces that might be missing.”
For example, if it takes a student 18 clicks on the Web to get an ID card, the process needs to be streamlined.
John has more than 13 years of experience working in higher education. Prior to coming to CU Denver, she held positions in enrollment management and financial aid for a branch of Penn State, and then served on a system implementation project for all 14 institutions for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. That work led her to institutional research at the state system level. Having a desire to get back to campus and perform work that more directly impacts student success brought her to CU Denver.
“Carrie brings a unique and highly skilled tool kit to her duties and has already made an impact on our analysis of what students experience and how the university can up its quality,” said Chris Dowen, assistant vice chancellor of undergraduate admissions & K-12 outreach.
At Penn State, John saw firsthand the deep loyalty of students to their university. “I think that identity is really important for students,” she said. “They should feel connected to the school they attend.”
With the many initiatives under way at CU Denver to strengthen enrollment and retention, the potential is wide open to improve experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students, John said. “It’s daunting on the one hand, but it’s also exciting because you don’t often get that opportunity to walk into a situation and make that kind of change. So that’s really cool.”
John enjoys being part of the Admissions Office where she gets to be around students visiting for tours and recruitment appointments. In her spare time John loves going to amusement parks, so it’s not surprising that, when she’s not pouring over data, she likes being where the action is.
“There’s just an energy and a vibe in Admissions that gets you excited about what you’re doing,” she said.