Admission funnel statistics are at the heart of the data that directors manage. They are used throughout the season to help track whether you are ahead or behind the previous year in your recruitment, application numbers and yield. Monitoring funnel statistics throughout the year allows you to make real-time adjustments in your efforts to ensure you meet your objectives.
At the close of the school year, funnel statistics are generally used to provide your board with a big-picture overview of the strengths and weaknesses of the past admission season. Counts by grade level for each stage of the funnel help you identify whether you are in a situation of needing to more aggressively recruit or manage over-interest. The percent of applicants that move from one stage to another helps you identify potential holes in your funnel.
Here we will discuss specific techniques that you can use to help your audience – be it your board or the faculty – identify the messages your funnel statistics are conveying.
An Excel table
Again, we use as our starting point your typical Excel funnel statistics table:
Funnel statistics usually contain two categories of data: the number of students at each stage of your process and the percentage of students who move from one stage to the next (yield). In our example, we present a fairly typical selection of this data for board reports. We show applicant counts at each stage as well as the most important yield percentage: the percentage of students who have chosen to enroll (the matriculation percent).
A cleaner Excel table
As we have mentioned previously, start with a template that is clean and simple, allowing you to easily highlight the most relevant information and elevating the level of sophistication. In this report below, there is no black and there are minimal grid lines with lots of white space. Variations in font size and type indicate the importance of the information. Using this design as a template allows the reader to clearly focus on the data that matters. Imagine what happens when a set of these numbers is displayed in a bold color; they would really stand out for your audience.
A better Excel table
As you read last week, our first step is to add some basic formatting using Excel’s Format as Table capability. Here, we applied some of those recommended techniques, including eliminating grid lines and adding color for visual interest, as we wanted to feature the matriculation percentage at each grade. We did this using a conditional formatting technique. Selecting the “data bars” option for the yield percent column allows the audience to see that visual representation of each percent.
Conditional formatting can also be helpful if you are interested in quickly telling your audience whether your numbers were up or down relative to last year. You can use color and apply rules to cells based on whether they were higher or lower, or you can have Excel display icons based on these rules:
Think about charting yield percentage
At Ravenna, our reports show all our funnel statistics both as counts in each category and also as yield percentages (what percent of applicants move from one category to the next). Many people focus on the traditional funnel graph, but as you are evaluating your own statistics, consider using yield percentage charts to compare one group of applicants to another. For example, the graph below is an example of one of our reports, looking at yield percentage by ethnicity. By comparing the yield pattern among the different ethnicities (as selected by applicant families), you might be able to identify where in the admission process certain populations of your applicant pool are not moving to the next step.
Stay tuned for the next article in our series where we will look at how admission directors cans use PowerPoint to create visually appealing infographics for board reports.