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Episode #21
Filling Seats Podcast | October 11, 2022

Finding best-fit students while growing enrollment

In this episode:

You’ll hear from Michael Ruiz who is the Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid at Southern Illinois University School of Law. SIU is a mid-sized public university in Carbondale, Illinois.

You'll hear him discuss:

  • How they balance the demand for filling seats with the desire for finding the best-fit students
  • How in-person visits fit into their overall strategy
  • How they make it all work with a small team and a shrinking prospective student population
Michael Ruiz

Michael Ruiz

Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid

Podcast Inst Logos-21

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 21 of filling seats. In this episode, you'll hear from Michael Ruiz, who is the assistant Dean for admissions and financial aid at Southern Illinois university school of law. SIU is a mid-sized public university in Carbondale, Illinois. You'll hear him discuss how they balance the demand for filling seats, with the desire for finding the best fit students.

[00:00:56] Host: How in-person visits, fit into their overall strategy and how they make it all work with a small team and a shrinking prospective student population. Let's meet Mike.

[00:01:06] Michael Ruiz: I graduated from law school in 1993. I was an attorney with a local legal aid office for four years and then I came over to the law school on a research grant to put self-help materials on the internet, which back in 1997 was a really big deal, . And cause it's before legal Zoom and things like that.

[00:01:26] and I did that for, quite some time, but while I was here,, I worked in the legal clinic and ran the school's externship program and then our admissions person left to be work in the US attorney's office and the dean said, How would you like to try out admissions for a while? And I did that for seven years.

[00:01:43] Michael Ruiz: I left the admissions office to go work as the system-wide, director of communications. Did that for two years. Then I ran the university's communications department for about another four to five years. Came back to law school to run their l m and MLS program. and then the career services person left.

[00:02:01] Michael Ruiz: And so I did that for another six or seven years. And now since our, missions person left to start her own firm, with their husband, I've taken back to admission, so I'm back to where I first started again. Full circle.

[00:02:15] Host: Within higher ed, you've only worked at this one institution.

[00:02:19] Michael Ruiz: Yes. Did all my jobs at Southern Illinois University on the Carbondale campus.

[00:02:23] Host: and how many total? I feel like you listed about nine different positions.

[00:02:28] Michael Ruiz: That sounds about right. I think nine might be actually the number I've never actually looked in. I have to cut 'em up my head. It's been a lot. I've got a lot of name tags somewhere over here on a file cabinet. That's where I put them after I switch jobs. So they're probably at least nine name tags there.

[00:02:42] Host: Tell me a little bit about your current role and then how would you describe your institution?

[00:02:48] So my current role is assistant Dean for admissions and financial aid at the S I U School of Law. so my job is to basically, do two things, obviously to recruit people to apply to the law school, and then when they apply to make sure that their application, is processed, that it gets through the commissions committee, they're given the proper.

[00:03:06] Michael Ruiz: Scholarship if want, if they're eligible for one, and to communicate with them in such a way that they, hopefully they'll accept or offer of admission and enroll, at our institu. And then about s i u, the law school specifically, it's the law school is one of the 10 smallest public law schools in the country.

[00:03:23] Michael Ruiz: It's less than 250 students total. We're located in a campus town called Carbondale, which is a small town in rural southern Illinois. the three main reasons why people come to our school, we've been polling them. Over 20 years. It's always been the same. Three reasons. It's size. They like the small school, let's stop for everyone.

[00:03:39] Michael Ruiz: But for people who come here, they like that. the location, they either like the location that we're in Illinois or at state school in Illinois or we're very far in southern Illinois. We're eco distant from Little Rock, Arkansas as from Chicago. So we get a lot of people from Kentucky, Missouri, Indiana.

[00:03:55] and so they like that location in the Midwest. And then our cost, we're very inp. Again for law school , and if you ranked all the law schools by graduating debt, and the latest ranking, we were number 16. And so for some people who are looking to keep their debt down, that's why they choose our school.

[00:04:13] Host: I know there are only about 200 total law schools, and if you would've asked me what's the average size of a law school, I would've said like a couple hundred. So I'm very curious that you're saying that you're about 200 and you're the, in the 10

[00:04:30] Host: smallest. So,what's the average size?

[00:04:33] You know, it's interesting, I've never been asked that. My guess in talking to my peers is probably, most schools have an entering class. Closer to 200, if not more. And so there are schools with, seven, 800 students and, so I could probably check and see exactly what the average is, but I would have to say it, but probably is closer to fi.

[00:04:52] Michael Ruiz: It's almost double the size of our school,

[00:04:54] Host: So you're, entering classes are about.

[00:04:57] Michael Ruiz: between 90 and a hundred.

[00:04:58] Host: So what are your current enrollment goals?

[00:05:01] Michael Ruiz: Right now we've been in the last two classes been 90 students. I think the dean and the dean's fos. The provost would like that to be closer to a hundred. And so that's our goal. , because we're such a small school, the people are very important. And so we just don't wanna add 10 more students, add 10 more students.

[00:05:17] Michael Ruiz: I think like most schools, whether they're undergraduate, professional, They want the people that are a good fit for their school. And hopefully we can get to that 100 mark, but we want to get there in a way that benefits both the school and the student. Iwhen you're a small school in a rural area, you wanna make sure you've got students that, are, we fit their career plans and we can't afford to lose anybody when you only have nineties or a hundred students.

[00:05:41] Michael Ruiz: So adding 10 more people, while I noticed some people's like, well, 10 more people. Can't you just find that at a bus stop? What are you doing? it's important to find 10 people that will stay the entire time and be happy here and graduate and be happy alum.

[00:05:53] Host: The size of the class is important, but it's maybe equally or more important that you are shaping your class and bringing in the right students. Is that accurate?

[00:06:03] Michael Ruiz: Absolutely. I think especially for us, we want students that. We can help along their way, right? So depending on what their career goals are, what their reasons are for coming to law school, we wanna make sure that's the right fit. Ithe nice thing about having 199 law schools is that, and I tell this to students all the time, there's a perfect law school out there for everybody.

[00:06:22] Michael Ruiz: And sometimes that's us. And sometimes it's not. And sometimes it'll come to me. I'm like, Hey, you really ought check out X, or you gotta check out Y. They're like, What are you doing, ? And I'm like, Well, it just do any good to tell you. Just whatever I need to tell you to get you to come to our school. And then A, you're miserable.

[00:06:37] Michael Ruiz: And B, you don't get to where you wanna be and then you're not in the career you wanna be and that doesn't look good upon us or you. So I think, the nice thing about being a small law school means. We can make sure we're picking people that for whatever reason, the cost, the location, the size, that, that really fits in with the student's career goals,

[00:06:55] Host: Who is the right student? Is it based on their, the area of law that they want to go into?

[00:07:02] Michael Ruiz: I

[00:07:02] Michael Ruiz: think the right student would be someone probably who falls into one of three categories, right? They're either one. Very cost conscious. So for whatever reason, either because of undergraduate debt, maybe because they're coming back to school, maybe because they wanna pick a career where they know they're not gonna be making a six figure salary outta law school and they need a school that.

[00:07:24] Michael Ruiz: Cost wise fits those parameters. So tho that would be a good person, someone who needs and will thrive in a small environment. Isome people don't want the faculty member to know whether they've been in every class or don't want everyone walking down the hall to know everything about them. They need a little more anonymity. Or similarly, some people, want and need a very, good student faculty ratio or just needs to have class sizes of 25 students or less that way. They can perform,So the small has to work for them, but again, there's trade offs with a small school. And so are they willing to make those tradeoffs?

[00:07:58] Michael Ruiz: We don't have the number of programs, the number of clinics, the number of things that maybe a much larger school would have. And then finally the location, right? So we're located here in St. Illinois, in the Midwest. And it's not that we don't have alums across the country, we do, but most of our alums are here in the Midwest.

[00:08:14] Michael Ruiz: And so if someone comes to me and says, I wanna work in downtown New York all. We have some alums in downtown New York. But my question is gonna be like, okay, you're not considering law New York law schools. Why ? And maybe be like, Hey, my husband's relocated Illinois. We gotta looking for a law school.

[00:08:30] Michael Ruiz: We gotta work. Go there. All right, let's do that. let's make that work. But again, there are people, definitely, were a regional school and I think that if someone has to, if they don't fit that region, there better be one of the other reasons that would make them a good.

[00:08:44] Host: So you seem to have a really clear vision for who the perfect student is. Sometimes I find that folks sitting above us in higher roles are a little bit more. Visionary at times. Does your vision for the perfect student ever misalign with

[00:09:04] Host: provost or presidents

[00:09:05] Michael Ruiz: Oh sure. Well, I mean, first of all, obviously with any university there, there is definitely pressure for enrollment, right? the school isn't free , we don't get 100% funding from the state or anywhere else. So at some point, someone's gotta pay the bill, right? Either in a donors or donating scholarships or in the tuition that students pay.

[00:09:23] Michael Ruiz: And yes, like almost every institution there definitely is pressure just to increase. Enrollment or at least to stabilize it right at the very minimum, but probably to increase enrollment, especially now, when inflation is, costs go up for everyone, including universities. So yes, there definitely is pressure then among, Okay, you have the ideal person you want.

[00:09:43] Michael Ruiz: Then, and they want enrollment to go up. And what happens if you're the area you're recruiting from, If there's been a decrease in population student popula, maybe a great feeder school, but hey, they had a down here and there wasn't as many people at school X or department Y, then what do you do? You gotta get those people somewhere. And yes, I would say the biggest probably conflict probably comes in just the number of people. And we're not immune to that like any other place. And so at some point, You have to have some give and take. but at least we're small enough that I could try to make sure that in our materials and the things we have on the web that we're still not, someone comes in, eyes wide open and even then we'll have a couple students, at least two or three every year who will transfer.

[00:10:25] Michael Ruiz: And that's what I would call the emergency break. in that if somebody comes and it's like, Wow, this wasn't a good fit, or, Maybe there's a place that's a better fit. The nice thing about law school and in this country is that the first year of law school is the same at almost every ABA accredited law school.

[00:10:41] Michael Ruiz: And while that probably drives the faculty nuts because it doesn't give them much flexibility, what it allows is for students all over the country after the first year of law school, the transfer to a different school, now that the transferring school has to. Agree to that. You just don't walk in. Okay, I'm here.

[00:10:56] but we have at least two or three students every year who transfer. And that's not a lot of, that's not a big number of other people, but that's a big number to us. And so we hope to at least maybe get a couple coming into our school, to offset that. but that is like my fail safe if I feel like somebody's here and those things didn't line up, but we still need to get them where they need to be.

[00:11:16] Host: What technology is making the biggest impact for your school?

[00:11:21] Michael Ruiz: I would say right now, we have a CRM that allows us to personalize. And that's been a, that's been a buzzword now for my, got over a decade. and I think, hopefully we're gonna be able to use it to the effect that we can then really drill down, like I talked about on those goals of the student, make sure you have a good fit or the minimum, make sure they understand the school that's coming.

[00:11:41] But I think more and more applicants want to know. Not in general, like why other people are coming to your school. Why should I come to your school? And so any technology that can help us personalize that is gonna be a positive thing now. What's difficult is that hey, everyone's doing that, right?

[00:12:01] Michael Ruiz: And so that's not like, Hey, , that's something unique. And the students are getting more of that than they've ever gotten before, whether it's personalized print materials, emails, and so video. And so the challenge is to how does your stuff stand? and how do you enrich the student if they're getting inundated with emails and video and print materials?

[00:12:24] Michael Ruiz: and communications from the 199 other law schools would like to have that student enroll.

[00:12:29] What is your level of personalization?

[00:12:32] Well, I think in the perfect world, the personalization would be. You've collected enough information from that perspective applicant, or applicant, or admitted student, depending where they are in the funnel, that you can send them something other than just, Hey, here's what makes our university great.

[00:12:50] You can point to something particularly that matches that student's career goals or their, at least their areas of interest, or at least, or at the minimum, maybe they're. Trying to think of the right word here. Probably what things they've done the past and so that maybe would be a good match for the future. And so something about either from the resume or from something that they've told you about what they want to do, that student feels, okay, this is the, this is a connection here.

[00:13:18] but I don't think that, I think for us, What the technology hasn't done yet, and what hopefully we are able to do is to. Have still that personal touch where someone reaches out to that person and talks to them, or at the minimum emails them and has a conversation back and forth. Because as much personalization as you might be able to do by saying, Okay, look, if the student checks the box saying, I'm interested in environmental law, then when we send the letter or email, it mentions our faculty member who teaches the environmental law and some classes or a clinic or whatever.

[00:13:50] Michael Ruiz: That's good, and I think you should definitely do that, but I don't think that beats having a student or a faculty. Who was in the Environmental law society or faculty member who teaches environmental law personally reach out to that person and engage in a conversation. I think that, I remember when I picked a law school, one of the things that was big to me was being at event in person, where people were talking to me and there was things going around.

[00:14:13] Michael Ruiz: So as great as the personalization has gone, the technology is gone. I don't think it replaces that personal touch.

[00:14:20] What marketing channels do you rely on most?

[00:14:24] Michael Ruiz: I would say right now for our students, Probably it is still the mo, the most is email, right? you'd like to think that's been replaced by something else. obviously when I first got in this business, it was print, which is just showing my age. But, but right now, and it's been for a while, email and it's interesting, I go to many, go to events, go to conferences, and youd like to think that some social media channel.

[00:14:46] setting up some kind of portal that only you communicate with your students like through a class or through a blog or something like that, will have replaced that. even in person communication, like having students or alums call people or setting up events, nothing probably has replaced email as the thing.

[00:15:05] Michael Ruiz: Student that places rely on the most, especially for, to sort that more frequent communication as far as something that you know that you can send. Now, whether or not you know the person's received it is a whole different story. But I would say that email probably is replaced print as the marketing channel that we rely on the most.

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[00:16:59] Host: Learn

[00:17:03] Host: What other channels are you utilizing? Are you doing any digital ads? Organic social media, streaming ads, anything like that?

[00:17:12] so our ads are paid for by the central university and put out, and yes, they're doing both digital and streaming ads for us. And the nice thing about those ads is that, like most admissions people know they can be really well targeted either to a geo geography or to a school or to an age group.

[00:17:28] Michael Ruiz: And so that's a nice thing. But digital ads now and then of course there are companies out there that ask us to place ads with them because they reach. Particular populations, whether it's just undergraduate students in general or people interested in law. And so yes, we probably, like most schools, have a combination of ads that we put out and then our marketing department for the university decides on the platform or.

[00:17:50] where and how those should be sent. And a lot of times it could be just simple, buying,search ads. I call 'em search ads and they're called something else. But basically, when someone use the search engine and looks for X, Y, or Z, our ad would come up at least maybe in the top one or top three to, depending on one, the paid ad that's offered by Google or the search engine engines you're going with.

[00:18:07] But there are, Facebook, all social media things have those ad capabilities now. and they allow you to dial in exactly. What the group is that you're trying to target and they're just limited by money, right? ? , at some point it's like, well, I'd like to do more, but I'm now out of money, so this is the amount I'm doing.

[00:18:23] what that's done, I could tell in the 25 years I've been working is that. Where before, like for instance, we would do a billboard maybe or a movie theater ad, or an airport ad. Not that we still don't do some of those, but even though there's not many people in movie theaters. But when you would do those ads in the past, it was Hey, we did the ad and that was it.

[00:18:41] Michael Ruiz: Exactly. That silence. Crickets. Now what you get from, your boss, the provost, and it's. Okay. What are your metrics, like, how many people saw that ad? What did they, did they click on it? Did they do something? Did they watch your video? Did they actually apply? Bill now want data, right?

[00:18:56] Michael Ruiz: And you're like, Oh, wow. Okay. So the nice thing is that those opportunities exist. The bad thing is that I think they've also dominated because of that, right? IHey, when I'm in my car, you do look at billboards. Is someone tracking that? No. But if I said, Hey, billboards don't work, is that true?

[00:19:14] Michael Ruiz: No. So I do think there's still some, forms of advertising that probably still work but aren't as measured as great as, the digital ones are. And for that reason, sometimes don't get the love. But, no, nothing is better than when you can place an ad. You can basically figure out, when did someone see it?

[00:19:32] Michael Ruiz: Where did they come from? How much time did they spend? What videos did they watch? I. That allow, that gives you so much data because that allows you to basically just to refine right your message and refine how you're delivering it. And the thing you just had to sort remind yourself is, Okay, well then this is this portion based upon, this, the people are using this particular channel or platform or whatever.

[00:19:52] Michael Ruiz: And my guess is that will, I was gonna say slowly, it's not even slowly that has taken over Advertis.

[00:19:57] Host: Where do you place the importance of visits or events within your overall strategy?

[00:20:04] Michael Ruiz: For us, I think fun for every school, but for us, definitely, it's very important. And so I went to about the two different vibes of visits. We told the visits where people come to us and the visits where we go out to other schools, but it's the same principal. And that is, is that creating that personal connection.

[00:20:17] And so when people come to us, probably like most schools, They probably have statistics to tell them, Hey, if someone visits the campus, their chances of admitting applying or matriculating go way up. And our school is no different. And so we want people to come here. Now, what could be happening is simply that they're self-selecting and just people who come to visit have already made the decision.

[00:20:36] Michael Ruiz: And but anyway, that's when we tell ourselves, so we're happy about that. But similarly, when we go out, Visit, we go out to a fair or we do a presentation at a undergraduate institution, we see the same thing, right? That those people are more likely to apply, than if someone hadn't visited. And it could simply just be that, hey, you've made that personal connection.

[00:20:53] Michael Ruiz: That's much, you feel better. Or it could be just like, Hey, that, they just, now the, your name recognition went up. Cause Oh, that's right, they came on campus and I walk by that guy and they gimme a mug. I dunno. But either way, I think schools tend to place visits both two and from their school.

[00:21:08] Michael Ruiz: as an important part of their strategy,

[00:21:10] Host: Obviously this is a very undergraduate focused tactic, is, to push, coming for a campus tour and coming for an open house day or something like that. Is that a specific push that y'all make or is it more just something that kind of happens organically and then they come to campus and meet with them, show them around et c.

[00:21:28] Michael Ruiz: It is a blend. It used to be all organic, And now I think people realize why, What are we doing? So now we set up days where people from X School come, people from Y school come and then they sit on a class, like I said, do a tour, meet with students. So schools are more and more not leaving that to chance.

[00:21:43] Michael Ruiz: That works. So let. Set it up and invite 'em that way. And so similarly, you have to have the also ones that are just more organic to where someone goes under your website or calls email and says, Hey, I'd like to come visit and set something up for them. So that way they also feel get the same sort of experience, but on a one-on-one basis.

[00:22:00] Michael Ruiz: So they, you're just limited by the number staff you have and how many of those things you can pull off before you start to annoy people. Faculty are like, Okay, how many these classes do I have to do? And who are all these tour people? What's going on? so yeah, you try to cram as many as in as you can, and then realize that hey, at least you've tried to replicate what the data tells you, and that's the course that people visit.

[00:22:23] Michael Ruiz: They're more likely to come.

[00:22:24] Host: What is something that your team is doing differently,

[00:22:27] Michael Ruiz: I think right now we're trying to do differently is. Be better about where we're spending our time. And so while it's tempting to go everywhere and do everything for everyone, at some point you do have to figure. Especially in a small office, Okay, where is the place we're gonna get the best return?

[00:22:48] Michael Ruiz: Or where have we had success? And making sure those people feel welcome. So I think what we're trying to do differently is to spend more of an effort on the people, the places where that have been good feeder schools for us. Iyou always wanna be expanding, going to more places. Sure. But one things we're doing differently is spending more time, hopefully with the people that have been, good to us.

[00:23:07] Michael Ruiz: Second thing we're doing differently, I think though, which is gonna sound counterintuitive of what I just said, is expanding. You know what pop, the pie, right? And thinking, okay, maybe there are other people interested in law school that, just , haven't made their presence known by registering for L S A T or, emailing someone.

[00:23:24] And so trying to figure out other ways to reach out to people, reach out to students who maybe aren't the typical pre-law student and get, and have them think about coming to law school, right? Because, especially here in rural America. the population is not growing right. We're not creating more high school seniors that, the published trends do not work in our favor, either the undergraduate or the law level.

[00:23:46] Michael Ruiz: So we've got to start casting a wider net, to find people that maybe hadn't thought about law school, but would make good law school students, or at least consider.

[00:23:56] Host: How are you identifying those students?

[00:23:58] Michael Ruiz: That's tough, right? so for grad students, ? if you're trying to recruit them, who's taking the gre, right? and in college again, until they get rid of the tests. Who's taking the S A T, the A C T, right? for law schools, who's taking the Ls a t or signed up for that?

[00:24:11] Michael Ruiz: And we still do that and that's still the primary thing, just like with email that we find people, but obviously there might be no interested in law. Who haven't done that yet. So then what do you do? Are you targeting certain majors? Are trying to reach out just to faculty to find those people?

[00:24:24] Michael Ruiz: So we're starting here, our own campus, to try to see if we can identify and figure out who those people are. And if we think we can get that to work here, then we could replicate it, at the other campus, within the university system, which is in, Edwardsville. And if it works there, then we in theory could then take it to other campuses.

[00:24:40] Michael Ruiz: So we're trying it here on own backyard. And that way it fails. So then not as many people know, no. If it fails, we haven't invested a lot of time and money, but if we can't make it work on campus, then it also tells us, okay, maybe this isn't working right. Maybe just leave those people alone cuz they're not interested or not don't want to go to law school.

[00:24:57] Host: What is something that your school or your team struggles with?

[00:25:01] Michael Ruiz: Oh, wow. I think like any, small. Public school, or even probably some of the private schools. maybe all schools, it's all scale, right? It's money, right? It's, a number of staff and trying to figure out, okay, if I spend my time or money on this, that means I'm not doing something else.

[00:25:18] Michael Ruiz: This, it's a zero sum game. Ithat's why I told the dean candidates, a lot of times you're gonna say, Hey, why don't we do X? It's like that X is great, but that usually means. We're not doing Y right? We can't do X and Ywe've run as much efficiency outta this as we can.

[00:25:31] Michael Ruiz: And so I think that's probably what most people struggle with is you don't seem to have enough staff do things to do all the great ideas you wanna do, and you don't have enough money to do all the things you wanna do. and just depending on how big or smaller school is, that's how big or difficult those things are.

[00:25:45] and so you struggle. Am I using my time and money in my staff's time correctly, We just spend a whole bunch of time on something that's not going to achieve results or at least quickly enough, right? To show our supervisors that we're doing something. So that's what we struggle with probably.

[00:26:01] Host: Who do you follow or learn from?

[00:26:04] when you're in this profession, you definitely learn from other schools, right? So when you go to conferences or just, you might have a regional group that gets together, either virtually in person, you learn from your peers, and there's no doubt that a lot of admissions is that way.

[00:26:15] Michael Ruiz: Sometimes just learn by, just when I walk, I was at a fair in Chicago, literal, you just walk around, look at the tables, look at their stuff like that looks cool. How'd you do that? Or you go to their websites, right? So peers is definitely. Way up there. And then for me, cause I'm on the wrong side of 50, it's students, right?

[00:26:29] Michael Ruiz: I am so far removed from when I first started working here from the typical 24 year old that I need the students to keep me grounded or just keep me relevant. And so we have student workers here, both undergraduate and law, and I really. Listen to and learn from them. But not only just the language they use, but and saying, Hey, did people watch this?

[00:26:49] Michael Ruiz: Do they read this? Did you read these emails? If I'm struggling over the content, sometimes I'll bring one of them in, I'll pull my monitor over. I'm like, Hey all, would you open that? does this make sense? And so I think both my peers and then are students, whether they're undergraduate or law or people that I learned from, because sometimes I realize, Wow, that I was way wrong,

[00:27:08] what do you see for the future of law school marketing?

[00:27:13] Michael Ruiz: Oh, I think marketing in general. if you read the stuff I read and talk to people, I talk to, it's video. I think I read something where. There's a majority of people in the country that do their searching on TikTok, right? They don't use Google. They search for videos and look for video information that way.

[00:27:30] Michael Ruiz: And so I see the future of marketing in general, whether it's, higher ed or law school as. Video content, right? And people will watch a video about applying to law school. They'll watch a video about financial aid. they'll watch video for virtual tours, but they'll watch video for everything.

[00:27:44] Michael Ruiz: And the way we used to do, text on a website, or instructions and an application, they'll want to see a video about that.

[00:27:50] Host: So Howard, y'all utilizing video.

[00:27:53] Michael Ruiz: We're not to the extent we should. And that's what I would say probably is, something we need to be doing is creating more video content and in a way, and in a format and on a platform the students will want. And so that's something we need to be doing more. We have video that's been done for us, and so that video luckily provides us with ways of reaching the students that we currently visit our website.

[00:28:14] but we need to do a lot more video.

[00:28:16] Host: . What is an app or a marketing tool that you could not live?

[00:28:20] Michael Ruiz: you know, if you consider email, that's it. If the email went down, be like, Whoa, we've just ran outta way to reach people right now. So right now, as anxious as it is, it probably would still be email, right? that's something that the mission's office would probably grind to a halt.

[00:28:33] Michael Ruiz: And then after email, then I think there's just a,after email, what would be the tool that I couldn't live without? I don't know. It'd probably just be a combination. Bunch of ties between different social media platforms that we used to convey information to our students and applicants and admitted students.

[00:28:50] Host: I would love to know of the nine positions that you've held, which has been your favorite

[00:28:56] let's see here. I need to get my name tags out. I think that the one I really enjoyed the most doing. At the time was when I was in charge. I was director of University of Communications.

[00:29:06] I worked with all these other directors on campus and it was a team sort of approach to getting things done. I had about 30 people that reported to me. I really loved all those employees. And so at the time, I really thought that was, that's something I really enjoyed doing. Now the question is, Was I good at it?

[00:29:26] Michael Ruiz: I don't know. I maybe really wasn't. I didn't have the background that most people had to be a communications director, so I'm certain the current person is doing a much better job than me. But again, it was one of those situations where the person, that position had left and allowed the jobs I've gotten in this campus.

[00:29:41] Michael Ruiz: Someone said, Hey, would that be something you'd be doing, Mike? Yeah, it would. And so I did it temporarily for a long time so it was a very stressful, but definitely very wor rewarding position. And I would encourage anyone that's working in higher ed, not as a faculty person, as a staff person, to try to seek out those kinds of position.

[00:29:58] and if you could go back five to 10 years and give yourself advice, what would it.

[00:30:03] Michael Ruiz: Pay attention more to social media and video. I think that probably mostly it's a generational thing, right? And I, or just me, I don't know. but yeah, I would but done that, we would've put more attention and time, my own time into that, and we would've been creating more content than we currently have.

[00:30:22] Host: How can someone connect with you if they'd like to do that?

[00:30:25] email which is just

[00:30:29] Host: awesome. thank you so much for interviewing with me today. This was great.

[00:30:33] Michael Ruiz: so much.


[00:30:36] Host: This is the Filling Seats podcast, hosted by StudentBridge, your one stop shop for easy and engaging enrollment solutions. If you're tired of snory-telling, and ready to start storytelling your way to better visits and better enrollment, visit

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