More and more, as I work with colleges and universities, I am hearing the word “transparency” coming up as a needed service standard. This implies to me, that currently, there is little to no transparency. Is it that we live in such a non-transparent world today that people are wowed by the organization that actually does what it says it will do? Or is it that people are wowed by the organization that actually tells them what is happening backstage so they are “in the know” too? Is that why the Chinese are so upset that they have been told so little about the mysterious downing of the Malaysian jet? They don’t feel they are in the know and that information is being sugar-coated and piece-mealed before getting to them.
I have read that once our hospitals and healthcare systems take the pledge of “transparency” that they will not even resemble what they are today. Armed with budgets and operating costs, people will know who is really there to help them or if the hospital administration and medical groups are just looking to fill their pockets.
From my perspective, it looks like colleges and universities are starting to recognize the huge impact of not being transparent. For them, it is being felt in the lack of increased enrollments, returning students, returning staff and faculty, and graduation rates.
One of the best ways, a university can show transparency is by allowing current and recent alumni of the university to share their stories on your website. The website is currently the very first touch point a potential applicant is going to check out. Having youtube videos of real students or alumni talking about their campus experience is the best way to communicate what your school and campus are really like. Student retention will increase if you are honest about what kind of students will fit in with your culture vs. trying to admit every person who wants to enroll whether they are a good fit or not.
University of Puget Sound has a great website that shows transparency in so many ways. They even have a page for Parents and Counselors as part of the Admissions section. In the case of choosing a university or college, the mantra of “No Surprises” is a much better show of transparency and honesty that will pay off dividends in the long run.