Student recruitment is a critical part of any higher education institution’s success. But how enrollment staff targets the next generation of students varies greatly. Every school will tailor their recruitment strategy based on its desired student demographic, then tinker with that approach to optimize it across different sub-demographics.
The more specialized the strategy for college enrollment, the more successful those approaches can be.
Looking to re-imagine your current marketing and college recruitment strategies? Keep these five tips in mind while planning.
1. Rely on Social Media & User-Generated Content
Social media can be a powerful tool for universities to engage with potential students. By creating content and engaging in conversations with students on platforms like Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, college enrollment staff can reach a large audience and build relationships with potential students. In some cases, recruitment officers might even target social media influencers in what’s called ‘influencer marketing’. These influencers are able to leverage their large social media followings and help spread the word about their school and potentially boost college enrollment
2. Deliver Clear Information
Up to 80% of students say that a school’s cost of attendance influences where they decide to apply. Providing clear financial information is one way to boost college enrollment. And one area where many colleges fall short. Students see the “average” cost and don’t understand that they will pay less. This means colleges lose students who would have applied if the net price had been more clearly communicated. And while finances might be one of the most important topics, schools should also provide snapshots about the school’s history, mission, academic programs, and student life. Additionally, admissions staff should ensure that their website is easy to navigate and provides all of the necessary information to help students make informed decisions.
3. Reach Every Student with a Virtual Tour
Virtual tours are a great way for universities to give potential students a glimpse of their campus—especially for prospective students who may be located hundreds of miles away. By leveraging video, 3D images, and other interactive features, college enrollment staff can provide a comprehensive view of their facilities. This gives students a chance to get a better understanding of their school and imagine themselves as full-time students.
4. Build Relationships
Higher education institutions should focus on building relationships with students and their families. In fact, this is a perennial recruitment strategy used by enrollment staff around the country. Building relationships can be done by attending college fairs, doing outreach to students, making personal connections, and even offering scholarships and other incentives. To do this, admissions staff can leverage data and analytics to understand their target demographic and tailor their recruitment efforts accordingly. In some cases, specialized NPCs can provide this type of data.
5. Take a New Approach to Finances
Some universities are now ditching enrollment deposits as a way to encourage students to apply. After all, one of the most pressing concerns for prospective students (and one of the biggest drivers of summer melt) is finances. By eliminating the enrollment deposit, universities can make the application process easier and more accessible to potential students.
The New Approach
As outlined by the approaches above, universities are looking to boost enrollment by leveraging student interest in social media and virtual technology. Aside from perennial suggestions like providing accurate information and building unique connections with each student, US universities are now focusing on social media, influencer culture, and even virtual reality to connect with the right students. Additionally, many universities are developing a new approach to enrollment by eliminating enrollment deposits. There is no single solution, but the right combination will lead to more applications and a higher rate of enrollment.