Five Ways to Enhance Your Student Recruitment

4 min read

Chelsea Castonguay Stanhope

It’s not much of a secret the game has changed in regards to student recruitment, especially over the last year. COVID-19 turned the world on its ear, and with it went the relatively well-understood cycles of student recruitment. However, sometimes getting back to basics can be a great way to figure out where you’re at, and where you need to be headed in order to move forward. This checklist for student recruitment can help you and your institution figure out what the next steps are in regards to making a great game plan for catching the attention of prospective students.

Dig into the data 

Take a look at whatever data you can gather. Check out email replies, clicks on websites, or advertisements, as well as feedback given by students and parents. Once it’s compiled, break it down to see what worked, what didn’t, and which areas proved to be surprisingly successful. For example, did you see an increase in clicks on social media ads? Did students enjoy social media takeovers? Whatever’s working, figure out how to utilize it so you can continue to reap the benefits. 

Don’t be afraid to share data students are interested in, either. Make sure you’re sharing positive highlights of your school regularly, such as job placements, salary ranges, improvements to the school, and other successes. In the wake of COVID-19, let students and their families know how your institution is planning to continue to keep their students safe and on track for graduation.

Ask yourself the question, "what do students truly want?"

It’s easy to assume we know what students want, but sometimes this just isn’t the case. While in the past sending out paper mailers of information, or large admissions packets was the norm, nowadays students are going digital. They expect their universities to keep up. In addition to needing campus visits to help secure their decision, students are reviewing information about universities all year long. There is no longer a formal “recruitment season”; instead students are online at all times. Therefore, it’s important to make sure admissions and recruitment staff are ready to be responsive to questions, providing information readily, and inviting students to campus to tour their future schools. Developing a social media calendar can help staff stay on track when it comes to regular offerings for students, which will help keep content fresh and engaging.

Define your strategy

Recruitment is important for the long term success of a university, but “research shows that less than half of all higher education institutions have a clear strategy that guides the development of their recruitment efforts.” Therefore, it’s critical to have a strategy in place to help manage the rapidly changing recruitment environment. If your office is finding itself overwhelmed, getting help to harness the available tools and techniques to reach prospective students can greatly increase the overall awareness of your school. Remind yourself that the ultimate goal is to get students to commit to attending your institution, so keeping the student journey in mind is critical. 

Utilize your student base

One of the best ways to reach prospective students is to utilize your current student population. After all, who’s better at attracting students than their own peers who are loving their education and their university? The top universities in the world with the best recruitment practices are using student ambassadors, and asking students to step in and help generate content for social media. Prospective students are seeking authentic views into life at your university, and want to understand all aspects of it. Ask students to share their classes, their residence halls, programs, clubs, sports, and anything that might appeal to prospective students. Allowing current students to share their experiences is a great way to give the insider’s perspective on what it’s really like to attend your school. 

Consider virtual from a long-term perspective

Times are changing, and even though universities are opening again, students may not want to come in person, or are understanding the benefits of continuing their education online. Therefore, it’s going to be important to continue streamlining and offering virtual services to students. This includes open houses or open days, admissions sessions, college fairs, and orientations. Allow students to get a taste of what life is like at your school while staying in the safety and comfort of their homes. Students who may not be able to attend in person still want to feel valued and included, so making the online experience enjoyable is going to help them feel as though they are wanted by your school. 

Recruitment is something that has changed rapidly in recent years, and is undoubtedly going to keep adapting. Even though it seems like the future of education is online, students are ready to return to campus. Therefore, recruiting them to your campus is key. By taking the time to assess where your recruitment process is currently at, and making a plan to go forward, you can position your university to successfully weather any storm.

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