image shows students sitting outside on university steps chatting

The Dos and Don’ts of Student Recruitment

4 min read

Sara Anderson

Declining enrollment numbers across U.S. colleges and universities — down by nearly one million than before the pandemic began — have supercharged recruitment efforts. Schools are tapping into bold, creative ways to stand out in a fiercely competitive market.

‘Going back to basics’ may be the answer to turning around declining curves, so we have had a look at the “do’s” and “dont’s” for recruiting students.

Support, support, support

Searching for colleges is overwhelming. Leaving home for the first time, the cost of studying, choosing a major which will give a return on investment, plus trying to work out your career path.

 Most 17-year-olds won’t know where to start when it comes to asking for help – they probably don’t even know exactly what they need help with. Offer advice and solutions honestly, share the resources and help available on campus, and spotlight student counselors and offices who will be able to answer any of their questions.

While most communications are online in 2022, a phone call from an admissions counselor can ease anxieties and offer a personal touch.

Leverage the most important source of information: your website.

 A college’s website remains the most important source of information at all stages of the funnel. In a survey by SalesForce, 92% of respondents said it was more important than social media.

Keep your focus on updating website materials, instead of using all resources on social media.

Student testimonials have proven year after year to be highly useful sources of information for prospective students – make sure these are signposted across all your recruitment and landing pages.

For postgraduate students, rankings of programs and institutions are helpful for students making enrollment decisions. Ensure these are easily accessible to website visitors.

Be memorable

Communicating through various touch points delivers a memorable message, especially when it’s personalized. But when a high school student has looked at college after college, schools that provide a memorable experience will make the final cut.

While teens’ social media consumption is largely passive, a lasting impression is all it takes to spark interest and a real connection.

According to the US internet population statistics, 81% of users on YouTube are 18-25, making it the largest audience on the platform. Campus videos on YouTube and ‘a day in the life’ videos resonate, but they must inspire action, like directing back to your website.

Don't rely on admissions alone; cross-collaboration is key

Admissions and marketing departments work together to support each other with one goal: boost enrollment. Other departments can also be a great resource and give new perspectives on reaching prospective students, for example, career services.

They can offer details of student career outcomes, highlighting a need for college-educated employees in a specific field or industry.

This could lead to a new marketing campaign or a new outreach strategy. Tapping into various departments means seeing things from a new lens and bringing the student journey into focus.

Don’t forget about in-person campus visits

It’s easy to direct a prospective student to sign up for a virtual visit or send them a link to a 360-degree interactive campus tour. But as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, it’s crucial to say, “Come to campus.”

In a survey by BHDP, 95% of respondents said a campus tour was important in their decision to enroll, with 85% saying it was “very” or "extremely” important.

Going back to basics creates new ways of thinking and innovative ways of segmenting your target audience through the enrollment funnel, nurturing the student journey, and achieving the end goal: converting inquiries to enrollment — and taking an honest look at those new numbers.

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