In the post-pandemic world, many colleges and universities face challenges in recruiting students for higher education.
Some of the challenges are related to increased tuition costs, branding, and alternative modes of learning.
According to Keystone, While students once had to compete against each other to gain entry into their course of choice, today they have more options than ever before.
The stats show that 30% of students are applying to seven or more colleges, and many are considering studying abroad.
This reveals that universities are not only competing on a local level but also on the global stage. With lots of students opting for online courses or short, on-the-job training alternatives, student recruitment has become far more challenging.
Those who recruit students for higher education must be as creative and innovative as ever before. They must approach prospective students at the right time, with the right message, and with proposals.
According to QuadC, recruiting students is one of the most important tasks for an institution. Even if a school has optimized all aspects of its courses and programs, these are useless if students are not enrolling.
Unfortunately, the current landscape is less than perfect.
Nationwide, undergraduate enrollment dropped 7.8 percent from the fall of 2019 to the fall of 2021, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
Community colleges saw even higher enrollment drops with nearly 15 percent during that same period. But despite the pandemic’s toll, many college admissions officials and academic leaders are optimistic that things will improve moving forward.
Here are the 10 fundamental strategies that should lay the foundation for an effective student recruitment strategy.
Focus on job placements
The potential for getting well-paid jobs is one of the key considerations for high school students when they are contemplating their options for continued education.
You should know that according to SNHU, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that workers with a postsecondary degree typically earn more than those with only a high school education.
The median weekly earnings—or the middle amount in a set of data—for people with an associate degree was $963 per week in 2021.
That’s an increase of $154 per week or over $8,000 more per year than those with only a high school diploma.
Workers with a bachelor’s degree earned a median of $1,334 weekly—$525 more per week than workers without a postsecondary education and an increase of more than $27,000 per year.
A master’s degree helped workers earn even more at a median of $1,574 per week, $765 more weekly than those with only a high school diploma and almost $40,000 more per year.
High-paying jobs may require advanced degrees or knowledge and often are roles with more authority, which people may respect.
A good reputation because of a job that pays well can also increase social influence and self-confidence.
Draw on statistics and provide a reliable forecast for the kinds of jobs students will be able to land with a degree from the proposed college.
Applicants should be able to assess the odds of building a successful and rewarding career.
Use data and statistics to prove your point. It is important to be objective too. Reinforce your arguments by drawing on third-party sources.
Use relevant articles and fact-based reports in the media or published by leading companies.
Draw on examples from the alumni
It is hard to beat the power of personal examples. Let the alumni showcase their success by telling their stories.
No matter how good your pitch is, it will lack substance if you are not able to demonstrate the benefits without evidence.
Prospective students should also know that they will be able to draw on professional assistance in managing tough college workloads.
Many current college students use Top Writers Review to identify reliable and trustworthy online essay writing services.
Professional writers ease students’ academic burdens by providing high-quality content on time and at reasonable rates.
Make your case
Many students quit college to find jobs and substitute formal college education for short, on-the-job training courses.
Recruiters have to be clear on the advantages of choosing formal higher education to convince applicants they will be able to gain from greater benefits.
This can be a tall order. Many students think it is not worth spending four long years in college when you can get off to a promising career today.
Why spend long hours in class when your rivals are already developing critical skills through gaining hands-on experience?
This is an important question, and you must be prepared to provide a compelling answer.
Use Social Media
Use Social Media to set up communication channels that the students are most comfortable with.
According to a 2016 study conducted by Ruffalo Noel Levitz, here’s how students prefer the first contact with colleges:
|Method of Communication||Four-year private institutions||Four-year public institutions|
|Email (with personalized/branded link)||37%||33%|
The majority of college-going students are active on social media.
Research has shown that “real brand benefits are achieved when universities interact on social media.”
To take full advantage of this, you need to be present.
Build an engaging website
Prior to enrolling at a university, students always check the university’s website.
Therefore, you should include some engaging elements on your website to catch the attention of your visitors.
- Choose a headline that motivates your target audience
- Make a strong call to action
- Make a readily available form for users who are ready to take action
- Make multiple ways for students to contact you so you can catch them at the right time – chat, form, email, phone number, & text.
Increased website performance leads to increased revenue and equal opportunities.
Although you will be targeting large numbers of applicants, you should retain the ability to customize services to specific individuals.
The needs vary from applicant to applicant, and your overall success depends on the ability to cater to the requirements of discrete students.
This applies to both the pre and post-application stages.
Many applicants would want to know how they will be able to develop their writing skills, critical thinking capabilities, and other important skills that will advance their continued academic performance.
Optimize content for online attention
In order to attract students, you must optimize your online content so that you appear in their search results and compel them to open your site.
According to CallHub, best practices to optimize online content:
They say the best place to hide a dead body is on the 2nd page of Google. And why not– 95% of all search traffic never goes beyond page 1 of Google.
The first ten queries get 208% CTR– these two statistics show how important it is to appear on the first page and compete for the top 10.
website and landing pages: According to a 2019 study by eMarketer, teens (aged 13-17) spend 62% of their screen time on phones.
So if your website doesn’t fit well on its small screens or isn’t otherwise mobile optimized, you lose the young prospects’ attention.
Use accurate targeting for the audience
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter ads should appear on the feeds of people looking for courses, in your country and in locations that are allowed to travel in your country (due to COVID-19 restrictions).
Videos are no longer just an option
Gen-Z watches 2-4 hours of YouTube videos daily. Since videos are aesthetic, concise in providing information, and can maintain attention, they are critical for your student recruitment strategies.
The attention span of a student is just 8 seconds, so every university and college is competing for it.
Participate in high school internships
Research shows that event-based marketing is the most effective marketing strategy. Instead of relying solely on online marketing.
According to Meratas, incorporate visits to local high school job fairs and host virtual campus tours —something 64% of high school students use when researching higher education facilities
Attend these events and collect the names and contact information of prospective students.
Then, you can run retargeting campaigns on Facebook to engage with them pre-event-a strategy rated the most effective for attracting new students.
Scholarships and financial aid
Affordability is often the decisive factor in making the final decision. Applicants need to know the odds of obtaining a full or partial scholarship.
The chances of applying for financial aid also matter. You need to be able to provide exhaustive information about all options available. You can use social media.
Be prepared to provide detailed information. Put applicants in touch with relevant funding sources.
Offer tips on how to structure applications and which sponsors to apply to depending on applicants’ specific circumstances.
The majority of college-going students are active on social media. Research has shown that “real brand benefits are achieved when universities interact on social media.”
To take full advantage of this, you need to be present.
See also: College Student Presentations Tips
Read your previous enrollment data
Your recruitment strategy may already be based on data you already have.
Consider the data you’ve already collected during previous admission processes, such as:
- What is the origin of the majority of existing students? Did they move to attend school?
- If you ran an enrollment survey, why did previous students pick your college?
Which marketing channel tends to generate the most inquiries from potential students?
Fundamental student recruitment strategies for higher education have become increasingly challenging.
With numerous alternatives available, recruiters need to keep refining their pitch to clearly demonstrate the competitive advantages of higher education institutions.
Prospective students will base their decision on a number of factors, including the prospects of building successful careers, options for supporting education costs, and the flexibility of proposed colleges to meet their individual needs.
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Joanne Elliot is a professional writer and education analyst. She has multiple reviews and research works in the education sector under her belt. Recently, Joanne has focused on recruitment strategies that help colleges and universities attract the best talent.