The process of recruiting new college students is about to change drastically. Even before the covid-19 pandemic, universities were offering more online classes, and students were starting to discover universities from their phones or direct mail pieces. Now, likely through 2020 and even into 2021, many students will be unable to physically visit schools. It’s time for your school to step up the in-home recruiting game to reach them.
We’ve been lucky to work with a number of different schools in the past, and from them we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. If your recruiting strategy could use a boost, keep reading to find out some of our best tips for reaching potential new students.
Recruiting Tip #1: LISTEN.
Any time you’re interacting with potential students and their families, listen very closely and carefully to their questions and concerns. Before launching into a spiel about everything your school has to offer, do your homework to learn what they’re most interested in hearing about and what questions they have for you. Then you can cater your messages toward these topics and guide them toward additional resources that will be most useful to them.
If you’re speaking to a more general group, be sure answer frequently asked questions and provide additional resources they can use to ask more questions. If you see new common threads in students’ questions or interests, make it a priority to include more information about those topics in your presentations and materials going forward.
Recruiting Tip #2: Consult Their Peers.
When developing your recruiting materials and presentations, talk to current students or recent alumni from your school to hear their perspective. To make your materials more relatable, include their most helpful stories and pieces of advice wherever possible. It can really ease high school seniors’ anxiety when they hear reassurances from people who were recently in their position and understand all their concerns. When words of encouragement that the campus is safe and fun come from their peers, it sounds much more believable than when it comes from an admissions officer (no offense!).
Recruiting Tip #3: Send Quality Materials.
Students will likely spend hours making their college decision, and while they reflect on their options, they are going to need catalogs and brochures to reference. If you’re not able to welcome students on campus this year, sending direct mail will deliver these materials straight to their door. To make your school stand out from the other colleges in their mailbox, you have to produce creative, high-quality and long-lasting prints.
You school can also stand out by sending tailored messages to students based on their interests. If they’ve indicated an interest in business, send them more information about the programs in your business school; if they’re an out-of-state student, let them know about various groups they can join to make your college feel like home. This approach can solve issues involved with broadly messaging to a large group and show you understand your students’ individual needs.
Even if you believe your Gen Z prospects would prefer to find information online, their parents will appreciate flipping through a hard copy. You may even consider creating mailers specifically for parents to address their particular concerns. Not sure which creative touches to add or how to pick quality materials? You can browse our services for ideas, shoot us a message or consult your own local printer for help.
Recruiting Tip #4: Produce Engaging Content.
As we know, prospective students may be unable to travel to in-person tours and presentations on campus for months to come. In addition to direct mail, creating engaging and interactive content they can access anywhere will be critical. To reach students online, create videos that showcase your beautiful campus, show what a student’s day-to-day life is like and address frequently asked questions. You could even use video to give realistic tours of different buildings or areas of campus. Distribute these videos on your school’s social media pages, include them on your admissions webpage and even share them with high school counselors to reach potential new students through as many avenues as possible.
Recruiting Tip #5: Create Open Communication Channels.
Because there may be fewer opportunities for in-person meetings in the coming year, it’s important to keep other lines of communication open wherever possible. You know better than anyone that students and their parents will still have question after question, and they’ll remember the schools who go out of their way to help them in any way. To address these kinds of questions, some universities have started using live video on social to host Q&As. Others have organized Google Hangouts or opened their social media direct messages to provide more personalized help. When you can’t talk to your audience face-to-face, these methods can be pretty effective options that make an impression on students-to-be.