This post is my sixth installment in the continuing story about my now 18 year old son. He is a very intelligent (top 10 in his class), high school graduate (rural area of upstate South Carolina) now a college freshman, college student athlete (baseball), social media lover, southern boy who loves to be outside in the woods, water and wild. I am a 40ish year old Dad of two boys, with a wife that still can hold her own even with 3 guys in the house! I have spent most of my working life in higher education enrollment, with a brief hiatus (5 years) into corporate world. Now my life consists of visiting and consulting with colleges and universities across the south. And in between, I get to sit behind the computer screen and try to keep up with what is happening with this younger generation.
Time to check the gauges!
It is that time of the year- putting spring enrollments in the rearview window and focus on the fall class 100%. In the winter, we focus on the numbers to see if we have what it is going to take with factors such as financial aid packages, other school’s offers and summer melt. What can you do now to affect your class? There is so much but you have to pay attention and make changes along the way. Little changes can add up to have big impacts. Today we have to be on target with everything. This blog focuses on low cost enrollment yield. I am going to share 4 ideas that I have seen work on campuses across the country and they could work on yours too.
1. Tie in social media to help: Push out countdown messaging to inform and create urgency. Always have a photo or an image to tie in the message. If it is time to send out your financial aid package, show an image of an assembly line.
2. Engage your campus community: Get your administration and faculty (Stars) involved in recruitment. Just a call, a personal email and/or a personally written note (they can tell the difference) goes a long way with a prospect—everyone wants to feel wanted. Teach your community, tool them, measure them, and give them feedback. This can be a rifle approach not a shot gun!
3. Go see your students: Plan get together at the local yogurt place for your prospects/applicants, offer incentives to bring their friends that may be interested. This is low cost and creates a great impression. Take pictures, tag, follow, post use this social media opportunity to share your school in that area.
4. Hard Stuff: Engage your recruitment team to get specific. They have to know who is in their funnel, especially the 1st Gen. Leverage every admissions step for students. Visit- give them a reason to come or come back again. Fin Aid- engage parents and students alike- $$ are not unlimited. Residence Halls share countdowns on available beds, same for parking places, even at big schools students love their tickets to games, leverage the distribution. Create these incentives to move them through the process. Make sure to have some fun along the way too. Give things away and show through pictures who the winners, we sometimes forget to do this.
Time for Orientation—Fall is always better.
In my blog posts I have always shared a personal account of my oldest son’s trek to college. Well it has been interesting. I am happy to share that my son is now in the midst of classes at his chosen college here close to home. He is happy and busy with spring semester start up and baseball (his other job). I will tell you measurement and evaluation is key to keeping students and parents satisfied. So many times spring orientation is over looked and not done well. I would encourage you to look at this process, visit other colleges that do it well and measure your college against others. Ask for evaluations from parents and students. If you are doing something that could be better – be prepared. We can always do better. This is a critical and stressful time for both parents and students (even for me) and the student can always bail at orientation or just afterwards. Happy spring semester, May will be here soon!