Don’t Have a Meltdown! Understanding Summer Melt and How to Fight It

May 1st has come and gone, and college recruiters are now turning their attention to the dreaded phenomenon known as ‘Summer Melt.’ Here are a few facts and takeaways to help you prepare for (and reduce) melt for your incoming fall class.

How do you rank?

Although summer melt rates fluctuate from year to year, we find that our partner institutions experience melt as low as 5% and as high as 30%, depending on the institution’s student body and financial requirements.

What are your primary predictors?

While there are many reasons, here are the primary factors for melt this year that we’re seeing:

  • Affordability: Students struggle with finding additional sources of financial assistance, securing loans, and often don’t reach out to the institution for help or don’t know how.
  • Safety: Students often experience anxiety – the fear of being away from home, making new friends, and facing new experiences.
  • Diversity: (Or lack thereof) Students may not perceive that they fit in with a particular institution.
  • Barriers to information: Students may struggle with completing college registration forms, making housing decisions and registering for orientation programs. This could be a particular issue for first-gen students, where the parents themselves may also lack information and not know about resources available to assist them.
  • Second choice: When students are removed from a waitlist they often will decide to attend their first choice school and forfeit their deposit or other commitment to attend their second choice school.

What your top strategies for preventing melt?

The goal of an anti-melt campaign is to make the individual student want to attend one particular school to which they have made a commitment more than any other school to which they have also committed (deposit or otherwise).

  • Offer ways to connect with students on a personal level, letting them know they are wanted and already a part of the community. For example, offer students a discount at the bookstore to purchase their very first piece of spirit-wear so they feel invested in the brand.
  • Take the time between making a deposit and enrolling in classes to learn more about that specific student, engaging them in online with personality and interest surveys.
  • Send a newsletter to parents and students to keep them apprised of what is going on at your institution in the spring and summer months. Who is your commencement speaker? What new internships are you offering, what are your current students planning for the summer?
  • Leverage social media channels with informal invitations and posts.
  • Engage students online by encouraging them to post photos from their summer life. It is essential to connect with students starting June through August, showing them what you can do together can’t happen anywhere else. Create an exclusive relationship.

What are you doing differently from prior years, or different from other institutions?

  • From a marketing perspective, create content that is authentic.  An example would be student ambassador-made videos/ social media vs hiring professionals.
  • Put less emphasis on National Decision Day, and more emphasis on individuals to help students find the institution that is the right fit for them, and why. Personalization is key.
  • Focus on financial resources and ways to reduce debt.
  • Make every effort to stay connected throughout the summer.
  • Students who decide to attend your institution expect to be in constant communication. At this stage, they welcome calls, emails, and text.

Summer melt can be stressful, so remember to keep your cool! Treat your incoming class like family and continue to remind each student that they are a valued new member of your campus community. At TWG Plus, we know the benefit of establishing a personalized, one-to-one connection with each student. Ask us how we can customize an anti-melt plan for your institution!

Focus Your Search: A Guide to List Buying

With tight budgets and increasing goals, searching for the right students can often seem like an uphill battle. You know you should purchase a list, but where do you start, and how do you narrow down your options? We’ve put together a list of concerns you may have, to help focus your search efforts.

Geography: Before buying all names in your state, consider your past enrollment data. What zip codes yielded actual enrolled students? Start your marketing efforts there.

Feeder Schools: What high schools have historically contributed to your incoming classes? Start with these in your buy and begin visiting them.

Score Ranges: What is your sweet spot in terms of score ranges, both for the SAT and ACTs? Start with a wide range of students that live close to your campus. The further away from campus you look for prospective students, the narrower the range of test scores should be.

Special Preferences: Consider your brand, your achievements, and your history. Does this appeal to a particular type of student?

Denominations or Religious Beliefs: On this topic, is your school a secular institution, or are denominational services part of your curriculum? Students who have expressed interest in a similar lifestyle are often a good fit.

Majors Preferences: When pushing a specific college, program or strength your school may hold, it is important to market to students who are also interested in that specific area of study- especially if those students will have to travel to visit you.

Extracurriculars: You may want to push enrollment to students who engaged in specific extracurricular activities. For instance, a religious university may want to designate ‘1 year of activity in a religious organization’. Other examples might include ecology and conservation, equestrian arts, worship and ministry, aviation, student government, or many others.

Athletics: If you’ve got a strong athletic program or you’ve recently started competing in a specific sport, it makes sense to search for prospective students who have also competed in, or would like to compete in that sport.

Alumni: Friends and family are your biggest proponents. Leverage that free marketing by identifying the purchased prospects who share a last name and address with alumni. We call it legacy matching!

Transfer students: Transfer students are often an untapped resource. Purchasing a list of ready-to-transfer students provides a unique cross-section of prospects that are most certainly going to transfer to a four-year university. While it is expensive, it may be your best resource.

In all your list buying and search efforts, research and discovery are key. Knowing where you’ve been, how you’ve historically performed, and who the “likely to enroll” prospects are, is vital to unlocking your prospects. Don’t be intimidated by the entire list buying and search process. Taking it one step at a time will get the job done, and TWG Plus is here to help. Reach out to us anytime to discuss how we can offer assistance, or even create a custom list purchase for you!

Donor Appreciation Season

‘Tis the season for giving! Gifts of time, talent and treasure are precious, and this time of year provides a great opportunity to recognize those who give back to your institution. We’ve assembled some of our favorite ways to say ‘Thank you’ to your donors- some of the most important people in your campus community.

‘Thank You’ cards written by students.
One of the easiest and most elegant ways to say thanks is with a handwritten note, particularly one written by someone who benefitted directly from that gift: a student. Make a practice of sending a handwritten thank you following each donation, and your institution will earn a well-deserved reputation for good manners and gratitude.

Donor appreciation garden.
Dedicate a space on campus and cultivate a beautiful garden in recognition of your donors. Your campus will benefit from the aesthetic, and donors will appreciate a living tribute to their generosity.

Unique campus art.
Your donors give because they love your institution. Thank them with a gift that will be close to their hearts. Commission an artistic image of the entire campus, your flagship building or a special campus location. Whether it is a rare aerial shot, a drawing, photograph or other rendering- create a numbered, limited edition print to send to donors to let them keep a little piece of campus at home.

Personalized ‘Thank You’ video.
Time to get creative and have a little fun! Create a personalized video that can be emailed to your donors. It’s a fun way to showcase your institution’s personality and keep your donors engaged.

Year-in-review piece.
Design a sophisticated publication depicting and describing the ways in which donations have benefitted your institution that year. This piece can be printed or digital (or better yet, both!). Include images of improvements, additions, and student groups who have been impacted to show your biggest fans that their donations have been put to great use.

Invitation for a VIP tour of campus.
Remind your donors that they are always welcome on campus. Encourage them to visit and offer a literal trip down memory lane with a tour designed just for them. Hosted by specially trained student ambassadors, the tour should focus on historical areas of campus, discuss updates and renovations, and include a commemorative photo at the donor appreciation garden (see above!).

Call!
Engage your students to call donors just to say thank you. A thank you call without a solicitation is a wonderful way for donors to feel connected. The opportunity to speak with a current student will give your donors a unique perspective of student life, and will help them to know that their gift has made an impact on a personal level.

Showcase your talent.
Utilize your campus music groups to record a nostalgia-inducing rendition of your alma mater or fight song! Send your donors a link for a digital download for a one-of-a-kind thank you they can add to their favorite playlists.

Whatever method you choose, just remember to always say thank you. A feeling of gratitude from your students, faculty, staff and administration goes a long way in making your donors feel special and appreciated. For more creative higher education marketing ideas, or help on any of the above, be sure to contact TWG Plus for a custom-designed solution to fit your needs.

Sweet Tidbits from NACAC 2017

It’s that time of year again when we are reminded to be grateful for all the things we have. For the team at TWG Plus, it has been a tremendous year of change and growth, and we are truly thankful. We attended numerous conferences and were able to foster wonderful new relationships. We’re most thankful for what our colleagues in the higher education industry taught us this year.

While exhibiting at the 2017 National Association for College Admission Counseling Conference in Boston, we posed two questions to our booth visitors:

1. If money were no object, what would you do to increase your enrollment?

2. What do you wish your administration understood about your enrollment challenges?

Both questions sparked great conversations and identified pain points that most enrollment professionals encounter regularly. In this blog, we bring together the recurring themes that emerged during these conversations. We learned quite a bit, and we hope you find comfort knowing that many admissions offices face similar struggles and challenges.

If money were no object …

53% Would provide free tuition and/or full scholarships

In a perfect world, we believe this would be everyone’s intention, but we all know it takes a lot to run a college or university. Although offering full rides may not be realistic, there are many innovative ways to get the word out to your prospects about your institution’s scholarship opportunities. It may not be free tuition, but it is money toward their future! Ask us about ways we can help.

• A customized scholarship calculator can help your prospective students understand the amount of aid they might receive from your institution.

• On-campus financial aid workshops help parents understand the FAFSA process and maximize their aid.

 

16% Would drastically increase high-school visits

Juggling limited budgets and the need for more students can be quite a challenge. By this point, you’ve likely determined your feeder schools and know they’re the priority to visit in that area. However, there are ways to maximize your time and exposure in an area without having to spend hours at a college fair where you may or may not engage with students.

• Utilize your alumni network to have some additional feet on the ground. Your alums are proud of your institution – ask them to help you showcase it by representing you at college fairs near their homes or by being available to speak with prospective students about their experience.

• Bring your campus to your prospective students through targeted social media campaigns. Ask your current students to photograph their experience from their own perspective. Create a custom hashtag to allow them to participate in the conversation and give prospective students an inside look at student life.

 

16% Would improve student services and facilities

Don’t forget – not only will you be providing an education to your prospective students, you will also provide a new community and home for the next few years. How is your institution promoting on-campus resources to help students succeed? What programs and facilities are unique to your institution? How will students feel supported and connected throughout their educational experience?

• Leverage your current students! It’s incredible what some innovative minds can do with a small dorm room. Ask those students for their tried-and-true tips for decorating their dorms and maximizing space. Allow them to lead an on-campus workshop or share their advice on your social media channels or blog. A little creative design can go a long way toward making an aging dorm feel like home.

• Engage your campus community to help beautify the campus. Invite students, faculty, staff, and friends to a day of service. Volunteers could assist with gardening, painting, redecorating, etc.

 

13% Would provide all-expenses-paid trips for prospects and their families to visit campus

It is always fun to dream, and in an ideal world this would be common practice. Even if this isn’t pragmatic, there are other ways you can engage families and provide a great experience for them without absorbing the cost.

Be a friendly face in the crowd. This isn’t news to anyone, but it’s surprising how many opportunities are missed by the admissions team, faculty, staff, and students to be a welcoming and engaging presence while students are on campus. Give them a feeling they won’t soon forget – that’s priceless!

Provide clear signage and directions. Feeling lost is stressful, and if this is your prospect’s first experience on campus, that could leave a negative first impression. Make their first encounters on campus as easy as possible: mark parking, have clear signage to direct students, create a welcome board to address them by name as they arrive in the admissions office, and have ambassadors greet and guide students throughout the day. This may incur a small fee for your office, but it’s well worth the investment for the prospective family to feel valued and at home on your campus.   Give them a reason to engage. Whether it’s personalized attention throughout the day, giveaways or a fun contest- create an experience they’ll be excited to share with their friends. Leave them feeling like a new member of your community by the end of their visit.

2% Would hire a full-service enrollment marketing partner

You’re expected to do it all: enroll a record-breaking class; work with athletics, financial aid, and student life; and recruit the type of students who will stay and ultimately graduate. Let’s be real, sometimes the expectations feel a bit unrealistic.

Partnering with professionals who can help with a comprehensive enrollment marketing approach can make all the difference. This offers your team the breathing room necessary to make personal connections with the best prospects for your institution.

 

If only your administration understood …

30% Admissions is a job unlike any other

You put in endless hours of work recruiting for your fall class. Then once the semester begins, you hit the road for travel season to recruit the next class. Meeting every enrollment benchmark that the administration wants is improbable, which sometimes leaves you questioning if it’s worth it. Oftentimes, you feel like you’re part therapist, part personal assistant, and part life coach!

While we can’t change your administration’s processes to recognize your hard work, know that we appreciate all you do to invest in the next generation!

 

22% This isn’t just business, it’s personal

We get it. You spend hours on end talking with students and their parents, and working on submitting documents. You know your students. They feel it, too, as you receive graduation invitations and thank you notes (with cookies!) from families that you’ve impacted. It’s a lot like a relationship. And if the student chooses another option it feels an awful lot like a break-up. The time invested makes this personal to you, as you see your students as real people, not just consumers. Other departments often just don’t understand all the work that goes into it.

Our team at TWG Plus recognizes your labor of love, because we share your passion for recruiting students. Whether you need a helping hand with your recruitment efforts or just a sympathetic ear to empathize with your road warrior stories, contact us! Educated marketing is our way of life.

 

19% We need to better understand our prospective students

Hitting admissions goals is difficult if you’re not entirely sure who your prospective students are. Where do they come from? Are there any historical trends? You’re expected to know the answers and increase enrollment numbers knowing your prospective student body may change from year to year.

Persona research or predictive modeling can help narrow down the student who is most likely to enroll in the university based on your institution’s enrollment data and trends. Helping your administration determine who the prospective student is to help them better understand, measure, and retain those students once enrolled and on campus.

 

 

15% The admissions office needs more resources

A recurring theme: you are stretched thin! And depending on your CRM capabilities, team, and time, you may or may not have the data to support your request for more budget. What if there were a team dedicated to tracking engagement through the funnel and providing a final report on the success of your campaign?

TWG Plus provides each client with an end-of-campaign report that analyzes campaign engagement and success so you can use that in your next administrative council or board meeting.

 

14% Students are overwhelmed and need help navigating admissions

Your prospective students are inundated with information, dates, websites, mailers and more.  When it comes to knowing what to do and when, they are simply overwhelmed.

TWG Plus can not only help you qualify your leads and help determine which are most likely to enroll- but can also tailor a communication flow to each student so they know what to do and when, for every step of the process from inquiry to applicant.  This sets the stage for you to step in- saving you time, energy, and budget (and making the process clean and efficient for the students).

The Top 10 Things to Do in Boston During NACAC

Top 10 Things To Do In Boston - NACAC 2017

NACAC is less than a month away, and many attendees are looking to take advantage of the location and get some sightseeing and entertainment in!  We’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 Things for you to do in Boston during NACAC Week.  Enjoy!

  1. Laugh Boston, a comedy club located right near the Convention Center is sure to lift your spirits!
    425 Summer Street, Boston, MA 02210
    (617) 725- 2844
  2. Enjoy the weather in the park at The Lawn on D, also located near the convention center.
    420 D Street, Boston, MA 02210
  3. Take in some history at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, a floating museum with live reenactments, exhibits, and a tea room.  Located a half mile from NACAC headquarters.
    306 Congress St., Boston, MA 02210
  4. America’s favorite past time!  Catch a Baseball game at historic Fenway Park.  Watch the Oakland A’s play the Red Sox on Wednesday, September 13th or Thursday, September 14th.
    4 Yawkey Way Ext, Boston, MA 02215.
    Visit www.mlb.com/redsox for tickets and scheduling information.
  5. Grab a local brew while you take a tour at Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall.
    306 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA 02210
  6. Have dinner on us!  Join the TWG Plus team at Faneuil Hall at 7pm on Friday, September 15th for delicious food and drinks at the Anthem Bar & Grill’s UP Bar.  RSVP here.
    101 South Market Street, Boston, MA 02109
  7. Admire the architecture. Grab a cab or take a nice walk to the Historic Old North Church.
    193 Salem Street, Boston, MA 02113
  8. Commune with the fishes. Visit the 75,000 square foot New England Aquarium on the harbor.
    1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110
  9. Get artsy at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where you’ll find collections from Ancient Egypt to Modern Contemporary pieces.
    465 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115
  10. Up for a little more history?  The Paul Revere House, opened in 1680, was one of the first historic house museums and contains exhibits and the story of the famed patriot’s ride.
    19 North Square, Boston, MA 02113
    (617) 523-2338