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 …
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 …
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!
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.
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.
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.
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).