The competition for students in higher education is fierce, and it will get even fiercer due to the birth dearth from the 2008 recession. The sharp decline in births that year has translated to fewer high school students graduating and attending college, leading to challenges for the college recruiter profession.
With an ever-smaller applicant pool, it’s imperative to expand your recruitment efforts to reach more potential students. One way to do this is to leverage burgeoning technology strategies. Here are four college recruitment strategies that can help you beat the birth dearth and recruit students who will flourish at your university.
- Generate Leads Strategically
Colleges see more applications, higher enrollment numbers, and higher retention rates when they engage students who are the right fit. But how can you determine which students will fit best at your college?
Historically, colleges and universities have relied on purchasing lists of student data, sold at cost per name, from the SAT and ACT to drive their recruitment efforts. However, this data is limited to basic information like test scores, high school, and street address. If only they allowed you to select more granular student attributes to assist with your college recruitment strategies! Or, even better: if they let the students tell you exactly what they want.
This last option is not a pipe dream; College Matchmaking™ has made it a reality. College Matchmaking™ is a flat-priced, student-driven solution that not only provides an alternative to SAT/ACT name-buys but eliminates the accompanying practice of blindly guessing at which student demographics to purchase.
Here’s how it works: both colleges and students complete a matchmaking questionnaire. The system then matches college attributes with students’ interests in five key areas: campus size, campus setting, areas of study, institution type, and geographic region. Instead of simply buying a list of leads based on demographic data, colleges get leads that show the preferences of potential applicants in real-time. Colleges who subscribe can then pay a flat price for the names of students who have already declared their institution to be a good fit, providing a much more qualified list of student candidates.
- Lean into Virtual College Fairs
In addition to generating more promising leads, another part of beating birth dearth requires recruiting underrepresented populations like international students or first-generation college students. These larger applicant pools are not always easily reached with traditional in-person recruiting efforts. In this case, a virtual college fair is the way to go.
Virtual college fairs are often extremely cost-effective, allow you to reach a broader geographic footprint, and generate more leads and greater discoverability of your college. One virtual college fair platform, GoToCollegeFairs, is reporting over 500 student leads on average per college at their virtual college fair experiences.
To help you maximize your return at virtual college fairs, GoToCollegeFairs provides a custom-built virtual college fair platform that mimics the in-person experience, while adding resources and capabilities that are missing from a traditional college fair. When students enter the virtual lobby, they can use customized filters to identify participating colleges, presentations, and education sessions that interest them most.
Once they hit the exhibition floor, they can bookmark and engage with select colleges in one-on-one or group formats, watch videos, and even apply on the spot. And just like the in-person fairs which use the GoToCollegeFairs system, every student’s activity and preferences expressed before, during, and after the virtual fair are tracked and analyzed to support your follow-up recruiting efforts.
- Embrace Mobile Recruitment
To recruit the top candidates and meet college enrollment goals, schools need to engage today’s tech-savvy students on a more personal level across a variety of platforms, particularly via mobile and social media. Going mobile can help you reach out to students worldwide with just a click of a button, highlighting your school’s brand and offerings on a regular basis. But don’t rely on a single touchpoint; consider reaching out to potential students using email, text messaging, and phone calls to keep everyone informed.
A mobile app containing all the information a potential applicant needs to know can also be useful, and many are available. Prospective students can download the app and learn about the upcoming online and in-person recruiting events. The app can then be carried over to support students once they are enrolled to ease the transition to college life and aid in student retention. By embracing mobile, you’re interacting with students where they are: on their phones!
- Use AI in the College Recruitment Process
With college recruiting continually expanding, it’s time to automate some of the more traditional practices. One automation tool is an online chatbot equipped with sophisticated natural language processing (NLP) that can help provide answers to prospective students looking through a college’s website. A chatbot’s 24/7 availability provides greater convenience for students and families who are unable to call during business hours and reduces the time spent by staff answering admissions inquiries.
Through machine learning, these chatbots can even adapt to create a personalized and supportive environment as they field students’ questions and concerns. Other tools, such as CRM systems, can help to automate manual administrative tasks, improving speed and accuracy and enabling admissions personnel to spend more time engaging students and parents.
New technologies can seem daunting, but if you’re going to triumph over birth dearth, they’re necessary to expand your modes and methods of recruiting. With these four strategies, you have the potential to maximize your reach in the search for students who will thrive best at your college.