When recruitment season rolls around again, you'll want to know how to attract students to your university. You'll be looking to decipher what makes students choose your school over another and what constitute the . At a time when general interest in higher education seems to be waning slowly, it is important to keep in mind what may be appealing to a new generation of potential matriculants. Developing your university’s values, online presence, and top-quality learning is a never-ending process that needs constant updating to remain relevant.
This article will focus on what it means to have a decline in student enrollment in recent years and the variety of measures schools could take to attract potential newcomers to their campuses, as well as the benefits of when it comes to student recruitment.
Technically, yes. Estimates show that student enrollment is in recent terms, with undergraduate enrollments decreasing by about 4.1% from spring 2021 to spring 2022. There could be multiple reasons for this, such as more opportunities for people to create careers for themselves online without a degree, dire global circumstances, financial instability, and a lower perceived value of higher education. The world around us is constantly changing, and as a result, so is the higher education landscape. While these studies are not a death sentence for higher education by any means, especially for competitive programs, colleges and universities must continue to adapt to the evolving industry, just like any other organization.
The process all starts with student recruitment. Constantly improving your school’s features and advertising them as much as possible will be your best shot at survival. Examine the techniques you are currently using and see if they need updating. Implementing some will definitely put your school on the right track to supersede this phenomenon. Attracting the right number and the right quality of students by providing them with the best service is a worthwhile strategy for possibly changing these statistics. When potential students see a place worth studying at to achieve their goals, they will be more inclined to enroll.
There are a multitude of practical ways to have more eyes on your school and increase enrollment. A helpful tip is to put yourself in students’ shoes and ask yourself what they would want to see when looking for somewhere to pursue higher education. With this in mind, here is a summative overview of recruitment strategies that are sure to attract students:
Tell the Story of Your Institution
To attract potential students, it is important to tell the story of your institution in a unique fashion. People love stories, and every school has one. What is a cool way to illustrate that history in a way that younger generations will understand and be interested by? Does your story show students why your school is the best option for them? What makes it stand out? These are all questions to keep in mind when telling your story. Conveying this information regarding how your university came to be and what it is accomplishing now is a simple way to immediately connect with potential students. Show incoming students what your values are and the biggest educational strengths you have to offer. You are essentially marketing your university, so putting a creative spin on what may be considered matter-of-fact information could be a fun way to enroll some new students.
Maintain In-person Recruitment Events
Do not take in-person recruitment events for granted. They are extremely useful when showcasing what your university has to offer. While there are incredibly productive ways to attract students online that will be covered later in this blog, a human-to-human connection will never lose its appeal for higher education. When learning about where they should go to school, students really do enjoy having someone in front of them to answer their most pressing questions. Having a booth at various recruitment events, visiting high schools, or conducting an open house with campus tours will get the word out about your institution and show students what it will be like to study there. During these events, distribute printed materials such as brochures or handouts. These materials can act as a constant reminder of your school’s greatest assets.
Enhance Your School’s Visual Appearance
Making your campus look great may be an obvious tip, but sometimes a school’s visual appearance could make or break a potential student’s interest. If you are having a planned visit or open house event to advertise your state-of-the-art academic programs, there needs to be something to see as well. Some could be travelling miles to step foot in your university, so everything should be in tip-top shape when they arrive to avoid disappointment. Students may be enrolled in your school for up to four years, sometimes longer, so the vision of experiencing an aesthetically pleasing campus while they study surely will not hurt their chances of choosing your university. Incorporating intricate art pieces, such as paintings and sculptures, plants, and lounge areas with modern furniture could liven up your campus and make it more appealing to potential matriculants.
Create an Informative Website
If your campus is great to look at in person, what about promoting it further online? Most young people today will find out about your university’s services by researching it on the web. Much of the recruitment process is now completely possible using internet capabilities; it is also one of the most efficient . Therefore, similarly to how the various buildings of your campus need to look pristine, so do your associated web pages. One of the most important keys to your success will be the school’s website, which should be evaluated and updated often. The goal is to make the site easy to navigate, have a modern feel, and display honest information about your school. Website features should be true to life and correct, rather than too much of an embellishment. Having blogs or email newsletters that detail various features of your school will be informative for prospective students and link them to other university resources. Using marketing tactics, such as SEO optimization, on these pages will allow for more opportunity to be seen in searches and traffic to your website.
Establish an Online Presence
Having social media platforms that appeal to younger users are crucial to your university’s online presence. Social media is a significant operator in marketing these days, so it is imperative that your university be on the ball with its posts. When used strategically, the major social media platforms can be essential to your outreach, . Memorable and entertaining material on your university’s profile will stick with students looking for colleges and universities to apply to. You can create posts or videos about pertinent information that may also be on the website, but that is in a more accessible format here. In contrast to the website, social media produces instant results and viewership within minutes of a post. Potential students can learn about recruitment events or find themselves captivated by clips of activities on campus.
Promote Your Online Reviews
When making an important decision, like deciding on a college or university, people are consulting online reviews more than ever. Having student ambassadors who are currently enrolled in your university to promote services, programs, or extracurricular activities is a really beneficial strategy for attracting future students. They are essentially putting their stamp of approval on your school for others to see. University employees may make excellent content for new recruits but learning about peers’ perspectives on your school and why they chose you will make potential students more likely to follow suit. Coming specifically from students at your university, such statements provide reassurance to those still on the fence about attending your school. Of course, there can be students with prepared testimonials present during in-person open houses or other events but displaying this content on social media and your website will have a widespread impact that will resonate with more viewers.
Improve Campus Accessibility
As a university looking to attract more students, your goal is for students’ learning to be as accessible as possible and to show that at every opportunity. Offering the option of online courses or entire programs may open your school up to a new audience that could not enroll earlier, whether they be international students or those with disabilities. Make sure it is easy to get around your campus, using ramps and elevators and fewer stairs wherever needed for those with mobility issues. It is also important to think about whether it would be possible for a blind or deaf person to maneuver and study at your institution. Your school should be a kind, welcoming space for anyone who wishes to enroll. Students with disabilities deserve to access learning in an environment that includes them. Providing these accessibility features will make your university more appealing to them, given the unfortunate reality that not every school will take their needs into account.
In terms of keeping up with the times, staying up to date with the latest inventions or research is a common selling point universities like to use during recruitment season. For instance, technology has been used to enhance learning for decades now and it will not be stopping anytime soon. Education in schools from elementary to college is an ever-evolving facet of our lives and the way we approach it must constantly adapt to new developments, such as tech. When they are pursuing higher education, students typically want to experience a kind of learning that they cannot get just anywhere or find online. It may make a world of difference for both students and professors to be in the know with newer technologies to immerse them in the classroom. Incorporating the latest technological innovations into your courses or campus will keep your university current, and it will be more attractive to students as a result.
Provide Financial Support
Financial aid is one of the most important support systems to use among the ; so many students drop out because they can no longer afford their fees or cannot handle the stress of working as they study. However, supporting students financially could also be used as a tool to attract students to your university. There will be many who want to apply to your university but cannot or will be discouraged to do so based on their financial situations. Implementing accommodative scholarships, bursaries, or other assistance programs could change someone’s life by allowing them the chance to further their education. If there are several financial support options available, students from underprivileged backgrounds will be way more interested in attending your school. If there is less of a budget for these kinds of scholarships, use your vast university community to plan fundraisers or donate to this worthy cause. There is no student who does not appreciate being supported by their university. The effort to show that everyone deserves a chance to grow and pursue an education will be rewarded by high-quality applicants.
Offer Life Skills Courses
An interesting way to make your university stand out to students would be to provide courses that teach real life skills, whether for credit or not, that are useful to everyone. Most students will be away from home for the first time and may not have all the skills they need to take care of themselves and function in their surroundings. Courses about financial planning or budgeting, home economics, cooking, sewing, car ownership, and more would appeal to younger students who are making that transition into adulthood, especially if these electives could count toward their degree. They could be held alongside courses for academic and professional matters as well, such as public speaking, writing and communication classes, , and . Universities should aim to produce great academics with top-quality education, as they always have, but also functional humans living in society. These courses could be a step in that direction that also attracts new students.
When recruiting, it is also important to look beyond the undergraduate level. You can employ many of the or prepare your undergraduates for graduate studies as much as possible, should they need it. It is never too early to set students up with the tools to succeed in these areas. Always think of the future of the students in your institution, no matter what path they take.
There will be students who do not continue on to graduate school after their bachelor’s degrees, but some may be more inclined to if they have the right support. Many applications for post-graduate programs, such as , have a lot of moving parts and can overwhelm students who are not prepared for them. Starting early and getting access to help from admissions experts will give students the support they need when applying to highly competitive programs.
Allowing your students this luxury by partnering externally with services such as could be a selling point for students who wish to pursue any form of graduate school in the future. Providing free or discounted access to academic consulting services to help them with making connections, writing a , preparing for interviews, building a , and more could solidify a student’s choice of your school.
There is always something to work on when it comes to updating your outreach to attract potential new students to your university. At today’s pace of change, things could be different next year. When your target audience is a younger population, it is important to be aware of what these groups are interested in and apply that to your strategy for a successful recruitment season. Seek feedback from students and applicants and adjust your tactics accordingly. Then, make sure to learn to keep your students satisfied through the formative years they spend with you. After all, attracting students to your campus is only the beginning of their journey in higher education.
1. How can I start to implement new recruitment strategies?
A good way to start is to look at what is missing from recruitment practices at your school. Are you lacking an online or social media presence? Focus on developing those and learn the best tricks for virtual recruitment methods. Are your campus buildings a little run down? Put the effort into spicing them up and making them more appealing to students and parents.
Put yourself in the position of the students considering your school. Anticipate what students’ needs will be and plan how you will address them. Then, develop effective ways to market your ideas to them when recruiting. Poll current students about their primary concerns and what could have been different when they were gaining interest in attending your university.
2. Should I update my current recruitment strategy?
Generally, it should always be top of mind, but it depends on whether targets are being hit and how many students are being enrolled each term or year at your school. It is important to be constantly thinking about how to improve or update your current recruitment methods.
There is likely an area that could be focused on that could distinguish your school from others and become more appealing to incoming students as a result. If your strategy stays the same for too long, it may become stale, which will show in the statistics.
3. Are online or in-person strategies more effective in attracting students to my university?
A healthy balance of both is definitely the best option. Successful schools will have as many opportunities as possible for recruitment out there to maximize their chances of being seen. Each method has its strengths and weaknesses. There are certain qualities of open houses or face-to-face recruitment that could never be replicated online. However, in today’s digital age, social media marketing is extremely important for any organization, including higher education. Through online measures, you can reach potential students with just a post or a click, opening up your school to a wider audience overall.
4. Why are student ambassadors important?
Student ambassadors are essentially peers that prospective students will pay attention to because they can relate to them. A good student ambassador will be a current student at your university or a recent alumnus who represents your school’s brand, mission, or a particular program and department. They can reach new students through videos, blogs, social media posts, and more.
5. When incorporating new recruitment strategies, do I need to lose the traditions that make my school special?
Not necessarily, no. You can still incorporate tradition into your recruitment strategies, but it’s just as important to think about what students want to see and how to modernize your process. Instead of throwing away tradition, it’s about highlighting what makes your school unique and why people would want to study there. Perhaps the various traditions of your university could actually be a selling point for incoming students.
6. What are some ways to increase traffic on my school’s website?
Updating its appearance is typically a good place to start but using online marketing techniques such as SEO and posting more often are also effective. Having a blog, forum, or some other page that gives more opportunity for people to come across your site will also be helpful.
7. What are some perks we could offer students when recruiting?
Think beyond their time at your university and offer what you can to aid them with their lives or futures. Internship or co-op programs are a great way to have students receive some professional experience while they study with you. Having a dedicated team of academic advisors or career planners could be an incentive for students who need the extra support as they progress through their degree. If your school is targeted toward specific disciplines, such as business, for example, allow for incentives that will benefit business students the most, such as or .
8. How can academic consulting be a recruitment strategy?
Students often come in the door to a college or university having an idea about what their path is, especially if they plan to attend graduate school, medical school, or some other competitive field. Offering academic consulting services to those in the process of completing their degrees will set them on the right path and get them started on their applications early to increase their chances of acceptance. For instance, those interested in medical school would love to hear about or opportunities you have to offer. It will also relieve a lot of stress knowing that these services are offered within your university from the minute they start, and these extra benefits could entice them to join your school over another.