As new college and university students from fall 2015 settle into their classes, student recruitment offices have already shifted their efforts to recruiting the fall 2016 class. To help with these recruitment efforts, I annually highlight the fantastic e-Expectations report that Noel Levitz has conducted for the past ten years (by the way, Noel Levitz is now called Ruffalo Cody).
This research project examines the expectations of college-bound high school students as well as how their expectations have changed. While a full read of the report is highly advisable (you can access it by clicking the graphic to your right), today’s blog provides a quick list of ten insights which should influence your recruitment efforts in the year ahead.
- Your college website is your most valuable recruitment tool. When prospective students need answers to their questions 71% of high school seniors go to your web site (and 58% of juniors). The next most important ways they gets answers are by emailing or calling you and contacting their High School counselor. Together, the non-website categories add up to 35% which highlights the paramount importance of your web site!
- Your website is also your most valuable advertisement! While we tend to think of advertising as something we pay for, I encourage you to think of your web site as your most effective ad. Are you investing in the resource appropriately?
3. The value of print materials is declining and is being replaced by…..your website! Students want more information on the web and less information by mail.
4. About 7 of 10 high school students search for colleges on their mobile devices. Is your web site built for mobile? If not, your web site experience is likely frustrating for your potential students!
5. Search engines are your best friend. About 85% of students find college web sites by using search engines. Is your website search engine friendly?
6. Programs matter most! You must prioritize your web site content based on what students want to know! The chart below reveals what is important!
7. You must clearly communicate the value of a degree. To today’s students (and their parents!), a bachelor’s degree is an investment. You need to prove it!
8. Colleges must become social media friendly to get students attention! The top five social media channels juniors and seniors use (in descending order) are YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter. Snapchat and Twitter use is increasing when compared to previous years while Facebook use is decreasing
9. Text messaging is acceptable! A sales text messages on my phone isn’t OK but it is on my kids phones!
10. Conversations count! While marketing reinforces your key messages, it is conversations that really impact your audience. Which areas of your campus are engaged in these conversations?
Twenty-five years ago I sat behind a table welcoming freshman and their parents to my college. At that time we did not have a web site, Facebook was not invented and we were impressed by cell phones that were the size of a brick! However, in a mere quarter-century it is these relatively new tools that dominate the student recruitment landscape. Imagine what it will look like in the next 25 years!
I wish you every success in your recruitment efforts this year!
Dr. Jeff Suderman is a lifelong learner, consultant, professor and pracademic who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman
Ruffalo Cody (2015). 2015 E-Expectations Report: The Online Preferences of College-Bound Seniors and Their Parents. Available at https://www.ruffalonl.com/papers-research-higher-education-fundraising/2015/2015-e-expectations-report