Welcome to 2018! Like many of you, I am starting this year filled with aspirations to eat healthier, bike farther, and, most importantly, do more for the students we all serve.
Planning for tomorrow invites reflection on yesterday, so I re-read every one of our Enrollment Blog's 2017 posts—all 37 of them.
My big takeaway: Today's students want and need to be at the center of our enrollment processes. To reach them, we have to think from students' perspectives and hone our campaigns, programs, and brands to align with them.
Here are some of the blogs that crystalized this insight for me. If you are looking for inspiration in the new year, consider checking them out.
Webconference January 25: What enrollment tactics worked in 2017—and which didn't
Emily Bauer's blog, What Gen Z wants from college search, in their own words, forecasts the demands of the upcoming crop of college students who, contrary to many stereotypes, are more pragmatic, self-aware, and socially responsible than the generations that came before them. Institutions' must communicate their own virtues to resonate with these students’ values.
Emily cautions us that getting these messages across is in itself a challenge because Gen Z students grew up in the digital era and have cultivated finely tuned filtering mechanisms. They know when they are being sold to and demand engaging, authentic, and highly personalized communication from colleges.
In Why do students decline their dream schools?, Peter Farrell reminds us "selling" a college tuition commitment is difficult because today’s students came of age during Great Recession and are extremely discerning consumers. They are more concerned about their return on education than ever before and many—from all income-levels—forego their first-choice schools because of cost.
But Peter details three tactics to help you mitigate admitted-student attrition. He encourages you to be completely transparent about the costs of college attendance and optimize your financial aid dollars to help as many students as possible. And you must communicate the long-term financial and intellectual value of a degree from your institution in all of your student outreach.
Pam Kieker Royall's blog, Are the students you want the students who want you?, also reminds us students have a consumer mindset and a range of educational opportunities. These new realities require schools to both understand their college-choice motivations and craft outreach to satisfy them.
You can begin to address this challenging task with knowledge of whether students interpret your institution’s unique assets and brand as you intend. Pam’s research demonstrates you must know if your messages are getting through, parses current students’ college-choice motivations across demographics, and invites you to partner with us to test the alignment of your prospects’ perceptions of your school with your intended messaging.
How to guarantee transfer students will reject you by Scott Booth provides a concrete example of a common failure to prioritize the experiences of capable, eager students. Too many schools simply haven’t taken steps to create a culture or enrollment process that is friendly to this increasingly-large prospective student population.
Scott suggests those of you who manage enrollment at four-year institutions need to partner with advisors at two-year colleges, establish transfer credit pathways, welcome transfer students to your campus for transfer-tailored visit days, and create webpages and applications that respond to the unique needs of transfer students.
I hope these posts will vitalize our readers in 2018. We can resolve to work together to understand the motivations, respond to the needs, and fulfill the dreams of today's prospective students—however discerning and pragmatic they may be.