Report: Admissions officers may need to mix up marketing efforts

'It's more important than ever to question assumptions'

College admissions officers don't know teenagers as well as they think they do, at least according to a new report.

The findings come from a study on recruiting tactics conducted by Gil Rogers, director of marketing and enrollment at Chegg, and Michael Stoner, president and co-founder of mStoner. They examined responses from two surveys composed of parallel questions: one for teenagers and another for admissions officers.

"It's more important than ever to question assumptions about what teens do and don't do, prefer, and dislike, when it comes to their college-search and -choice process," Rogers and Stoner write in the paper.

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They found that while 71% of admissions officers said their conversations with potential applicants were important in teens' decisions of where to apply, just 37% of students agreed.

"It's not that teens totally discount what admission officers say," Rogers and Stoner write. "But there are other information sources that are much more important to them."

Teens say print is actually the best way to get their attention, both for schools they know about and ones they don't. However, 25% of students did report never actually opening mail from schools.

And just 4% of students said social media is an effective way for colleges they hadn't heard of to engage them—meanwhile 30% of admissions officials thought it was.

Colleges courting potential students post-admission

While students are indeed on social media for much of their day, they prefer to initiate contact themselves instead of receiving unsolicited messages, according to the paper. "So if they reach out to you, follow their lead—if they text you, you can text them back; if they contact you on instant messaging, you can IM them back."

Additionally, the best platform to reach students on varies along the application timeline. Seventy percent of students say they use a college's website when looking for places to apply, but only 30% looked at the website after being accepted. And 35% of teenagers said they used social media to look at schools before applying, while just 18% reporting doing so after being admitted (Hoover, Chronicle of Higher Education, 12/3).

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