Finding best-fit students

November 5, 2019
  • Admissions and Recruitment
  • Competencies
  • Enrollment Goals
  • Enrollment Management
  • Enrollment Mix
  • Leadership and Management
  • Meetings, Workshops, and Trainings
  • SEM Conference
  • Student Recruitment
two females speaking from a podium

As the market for traditional students diminishes, colleges and universities are facing increased competition for students. What’s your institution doing to make an impression on prospective students and how are you targeting your search to be truly effective? 

In their session, 5 Keys to a Successful Search Program, Cindy Cammack of Peru State College and Jennifer Crump of Central Methodist University presented strategies for improving response rates from students targeted in their searches. 


The presenters began the presentation with challenges that many institutions face when attempting to find and reach students. First and foremost, schools must stay up-to-date with rapidly changing technology in order to capture the attention of students. In addition, students are inundated with marketing materials—and they expect personalization and immediate response. To respond effectively, you need to clearly communicate who you are, what you stand for, and what value you provide—and to maintain that consistency and brand identity in all of your communications.  

The Five Keys to Success

The presenters listed five ways that schools can reconsider their marketing and recruitment processes by transforming their student search strategies:

1. Plan Your Work; Work Your Plan

One of the first things to do is make a plan and set goals, and consider items such as historical data, target audience, how many searches to do, and expected response rate.

2. Use Print

Supplementing email communications with printed items can increase the open rate by 37%, the click-thru rate by 14%, and generate a 98% increase in traffic after receiving a postcard.* 

3. Digital Advertising

Students operate in a digital world and are increasingly online, using search engines to find schools and researching and engaging with institutions on social media. The presenters found that when digital materials are added to a traditional search campaign, the response rate doubled.

4. Have an Immediate and Relevant Response Plan

This generation of students expects immediacy in its interactions, and a significant percentage of students enrolls at the school that makes first contact. Don’t keep students waiting and be sure to respond with personalized, relevant content—basically send the right message at the right time.

5. Automate Search and Response through One Platform

It’s important to develop holistic marketing and communications that are integrated and strategic. Examples of a multi-channel approach include: viewbook, email, visits, phone calls, text, social networks—all of which lead to deposit and enrollment. 

By recognizing and addressing challenges, your institution can utilize these strategies to develop and implement your own successful search processes and materials.

*According to data from Liaison


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