New York University (NYU) was already well-positioned to respond when COVID-19 hit, thanks to its robust and responsive strategic enrollment management (SEM) culture.
“The beauty of SEM practitioners is that we are strategists, which makes us well-positioned to see what’s happening and make changes,” said MJ Knoll-Finn, Senior Vice President for Enrollment Management & Student Success. “With
SEM we are data-driven, we have structure and process in place to galvanize changes, and we keep our focus on students.”
Combined with the innovative culture, diverse talent, and considerable resources of NYU, that SEM foundation allowed the institution to make immediate and effective decisions to ensure continuity of education and ongoing effective recruitment efforts,
even as the pandemic shut down campuses in Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, and New York.
“Being a global university has always come with a shared responsibility of the students, families, and communities where you are. So, right away in March we formed a group to align communication across all campuses,” Knoll-Finn said. “Not
only did we have to figure out how to serve current students across multiple locations, but we had to shift our recruitment efforts. We needed to create
content and make it accessible in a virtual space, across time zones.”
“We couldn’t just recreate our in-person cultural events online,” added Joey Schmit, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Marketing. “We needed to find a way to get students excited about a campus that they can’t actually
To that end, NYU developed a strategy not only to reach candidates but also get to know them, in order to carry out their holistic admissions process.
Here are a few key takeaways from that endeavor:
1. When authenticity is more important than perfection, go live. “When you want students to feel part of a community, authenticity matters, particularly with Gen Z” said Knoll Finn.
For example, students had synchronous opportunities, scheduled appropriately for their time zones, to engage with admissions counselors and student life representatives, as well as current and prospective students.
2. Share stories asynchronously. When you are telling a curated story, such as showcasing the city or other documentary-style content, asynchronous delivery works well.
“Our data shows, based on engagements, comments, and questions, that what students responded to most were those authentic moments,” Knoll-Finn said. “The key is that what you say in the curated environment has to be backed up by the
3. Keep your fingers on the pulse. Survey students to learn what they need, then give it to them. As with all SEM processes, data matters. Ask students what they attended and what they learned, then use that information to provide relevant resources
via the appropriate channels.
According to Knoll-Finn, the results of the recruitment events spoke for themselves. They produced a higher yield than any comparable recruitment event for which NYU has data.
Learn more at Knoll-Finn's session "What Does it Mean Now to Be a Global University?" at the AACRAO SEM Conference. Register now.