Reimagining Engagement to Support Enrollment

May 16, 2022
  • Technology
  • corporate
  • Registration Technology
Young woman with laptop going to school.

Sponsored by Ellucian

Despite global disruptions throughout higher education in 2020, institutions retained the same mission as always: attract new students, effectively educate them, and inspire their ongoing support as alumni. However, student expectations continue to evolve, particularly as the higher education industry becomes increasingly consumer-driven.

In the past decade, the demand for higher education has begun to slide, with prospective students no longer seeing college as an inevitable step on their career path. The pandemic has only exacerbated this change as institutions scramble to maintain operations during a period of upheaval.

In a survey by Inside Higher Ed, 91% of responding college and university admissions officers were “concerned” or “very concerned” about meeting their enrollment goals for the fall 2021 semester. While institutions have had to innovate quickly to recover from pandemic-related enrollment dips, higher education must now look beyond COVID-19, reimagining recruitment tactics to stay competitive long-term.

Modern communication

Social media has quickly become a go-to recruitment tool, but in today’s attention economy, a panoramic shot of campus will have some tough competition for engagement. To reach a generation of students that grew up online, the answer is not to jump on the latest TikTok trend but to embrace the kind of peer-to-peer authenticity that’s come to define influencer culture. So, in addition to a steady cadence of institution-led social posts, consider hiring students as digital ambassadors to “take over” admissions’ Instagram stories for the day. These glimpses into daily life create mini campus tours that can engage prospective students anywhere.

While video may have killed the radio star, social media hasn’t yet finished off email, particularly when dealing with application logistics. Recruiting in uncertain times means clear, consistent communication is of the utmost importance, and as modern consumers, prospects expect messages to come to their inboxes already personalized.

Being able to pivot institutional goals quickly will also be critical as the landscape continues to evolve. By leveraging technology such as Ellucian CRM Recruit, institutions can manage these targeted communications adeptly and at scale to ensure every applicant gets the information they need, exactly when they need it. 

Evaluate evaluations

In response to widespread testing site closures in 2020, hundreds of institutions made a radical decision: cut standardized tests from their admissions requirements. While the ACT and SAT have long-defined college-readiness checklists, University Business notes that test-optional policies were already prevalent among some schools before 2020. This is largely due to the potential bias standardized tests give wealthier students with greater access to tutoring and preparatory resources.

Whether or not test-optional policies become the norm, this is an opportunity to pause and evaluate past practices. Enrollment leaders will need to determine which success metrics are most meaningful for their institutions moving forward. Likewise, as these requirements are updated, application volumes may spike, making it critical to equip admissions staff with the right tools and technology ahead of time.

Beyond recruitment

When it comes to recruitment, there is no going back to “normal.” Student demographics are shifting and so, too, is the higher education market, giving a clear advantage to institutions with flexible, scalable technology. Ellucian CRM Recruit enables recruitment officers to identify best-fit prospective students, communicate with them more effectively, and provide the type of personalized user experience today’s applicants expect. 

Of course, recruitment is only the beginning. Institutions must modernize systems and processes to support constituents throughout the entire lifecycle, keeping students on track for completion and nurturing a lifelong relationship with alumni. By embracing new technologies and continuing to accelerate digital transformation, higher education will be ready for the future.   

Interested in learning more? Schedule a demo with Ellucian.


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