Published on 2015/04/15

Three Priorities for Growing Student Enrollment Through Better Communication

The EvoLLLution | Three Priorities for Growing Student Enrollment Through Better Communication
Contextual communication based around student interests and institutional niche is critical for colleges and universities that want to drive both enrollment and retention.

Today’s higher education marketplace is characterized by unprecedented choice for students—and new levels of competition for institutions. From four-year public and private universities to community colleges and online education providers, students can choose between a wide array of learning options.

In order to grow and meet their objectives, schools must find ways to become even more effective in their communications with current and prospective students. Not only must they demonstrate value, but also they must ensure that their communications ultimately help students achieve their long-term goals. In this way, institutions can build a record of student success.

What does this look like in practice? The answer can be summarized in three fundamental priorities.

1. A school’s communications must be focused on students’ needs

What are student-centric communications? These are communications and messages tailored to a school’s particular audience of current and prospective students and designed around the stages of student progress and achievement. From the first exploratory emails to reminders about necessary admissions deadlines to text messages about graduation schedules, every interaction is grounded in the goals and challenges of real students at that particular school.

In order to accomplish this, however, it is important for institutions to build their communications on a foundation of empirical data about students’ needs. This means undertaking institutional and marketplace research. What are their students’ unique goals and needs? Which programs do they seek out? What are the preferred channels of communication? With answers to these questions and more, schools can create communication strategies that put students first.

2. Communications should be contextualized for a student’s place in the student lifecycle

In order to be as effective as possible, institutions know that they must tailor communications to each student’s position in the student lifecycle.

However, this contextual approach should begin well before a student registers for class. Prospective students also have contextual needs and priorities and they expect quick responses to their questions. It’s important to create communication plans that reach target groups of students with relevant and timely messaging, depending on specific needs and challenges. For this reason, it can be helpful to employ an outsourced enrollment call center that will accurately represent the school’s voice and vision and supply resources to swiftly answer all the inquiries they receive.

3) Guide students proactively, not reactively

Once a school understands the particular needs of its particular student body at each stage of the student lifecycle, the institution can begin to act proactively rather than reactively. This means helping students move forward in the way that will best support their continued success.

And as mentioned earlier, if a student is at the beginning stages of the lifecycle, their school might actively guide them through the process of submitting financial aid applications and registering for classes. For students in the later stages, the school might communicate with them to actively help secure internships or prepare for graduation.

The key is to remember that institutional messaging shouldn’t be an afterthought. On the contrary, it can be a fundamental building block in a school’s strategy to promote student success, and ultimately to improve retention and enrollment. When institutions put students first and support them through communications, they make it possible for both students and the school as a whole to grow.

To learn more about improving your student recruitment strategies, download Blackboard’s free Recruitment Playbook.

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