Engaging with and helping to select the right students matters in higher education. That said, studies show that many higher education institutions struggle to implement effective recruitment strategies which encompass various methods best suited to reach prospective students. Years ago, effective recruitment entailed school/campus visits, open houses, and published ads, but it’s a new age. In today’s ever-advancing technological society, it is paramount to utilize a multichannel recruitment strategy as diversity in recruitment methods increases the likelihood of success. Any multi-channel strategies should include two components as the foundation – the phone and email.
The essential factor in any strategy is to consider your audience and what you are communicating. All messages (verbal or written) need to be authentic, clear and concise. Static methods of communication don’t work. Higher education administrators must recognize that the prospective student is in control. Due to increases in technology advancement, prospective students expect information to be fast and easily retrieved. Personal contact (e.g. phone calls) is an initial preferred method of communication. However, maintaining the connection is equally as important. Email can serve as a secondary method of communication to reinforce student engagement during the recruitment cycle.
Establishing personal, phone contact with prospective students early on is vital – students need to feel supported, and connected to the institution. During initial conversations, pay attention to the needs of the student, their questions, and concerns as these are essential items to reinforce via email as well as in subsequent conversations.
Alternatively, some students prefer email as a direct and primary contact method. At JMH, we send follow up emails, in addition to making phone calls, when responding to a student inquiry. We have found that we receive just as high a response rate via email as we do from phone calls – the challenge is you never know if someone prefers email or to talk to a person that’s why using both is important.
For prospective students who are open to connecting over email a well-designed communication plan is key. This means ensuring you have an engaging tag line, present information in a personal and informative manner, and direct students to helpful links and resources are paramount. The goal is to connect with the student in a personal manner like a personal phone conversation, only through a different channel.
The truth is, there will always be methods of communication which are preferred by some students more than others. However, knowing the audience assists administrators in devising the most effective student recruitment strategies. Remember, communication starts with a conversation. Whether verbal or written, engaging the student is key. Serve your prospective student audience by utilizing multichannel communication methods to enhance recruitment success rates, building rapport during communication stages, and reinforcing important items in successive communication. After all, the services provided during the recruitment cycle can directly impact the student’s perception of the institution and thus their likelihood of enrollment.