Although the effects of the coronavirus and efforts to slow its spread can be felt across many American industries, higher education has stood out as one of the most severely impacted. With so much uncertainty about what the fall 2020 semester may look like, taking actions to increase the yield for the upcoming semester may be more important than ever for many higher education institutions. And since nearly all college and university campuses are now closed, traditional efforts to convert accepted students into starts, like accepted students days, campus tours and final meetings with admissions teams, must evolve to adapt to the current quarantined environment. In this article, we dive into three strategies for boosting fall 2020 yield and highlight colleges and universities that have found ways to effectively innovate amidst uncertainty.
Strategy #1 For Boosting Enrollment Yield: Leverage A Multimedia Approach To Engage Admitted Students
Since face-to-face visits aren’t currently possible, schools need to find other ways to engage students, leveraging channels students are likely to be using. Video calls, text messaging and regular emails are all ways to personally engage admitted students and usher them toward fall starts. Now is the time for college marketing teams to ramp up social media and YouTube content to showcase virtual events, webcasts, tours and interviews to highlight the benefits of attending their institutions. Georgia Tech recently launched their admitted student-focused GTAdmission YouTube channel with content including tour guide videos, student profiles and “day in the life” videos showcasing various majors, intended to help guide admitted students toward the decision to start at GT for the fall semester.
Strategy #2 For Enticing Accepted College Students To Start In The Fall: Make A Splash With Virtual Events
Since students are unable to attend major decision-making events like on-campus admitted students days, taking the events online while maintaining the excitement, fun and sense of community these events bring to admitted students is crucial. Some schools, like UC Berkeley, are going big with their virtual events geared towards admitted students. Instead of hosting roughly 40,000 visitors at the UC Berkeley campus, the university kicked off Cal Week last weekend, a week-long virtual event with more than 100 unique sessions, including pre-recorded messages and live streams designed to engage and inform admitted students. Other schools, like Marquette University, have chosen to focus on more personalized virtual experiences for admitted students by sending pre-recorded videos (often filmed on iPhones for a more unpolished, authentic look) from faculty and current students to accepted students to help convey the warmth of their campus, faculty and student body.
Strategy #3 To Get Admitted College Students To Enroll: Show Empathy And Put It Into Action
Many higher education institutions have May 1 deadlines for admitted students to decide if they will be attending for the fall semester. However, with prospective students and families currently facing unprecedented challenges and uncertainty, providing additional time for admitted students to make their final enrollment decisions can help alleviate some of their decision-making stress and help position institutions as empathetic and understanding. Many schools, like Champlain College, have extended their deadlines from May 1 to June 1, and some, like Kent State University, have removed or relaxed testing requirements. Marketers can partner with admissions teams to craft messages of empathy and understanding for admitted students, highlighting new policies and showcasing ways they are putting admitted students’ needs first.
In these uncertain times, it’s important to see the opportunities in the crisis. Although many of the strategies to help drive admitted students toward a fall start were birthed out of necessity, they can be adapted to become part of the “new normal,” building on and enhancing traditional recruitment efforts down the road.
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