Higher Ed Recruitment: Can We Help Ease Students’ Stress?
Having gone to college in the early 80s, I can’t personally identify with the search process students endure today. In my day it was simple. “You’re going to UConn,” my parents said. So that was it. One visit, one application, no stress.
Clearly times have changed. Today, students apply to multiple schools (College Board cites 5-8) meaning for each one, they research, visit, gather recommendations, apply, etc. All this energy and expense takes a toll — on students, families, and on the school’s admissions staff.
There’s no shortage of data showing the extreme stress students endure. In a New York Times editorial, Vicki Ebeles described a typical college-bound student as living a life where, “Each activity is seen as a step on the ladder to a top college, an enviable job and a successful life.” That’s a lot to shoulder at the age of 15. It’s no wonder, Ebeles reports, that 1 in 3 teens experience school-related sadness or depression.
We need to ease the burden — as enrollment professionals and (as many are) as parents. The goal for both parties is the same: to enroll the right student in the right institution, one where he/she will thrive.
Strategic recruitment tactics can make a difference. With the development of new technologies, colleges can now recruit “right-fit” students — those whose interests and goals match the institution’s strengths. With targeted digital marketing, we can cast a strategic net (rather than a wide net), pursuing fewer, but higher-yielding, students.
Over time, this will change the game and ease the burden. Colleges will streamline their recruitment efforts to focus on students who are more likely to enroll (and graduate). Students will apply to fewer, but better fitting, institutions.
Granted, this is only one step toward a solution that will undoubtedly be as complex as the problem itself, but it’s a step we can take today.