Recruitment During COVID: Evolving Strategies
By: Laura Sheehan
Although the nation’s top institutions are experiencing a surge in applications, most of the colleges I know are facing COVID-related enrollment shortages. There’s no doubt the virus has placed intense strain upon an already-stressed system.
The data, though well known, is alarming:
In September 2020, 67% of prospective students were reconsidering higher education and looking at other options
Enrollment fell 2.5% in fall 2020, almost twice the rate of the previous year
Dire circumstances, yes, but not impossible to overcome. Within the chaos, a few opportunities have presented themselves. Here’s what I recommend:
- Put more into your digital recruitment marketing, a lot more. COVID has pushed our culture forward in time in terms of online comfort and usage, and there’s no going back. Research prior to COVID has shown the growing importance of online marketing with more and more prospective students responding to online ads. In 2019, 64% of high school juniors clicked on a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ad, up 29% from the previous year.
Build a series of digital campaigns that promote your school’s various value points: success, community, affordability, and other distinguishing factors. Because digital campaigns are targeted and affordable, they’re an ideal way of moving students through the admissions funnel and filling pockets of enrollment potential.
Here are some recent campaigns we developed to reach specific audiences:
- Close to Home commuter recruitment
- Catholic student recruitment
- Hispanic student recruitment
- Adult learners for 2-year healthcare programs
- Academic program campaigns
- Transfer students
- Scholarship campaigns
- Virtual visits and online recruitment events
- Keep accepting applications throughout the summer. Ultimately most schools will, so jump on it and market the message. One of the reasons students are not applying is that they’re waiting to see what happens. Acknowledge their uncertainty and remind them that you understand.
And remember this: The rise in applications at elite schools means there will also be a number of rejected applicants. Stay open to them.
- Make your school memorable by marketing its unique success story. Success marketing works on multiple levels, but mostly because it inspires action (guiding prospects to Apply, Visit, Learn More, etc.) via authentic and engaging success stories. We build success into all our campaigns — it distinguishes an institution for its true value.
Many of us are living the same reality, one with high competition and lowering prospects. As we work through COVID (and whatever comes next!) I’d love to hear from you: your thoughts, ideas, and concerns.
Contact us for a conversation or to partner on enrollment.
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SEARCH THE BLOG
- Your School’s Distinctive Success Story: Why & How to Market It
- Inspiring Students throughout the Recruitment Process
- Part 2: Students Say Your Website Can Make or Break Their Enrollment Decision
- Part 1: Students Say Your Website Can Make or Break Their Enrollment Decision
- The #1 Thing You Can Do for Enrollment
- Finding a “Pocket of Potential” in Summer Enrollment
- How Small & Specific Digital Enrollment Campaigns Yield Timely Results
- Decision Day and Beyond: How Digital Marketing Can Reach Prospects at Critical Points in the Enrollment Cycle
- An Enrollment Management Strategy to Offset the Federal Overtime Rule
- Community Colleges Offer Strong & Specific Value: Tell It & Sell It through Success Stories
- Inbound Inquiries are High Yielding Inquiries
- Is a High Bounce Rate Really Such a Bad Thing?
- Student Satisfaction and the Bottom Line
- Getting a Handle on Your University or College’s Social Media Strategy
- The Value of Content in a Higher Education Website
- Digital Advertising for Colleges and Universities: Don’t be Impressed by Impressions
- Enrollment-Driven Higher Ed Websites: A Recruitment Solution
- The Power of the Human Story: In Enrollment Campaigns & In Life
- Recruiting Adult Learners on Their Terms
- Community College Recruitment: Breaking old Stereotypes via Student Success Stories
- Part III: How an Enrollment-driven Website Can Serve Higher Ed Recruitment
- Part II: How an Enrollment-driven Website Can Serve Higher Ed Recruitment
- How an Enrollment-driven Website Can Serve Higher Ed Recruitment
- The 2016 Internet Trends Report: 4 Takeaways for Higher Ed Recruitment
- What Can Other Colleges Learn from Recent Closures? Staying Current in an Ever-Changing World
- From Enrollment Professional to Parent: My New Insights into the College Search Process
- Does your Higher Ed Website Work For or Against Enrollment? Three Tips to Assess its Recruitment Effectiveness
- Step Up Summer Enrollment: How a Digital Campaign Can Stem Summer Melt & Inspire New Applications
- Looking to Recruit Adult Students? Good News: They’re Telling Us How
- What Can Community Colleges do to Counteract Declining Enrollment? Turns Out Your Institutional Stories are your Best Ammunition
- 5 Tips to Celebrating — and Selling — the Value of the Humanities
- Recruiting a Shifting Demographic: Today’s Minority is Tomorrow’s Majority
- Sure, March Madness Brings an Admissions Bump — If You’re a Big Name DI University
- Higher Ed Recruitment: Can We Help Ease Students’ Stress?
- Countering the Decline: How to Sell Small Liberal Arts Colleges to Gen Z
- Put your Recruitment Eggs in the Basket-of-High-Returns
- Calculate’s Web Recruitment Strategy Recognized at Global Marketing Forum
- Digital Search: A New Way of Finding Right-Fit Students
- 6 Tips to Guide your Decision when Hiring a Digital Marketing Firm
- Content is the Driving Force Behind a Successful Higher Ed Website
- Your Website Isn’t a Project. It’s a Perpetual Work in Progress.
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