Admissions, Higher Ed

25 Do’s and Dont’s of Higher Education Student Recruitment

Parchment Staff  •  Oct 05, 2022  •  Blog

Despite falling college enrollment numbers, higher education student recruitment is not just a sad song. In fact, first-time freshmen enrollment increased by 4.2 percent in spring 20221. What are those college enrollment marketing teams doing right? Is it a sound social media recruitment plan? Could it be a more targeted outreach strategy? 

Let’s dive into the enrollment marketing strategies to consider and the ones to tune out. 

Why the best-fit students aren’t applying to your college or university: It could be your student recruitment plan

Does your college’s student recruitment plan need a tune-up? Here are some heavily-hit recruitment issues2 your plan may be failing to address:

  • Higher numbers of high school graduates sitting out college: How easily can your admissions and recruitment team connect with college-bound students as early as middle school? 
  • Gaps in students from low-income and minority households enrolling in four-year colleges and universities: Are students from underrepresented backgrounds aware of your financial aid and scholarship opportunities?
  • Higher rate of students struggling to adjust to college life and academic rigor after pandemic disruptions: Are you able to identify high schools with rich pools of prospective students?
  • Growing distrust of higher education as a place for students to gain the skills they need to succeed. Are prospective students and their families hearing about the invaluable experiences and life-building skills your student ambassadors credit to your institution?

To grab the attention of high-interest students, colleges and universities need to be ready with the right messaging, enrollment process, and top-funnel online marketing tactics to break through the noise and call out all your school has to offer.

Parchment Recruit is a leading tool to connect with prospective students — 50% of high school students use Parchment — who have said they want to hear from your higher education institution.

Next up: the do’s and don’ts for boosting recruitment at your college or university.

Student recruitment has changed: Do’s and Don’ts

Higher education admission and recruitment strategies for reaching college-ready high school students has to reflect the times. COVID-19 taught all of us how flexible and resilient higher education can be with the help of technology. Does your plan reflect what your best-fit students are looking for in a college or university education and experience? In other words, is your potential high school student the center of your recruitment plan? 

New student recruitment strategies

Here are key ways to get the attention of high-potential new students:

Do ensure your marketing plan aligns with your student admission goals for high school graduates.

Do know where your freshmen class came from — in-state, out-of-state, international or feeder schools — and continue to market to those districts or high schools.

Don’t forget about marketing to middle school students as tech companies and college athletic departments have been for years. 

Do recruit students virtually using a variety of tools — digital recruitment software, website, social media platforms, webinar, chatbots and virtual reality tours.

Don’t forget about all the paperwork a student needs to apply to your school and request high school transcripts for your top candidates. 

Ways to recruit international students 

The U.S. is the top destination for international students to study abroad. In the 2019-2020 academic year, 4.6% of college students enrolled in U.S. higher education programs were foreign-born. If you’re hoping to see incremental growth in foreign student recruitment at your college or university, consider the following strategies:

Do offer content that is relevant and important to your prospect — student visa process and forms, financial aid and scholarship, housing, and internship opportunities — to prospective foreign students’ college experience and beyond. 

Don’t miss an opportunity to find a high-potential new student who is also foreign-born in a U.S. high school.

Do pay attention to your marketing and engagement channels to ensure they are outshining your competitors’. 

Diversity recruitment do’s and don’ts

College admissions had been raising the enrollment rate of underrepresented (particularly Hispanic) students until the pandemic gave way to more students sitting out a year to help care for their families. Additionally, remote school meant disadvantaged students lacked access to student academic counseling services and opportunities to meet with recruiters at school. Here are top considerations for targeting students from underrepresented areas:

Do promote blog and video posts by student ambassadors who are relatable and authentic. 

Do make “after-office” hour academic counseling available to prospective students who may be working part-time or even full-time jobs to support their families. 

Don’t only tell underrepresented stories during their Awareness Week or Month. In other words, avoid patronizing these groups. 

Do send marketing materials by mail to their schools as many low-income students may not have a way to print photo-image quality brochures or collateral at home. 

Do make it easy to share the excitement about your school on social media platforms via mobile apps.

Do provide video tutorials on how to complete an application and the enrollment process. 

Don’t forget about helping prospective students to complete their application.

Advertising and Marketing Do’s and Don’ts

In a competitive market, catching the attention of best-fit potential students and keeping them engaged and excited about your school through enrollment requires a recruitment marketing plan that is effective and personalized to each high-prospective student. Here are the do’s and don’ts of student recruitment advertising and marketing:

Do target your messaging to the highest-potential pools of students, not just the largest pools.

Do have a plan for each marketing channel that generates the most inquiries from potential students for your school.

Don’t neglect your website content. Keep it fresh, relevant and easy to search. 

Do make it very convenient for prospective students and their families to ask questions about your school through chatbots, text, an online form, email or phone. 

Don’t forget to follow up with any inquiry or website visitor and make it painless to respond to you.

Do offer opportunities to opt-in on e-news, online forums or webinars and follow you on social media with some of their information (i.e., student email address, first and last names).

Don’t forget to track your followers, subscriptions and virtual attendees on a regular basis (i.e., monthly or quarterly).

Do explore the metaverse and how that will shape your recruitment strategy in the future.

Do share stories and updates about programs that interest your prospective student rather than more generic information, such as an alert about your school ranking. 

Do have branded materials in print and online that cross-promote a major, extracurricular activity, internship or scholarship opportunity to share during recruitment. 

Next up: How to harmonize these student recruitment strategies with your enrollment program’s goal.

Parchment Recruit is the must-have tool for a modern recruitment strategy

At Parchment, we know data is critical to a well-orchestrated recruitment plan. That’s why we created an analytics platform that brings all the critical elements together in harmony. Parchment Recruit helps higher education admissions to:

  • See which students select their school and see the student’s data (i.e., class rank, high school, GPA, SAT/ACT scores).
  • Connect with students when you’re on their mind and begin building a relationship at an opportune time. 
  • Give you the data needed to create personalized, targeted marketing and advertising messaging that boosts enrollment.

To orchestrate your recruitment plan with resounding success, contact us to learn more about Parchment Recruit.

1 National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, May 26, 2022
2 National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, November 18, 2021

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