By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
3 minute read
As deposits for the fall continue to trickle in, a big focus for most enrollment leaders and admission teams is preventing ‘summer melt.’
Losing 7-10%, or more, of your incoming class can turn a winning year into a down year.
Keep in mind that much like the college search process, the transition to college tends to be a little overwhelming, even if it is exciting for most students. They still don’t know what they don’t know.
I continue to see way too many colleges and universities become almost entirely transactional in their messaging and communications to committed students. That’s a big mistake and one I want you to avoid.
People change their minds all the time, which is why it’s critical that you continue to consistently provide personal touchpoints.
Here are a few more tips and proven strategies that will help you effectively manage this crucial time frame in the admissions cycle:
- Your communication flow to this group of students should be a combination of emails and text messages.
- In terms of frequency, three to four messages per month is sufficient.
- Your messaging doesn’t all have to come from the same person, but if it’s from someone that the student is unfamiliar with, be sure to introduce them first, and always reinforce that the student has someone who is available to listen and provide support.
- For your email content, in addition to outlining various next steps, focus on reiterating your school’s strongest value points while also filling in some the blanks related to the upcoming transition. That could include messaging on things like what to expect during the first week; what current students think about their classes and professors – even better if it’s major/program specific; a welcome message from the Dean of their college; key resources on campus; what it’s like to live on campus or be a commuter; opportunities to get involved in clubs and organizations; fun things current students like to do off campus; as well as things that surprise new students.
- Text messaging should be utilized for important reminders (dates, deadlines, and events), alerting students to emails they may have missed or missing items, and as a way to gauge how they’re feeling at key points in time. Give your incoming students different opportunities to engage by asking direct questions like, “What are you most excited about when it comes to being a student here?” Or, “How are you feeling about moving away from home?”
- Find ways to connect students to your campus community. Social media is a great way to introduce them to some of the people, places, activities, and events that make your college or university’s student experience fun and enjoyable. For example, create videos where current students talk about how they decorated their dorm rooms, as well as important do’s and don’ts for those first few weeks. You can also virtually connect everyone on different platforms by hosting games or competitions where new students compete online against each other or even your current students. The goal is to create opportunities for incoming students to meet some of their future classmates now and start to feel more comfortable with their new home away from home. These things will also help alleviate some of the fear and uncertainty that many new students have.
- Communication to the parents of committed students is a must! Parents and family members will either be an asset or an obstacle. To ensure they’re an asset, continue to keep them in the loop in a way that feels personal (i.e. separate emails versus CC’ing them). Your content should focus on some of the same things I mentioned earlier, but from a parent point of view. You’ll also want to reinforce key value points related to financial aid, the ROI of your school’s degree, and safety. Lastly, I encourage you to consider getting feedback from the parents of current first year students about key things like letting go and how to best support your child during the transition. From a frequency standpoint, once or twice a month is sufficient.
- If you have handoffs or communication from other departments on campus, do your best to coordinate and collaborate so that the messaging feels connected and doesn’t start to feel a lot less personal.
- When it comes to completing important forms and documents, do your best to spread those out as much as possible.
If you’d like to talk more about summer melt, or anything else related to student recruitment, feel free to drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you found this article helpful, forward it to someone else on your campus who could also benefit from reading it.