By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
2 minute read
In the words of one rising high school senior, “We don’t want college search pamphlets, flyers, and emails with a list of majors and every other kind of information on it. We want something shorter and more personalized, if that’s possible.”
Numerous quotes like that continue to show up every time we do focus group research.
Too many colleges and universities are overwhelming prospective students at the beginning of their search with loads of information that feels like a full-on sales pitch.
It’s not that a lot of the information isn’t important or useful, but when so much is thrown at students all at once, they remember little to none of it even if they choose to read it.
The other problem is, when prospective students get overwhelmed or annoyed, many tell us it leads them to ignore some or all of the future messages you send.
I cannot reiterate this point enough:
You don’t need to tell them everything all at once. You just need to share enough to get their attention and create engagement or action.
That rule applies throughout the entire college search process regardless of a student’s stage.
For example, consider sending rising high school seniors an email from their admissions counselor that addresses not wanting to overwhelm the student with tons of information, but instead wanting to get them information they care about. Ask them which one of these three topics they want to know most about right now – financial aid, student life and activities, or careers related to their major or the major they’re thinking about.
In our ongoing focus group surveys, those three topics continue to rank highest when we ask students, “When you started to learn more about different colleges and universities, besides a school having the academic major you were interested in, which one of these topics did you want more information about right away?”
Plan to spread out your recruiting story because it’s a more effective strategy. I want you to consistently give different groups of students small bits of information about specific aspects of your school’s value proposition – the location, academic environment, dorms/campus life, student resources, affordability, outcomes, etc.
There’s also value in asking those same students what they think about what you just shared. Replace some of your transactional calls to action with a direct question that feels personal and encourages engagement.
Over a long period of time this approach has resulted in more campus visits, applications, and deposits/commitments for our clients and others who have implemented it. Plus, this strategy aligns more with how this generation takes in information. It’s more likely to stick if you consistently deliver it in smaller doses, and you reiterate your strongest value points in a personal way.
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