Student recruitment is one of the most exciting components of college admissions. Interacting with hopeful young minds, getting them excited about your institution, helping students find a new home for their academic ambitions … What could feel better than that?
Yet, the role comes with challenges as well. New student enrollments are still decreasing. At the same time, the actual number of applications themselves are increasing, as students apply to more and more colleges in an effort to hedge their bets.
The result for you? More work.
With increased competition to recruit those same students, there’s only one answer if you want to reach your enrollment plans…You need a student recruitment plan.
Let’s look at what a student recruitment plan is, why it’s important, what you must do upfront before creating one, what it should include and the role software should play.
What Is A Student Recruitment Plan?
A recruitment plan is a document that outlines exactly whom you’re trying to recruit to your school and how you plan to do it.
It includes not only the kinds of students you want to attract, but your plans for attracting them, the tools you will use, and how you will measure success.
Why Is A Student Recruitment Plan Important?
Many institutions know they want more students at their schools – the better to increase budget and prestige – but they struggle to get those students.
A student recruitment plan not only uses data to analyze where your recruitment resources are best spent but will also help outline those strategies in specific detail. Without one, you are shooting at a target in the dark. The chances of success are much, much lower than if you have a strategic plan.
What Needs To Be Done Before Creating The Plan?
This step is often overlooked by institutions, but it is very important in the planning stage. Here’s a quick step by step guide of the 4 main areas to consider.
Step 1: Analyze Your Data
First and foremost, take any data you have about what’s worked in past and analyze it. Which activities bring in the most interest and the best student profiles? That is where you will want to focus your efforts.
Ideally, your admissions CRM software can provide analytics such as these. If you don’t have this type of software or your existing one is providing quality information, you may need to look into getting new software to track outreach events, student recruitment efforts, enrollments and more.
Step 2: Determine Enrollment Trends
Trends in enrollment are always changing. It is important to keep up on those changes in national student yield rates, student demographics, household income averages and any other trends that might affect your school’s ability to meet your enrollment numbers.
This information impacts your goals and applicant profiles, so being up to date helps you make necessary adjustments.
Step 3: Reassess Your Goals
Take a look at your current goals. Do they still work for you? Where do they need adjustment? How do they align with the overall goals of the school? What is the minimum GPA you’re willing to entertain?
Look at how adjustments in your criteria may improve your numbers. Or perhaps you might focus on your online outreach and enrollment efforts.
Get clear on your goals, and you can complete the next step much more effectively.
Step 4: Create Applicant Profiles
Once you know your goals and have your data in hand, you can create applicant profiles. Where do your students come from? What’s their GPA? What kinds of extracurriculars do they have?
By looking at your best students/graduates, you can get a clear idea of who you want to bring in.
What Should Be Included In The Plan?
Once you have completed the four steps above, it is important to put a written plan of action in place. The plan should include:
- Assessment of Your Institution’s Current Enrollment – What Works, Top Feeder High Schools,
- Trends In Enrollment – Changing Enrollment Numbers, Demographics and Generational Behavior Patterns
- Goals Moving Forward – Adjusted Goals Based On Assessment and Research, Areas of Improvement
- Applicant Profiles – Geographic Targets, Demographics, GPAs, Test Scores
- Plan To Achieve Goals
- Outreach Efforts – College Fairs, High School Visits, Campus Tours, International Visits, Webinars, Online Tours
- Communications Plan – Social Media Efforts, Mailers, Emails to Prospects including deadline dates
- Technology Tools – CRM and Admissions Software
Keep in mind that it is important to involve stakeholders from recruitment, admissions and enrollment. All of those department have an influence on what prospects think of your school.
Creating teams to work on different aspects of the plan help to get staff members invested in the process. They also have insight into how to make things more successful because they are personally involved.
And, once the student recruitment plan is completed, be sure to share it with the entire staff of all three departments and reinforce their role in implementing the plan. It is a group effort to make it a success.
How to Get Started
Often when you start creating a strategic recruitment plan, challenges with your existing departmental processes comes to light. If processes need improving, it is critical to start as soon as possible assessing the issues and finding solutions.
Many schools still have all or parts of their process being done manually. There are ways to use software solutions to maximize staff efforts. As things are getting more competitive every day, now is the time to start looking for a solution that allows for managing and tracking of all aspects of recruitment, admissions and enrollment.
This is the typically the part of the plan that institutions of higher learning most neglect. They spend so much time making plans and hoping for good results that they forget to focus on efficiency and automation.
With a student recruitment and admissions CRM at your side, you increases your chances of meeting your enrollment numbers now and in the future.