The Most Important Admissions Tips You’ll Read This Year.
Sure the headline is captivating but below are actionable admissions tips you can implement and realize the results this year.
So you’re the Vice President of Enrollment or Director of Admissions for a college or university. Oversimplified, your primary role is to fill the seats with the most qualified candidates. However, if only it was that simple. The reality is that you spend an immense amount of time, money and other resources over the course of a year to reach this year’s enrollment goals. You’ve got years of experience and you’re combining a number of tried-and-true techniques along with some “progressive” strategies. You buy lists of prospective students that meet the demographic profile of those statistically most likely to enroll. You host open houses, conduct countless campus tours, spend days in high school guidance offices and have attended your fair share of college fairs. You have Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts along with a YouTube channel. You may even be buying some Google AdWords. You’ve got your bases covered. What if I told you you’re doing it wrong? How dare I insult your wisdom, I mean, you’ve been doing this for twenty years right? Therein lies the problem. Recruiting a student today is vastly different than as recently as four years ago. I know change is difficult to accept and fear of the unknown is equally stress inducing. However, mark my words, we must either acclimate to the changing environment or risk becoming extinct.
Some of following admissions tips may sound a bit self-serving but with good reason. I am so confident and passionate about what I’m saying that I made it my livelihood. In other words, I practice what I preach.
Let me digress for a brief moment and tell you where I come from. I’ve attended an Ivy League school. Actually, all 8 of them. In fact, I’ve attended over 600 of the nation’s top colleges in the past eight years. I’ve been in the dorms, eaten in the dining halls, listened to faculty lectures, spoken to admissions, interviewed students and have seen areas of the school some students told me they have never had a chance to visit. I’ve looked through the nation’s most powerful university telescope, witnessed the most powerful college laser and walked on the hallowed fields of some of the most storied collegiate football programs. Oh! I also worked in university admissions and financial aid. I am the founder of YOUniversityTV.
Now what you’ve been waiting for, my top admissions tips to help you increase the inquiries going into the pipeline which will lead to a greater quantity and quality student enrolling. More importantly, you will have students who better “match” the university leading to greater retention and likely more successful graduates. In turn, you’ve created a positive cycle that will continue to pay dividends in the future.
#1 Video Is Worth 1.8 Million Key Words. The first thing we need to realize is that gone are the days of high school kids proactively searching through a volume of college data. In fact “search” itself has taken on an entirely new meaning. Today, search = Google. Well you say, “If someone were to search our school, we come up first in Google’s search results.” Of course you do. But how do students search the name of your school if they’re not familiar with it. No matter how strong your academic or athletic reputation, there are tens-of-thousands of highly qualified students who have never even heard of you. Most students will using a search term like “Which college is right for me?” After conducting such a search, the first actual college that came up in the search results was Babson College. It was on page TEN! You know what I did find? YOUniversityTV, Unigo, Niche, StartClass, and Noodle. It is with proper use of keywords that Google will return appropriate results. If you don’t know what keywords are and you’re not submersed in SEO, you better learn it.
We’ve all heard the expression that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, if video is 30 pictures per second, that would equal 30,000 words per second. In just 60-seconds, that’s 1.8 million keywords per minute. It’s also how high school kids spend nearly all of their spare time today, watching hours of internet video. Therefore, simply put, you need to be communicating via video.
#2 You Need To Be Where The Students Are In Order For Them To Come To You. If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound? If you have the world’s greatest web site and nobody visits it, you’re equally relevant (or irrelevant) as that tree. Yes you need a website. Yes you need a Twitter account. Yes you need a YouTube channel. But these are all methods to communicate with an existing audience. One of the great challenges of college recruitment is that every year there is a new batch of students that need to be made aware of you. One might say it was a great deal easier to communicate with them in the past because there was only one place to reach them. Nowadays, there are a plethora of places to reach a new audience. For example, do you SnapChat? What was your last Musically? Which apps are you in? Are you blogging regularly and promoting your blogs? So I reiterate, you have to go where the students are or they won’t come to you. #dontbeadinosaur #barney #iloveyouyouloveme
#3 Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone. So you’re about to buy a new refrigerator. The first thing you’ll likely do is a Google search for “Good Refrigerators.” Within the results, you’ll narrow down your search by size, name reputation, cost and customer reviews. This is exactly what students are doing when they search for a college. They end up on sites like the ones I mentioned in tip one and, will quite possibly rule out your school without ever visiting its website. Instead of sticking our head in the sand, we have to participate with these to the best degree possible. Don’t shy away from the reviews, embrace them. Since those reviews are how you are perceived, they’re who you are.
#4 Advertising Is Not A Four Letter Word. I know, I know, advertising is considered taboo in college recruiting. I mean, “Don’t we lose control as the gatekeepers to prestigious institutions that only a select few will know if we advertise?” No. In fact, I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir when I say that you can be more “selective” and more “long-term successful” if you have a greater talent pool to choose from. A wise VP of Enrollment for a well known prestigious university in Boston once said to me that his job was to attract as many students as possible so he could tell many of them they weren’t accepted. Digital advertising works when conducted properly. How do I know? It’s likely how you ended up reading this article. Display ads, pre-rolls, social media targeting are all highly effective when done right. Case in point, we’re in the middle of an ad campaign now which has already received over 100,000 impressions with a 7% click-through-rate (CTR.) That’s over 7,000 inquires we received in a about a week. How much did we spend? About $200. Additionally, we conducted a pre-roll campaign for a college in Florida. They bought 1-million impressions and got a 9% CTR. That’s 1-million college bound kids who learned about them and 90,000 of which visited the school’s website.
#5 Mobile.A couple of years ago, I sat in a small room with Eric Schmidt of Google. I asked him what three things he would be on for the future. His answer? Mobile, mobile and mobile. I’d say he was right. Are you looking at your college website from your office computer? Your audience isn’t. I recently had the privileged of sitting behind 30+ high school cheerleaders at a cheer competition. You know what they all had in common? Every single one of them had their noses down in their phones when they we’re seated, without exception. It was quite peculiar. But this is what high-schoolers do. They spend an inordinate amount of time of their phones.
Don’t believe me? We’ll, these admissions tips are a blog, advertised through social media. We optimized it for Google and made it mobile friendly. You’re reading it, likely on a mobile device.
I hope that you heed my advice and that these admissions tips help put your institution in a more competitive position. Please, don’t rest on your laurels or think you’re too big to fail. Today’s economic environment is having a dramatic impact on higher ed and requires us to be nimble and adaptive to avoid a worst-case scenario. As we’ve seen recently, the unthinkable can happen and without careful navigation, it will.
I check this regularly so if you have specific questions, please feel free to ask and I’ll answer as soon as possible.
If you’d like more information on how YOUniversityTV can help you, please click here.