How to Recruit College students? This question has been asked by admissions departments around the world for a very long time. The answer is simply, Systematically. The fact is student recruitment is a complicated process a journey both for the prospective student and for the college. With many steps along that journey and multiple departments and individuals involved, the only way to maximize the efforts to build this pipeline and operate at peak enrollment is to have a system in place. This system should allow the college to identify and build a persona for their ideal prospective students across programs and courses that make sense. It should also put in a place a defined journey for these personae to take, and finally the system should close the prospect into an actual student and empower that new student the ability to evangelize about the school attracting more ideal personas.
1. Student Persona
Simply stated your persona is going to be a creation of the type of student that you would like to recruit. Things you're going to consider when building this persona are factors like programs and departments you'd think would attract that persona and what do you want to project to that person about what the experience would be like if they came to your college. Profitability factors may play into building out the persona also the student culture that you may be trying to develop. Typically, you'd one to stick to one or two personas but for a college it may be admissible to have multiple personas if your strategy is to highlight individual degree programs and departments. Once you've built out your persona(s) they become the guiding force for recruitment decisions moving forward every part of the journey built to attract delight and convert those prospects into actual students.
2. Prospects Journey
You've built your persona and know that it's a key component of how to recruit college students. Once you begin to attract prospects who fit the persona how do you go about converting those into actual students? You must build out a journey for your prospect to take so they can easily transition through the decision-making process and ultimately decide to attend your college The awareness stage of the journey is when the persona becomes aware that there is a challenge. In this case a desire to go to college but is undecided about a number of factors including where to go. The consideration stage is where the prospect is looking for solutions to these challenges but not necessarily which college to go to but perhaps what course of study, typical cost, length of degree programs etc. The decision stage is where you present your college as the obvious choice for the prospect and because they've been catered to with a journey built specifically fro them converting into a student should be a seamless transition. Built in call to actions, providing valued information is essential to the conversion path bringing your persona(s) from one stage of the journey to the next.
This final component is one that can be often ignored when talking about how to recruit college students. Making sure your current students are pleased with the service that you're providing them, and empowering those students to share their pleasure with the college is one of the most underutilized tools in student recruitment. Who's more apt to attract other recruits that fit the defined persona then the persona themselves. Deliver the services at a high level and deputize current students to spread the word creates a cyclical effect for your recruitment pipeline helping achieve those enrollment goals.
A systematic approach is the answer to how to recruit college students. Delighting current students, knowing the type of students you'd like to recruit and building out a journey catered toward that persona is a system that can have great returns. It can also be used across multiple departments and personnel. What are your thoughts on these keys to recruitment, have you seen or yourself implemented recruitment systems that worked? Feel free to comment below we always enjoy dialogue with you.