If you’ve been following Highbrid for some time, you know that student recruitment is one of our passions. In fact, one of our most popular blogs shows ways that private schools can improve student recruitment, specifically for private schools.
In that blog, one of the suggestions on improving recruitment was highlighting programs that could potentially separate your institution from your competition. This tactic can be a powerful draw for potential students and with all the competition, separating yourself is going to be key in breaking through to your target audience.
From identifying your most popular program to leveraging quality testimonials from current students, here are 5 ways your institution can use unique programs to separate from the pack and recruit your target students.
1. What’s Your Most Attractive Program?
This is the first step in an effort to separate yourself from the competition. Determining which program to highlight can vary in difficulty based on, the size of the school, how many programs you offer, and whether or not you’ve ever kept track of interest before.
Some of information may be anecdotal, some might be backed up by hard data. You may have so many programs that you’re not certain what the appeal is for your target student persona.
Without accurate data, you could end up wasting resources and efforts on highlighting programs that either a. Don’t need it because they’re popular enough that students apply anyway or b. Are in a dying field that you should scrap all together. You need to be able to measure program performance in order to make informed decisions.
One way to do this is to simply ask. When prospects are applying or showing interest, survey them and look for patterns. Once these patterns emerge, use that data to make informed decisions.
Another approach, highlighted in our St. Peters College Case Study, is to place different codes on your Call-To-Actions in your ad buys, with each code representing a specific program. This would provide valuable insight on which programs you should highlight based on responses, as well as help you track which media platforms illicit the most responses, and whether it makes sense to allocate more efforts and resources to those mediums moving forward.
2. Student Testimonials
Prospective students are naturally skeptical of institutions, but they’re more inclined to trust their peers, other students. Testimonials are a powerful tool in recruitment and having students who co-sign the message of the institution can be just what you need to edge out the competition.
Find current (even alumni) students in the most popular programs. Record written, video or even audio testimonials and leverage that in your institution’s content. The content can be used as part of media buys or blogs and/or vlogs hosted on the school website. Current and alumni students will personalize the experience and make a connection with prospective students in a way an institution isn’t quite capable of doing.
3. Highlighting Success Stories
People love to share their successes and they also love to hear about success, especially as it relates to individuals in their field of study or career path. Show recruits their potential reflected by a shining example of a student or group that achieved the type of success the recruits desire. Similar to the individual testimonial, this type of effort connects and resonates on a deeper, human and emotional level which is difficult to tap into or replicate for that matter, so it’s not something you have to worry about the competition copying. These stories (content) are unique to your school and the highlighted program.
4. Esteemed Faculty
Do you have well known or interesting faculty at your school? Authors, talking heads, former politicians/high level government officials? This could be a great way of separating yourself from the competition.
People want to go where the thought leaders are, and if you’ve got faculty that are considered leaders in their field, especially if they’re part of the program(s) you wish to highlight, that should be leveraged as part of your recruitment message.
You’ll want to highlight if the faculty member has numerous awards and accolades, making the connection in the persona’s mind that success in their desired field is achievable. This should provide strong motivation for attending and striving at your school.
Once the most popular programs are identified, another great recruitment tactic is crafting aid packages specific to this program. This provides an extra layer of motivation for prospects. It also sets up a competitive narrative which by default raises the profile of not only the program but the institution. Prospects express interest in this area and also have the opportunity to receive assistance in pursuing exactly what they want. This is a very compelling position and one that can lead to a competitive application process which traditionally is a draw for an institution.
Private school student recruitment isn’t easy and we’ve highlighted several ways you can approach this process. The ability to separate yourself from the competition in the eyes and mind of your target persona is going to be crucial in keeping that pipeline full of converting prospects into students semester after semester!