Author’s note: This post is taken directly from our free eBook: The Definitive Guide to Undergraduate Recruiting
Did you know that overall higher education enrollments were down 1.7% for the fall of 2015? The reality is that the wants and needs of today’s students are much different than they were even five years ago. They want to know that earning a degree will help them jumpstart a career—and they’re worried that it won’t. They want to know that paying for tuition won’t make them go into extreme debt. They want flexibility when it comes to scheduling, more customized degree options, and they want answers, yesterday. Combine that with increased competition for the same increasingly smaller pool of prospective students, and it’s clear that schools need to not only address these concerns, but also do everything in their power to stand out from the crowd.
At EducationDynamics, our experience as a pioneer in online student recruitment and a marketing expert in higher education tells us one thing: you need a plan tailored to your school’s unique needs. And behind that plan, you need good data, competitive strategies, and innovative marketing tactics.
Do your prep work
Before your school can effectively hope to recruit students, you need to know who your ideal student is, what they want, and how to speak to them. Laying down this groundwork will be the guide for your marketing plan moving forward. Also, defining and targeting your niche audience is much more effective than casting a wide net over the general population of undergrad students (and hoping something sticks).
Define your target audience
We know your goal isn’t simply to recruit students, but to recruit the right students. At the end of the day, you want the people who enroll in your programs to thrive—and to graduate. So it makes sense to take a look at what your successful students are doing and use them as a model for the students you want to attract. In order to do this, you’ll need to ask some key questions:
- What is their age range?
- What is their educational background?
- Where are they from?
- What is their socioeconomic status?
- Who are their influencers?
- What are their core beliefs and values?
Once you have the answers, your school’s ideal student “persona” will begin to form – thus making it that much easier to target the right kinds of students.