Successful universities build their reach and influence through an increasing number of enrolled students. A healthy and growing student body will ultimately affect your faculty, staff, budgets, and the programs that impact your educational organization.
This is why reaching out to high school counselors can make a tremendous impact in your college admission tactics. You want to be the best fit for any prospect, both financially and academically. To do this, you will need to provide coherent and exhaustive information for any questions or inquiries, and prove to your prospects that your school is more than just a top pick. By working with high school counselors at targeted institutions, you can help to channel prospects toward your educational programs.
As with any sales program, this will be a lot of hard work. Engaging with high school counselors might take the form of communicating via emails, phone calls, and financial programs over months or years of contact time.
Your admissions funnel should consist of a specific demographic or target audience, including:
- Prospective students
- Inquiring students
- Those that become applicants
- Those that are admitted
- Follow-through of enrollment, or students.
Retaining students through an entire program of study is a difficult one, and should be considered during budget allocations. Optimizing the channeling process saves time, effort, and accomplishes more significant results than simply ‘fish netting’ large groups of unaffiliated individuals.
Marketing should encompass the expectations of your target audience, or TA, including the channels you use to advertise. Contacting and visiting schools, fairs, and posting on social media would be an excellent place to start. Print material, personal calls, and important events should be added to the marketing funnel to further the communication between the school and the interested student. This is why working with high school counselors is a crucial step on the college admissions path.
There are students aware of your university and its fields of study, and those that are not. This creates two target audiences (TAs) that you will need to create an initial connection with. Students want to be successful on their career paths, and expect that their top pick school will offer a base level of benefits and amenities that align with their values while studying at said institution. High school counselors are the first line of contact for matching targeted students with your offered programs and informing them of what the school has to offer.
Additional means of reaching counselors and prospective students include:
- Pay-per-click on search engines
- Mobile device marketing
- Social media
- Emails with content to pique interest or provide contact information and support materials
- Search engine optimization of your websites
- Printed materials, fairs, and open house opportunities
The more visual or multimedia any of your promotional materials can be will lead to more interested students and more targeted eyes. Supplied materials for digital and physical ads should be more memorable than your competitors, and allow counselors to give clear and identifiable information for students channeling towards your admissions funnel.
Once you receive requests for more information (or inquiries), content marketing in the form of events, print and email materials, social media, and personal calls must be initialized to engage interested prospects. High school counselors and students alike should be delighted by your postcards, viewbooks, open house events, and webinars while searching for more information. Specific marketing material for your organization should be developed through testing, polls, and feedback before launch. For additional ideas, working with high school counselors can give you direct feedback on what materials work best with the demographic of students they have available.
Receiving an application from a student because of a counselor’s guidance is a great sign of progress, but this does not mean that the student is officially a member of your organization. You are one of their top choice institutions, but applications may still be in the works for other schools. Be available to the students throughout each application step to prove that your school is worthy of gaining their trust. Many of the same means of marketing as noted in inquiries can be used here. Adding a personalized touch will make a world of difference for the student with multiple submitted applications.
Admissions and Confirmations – Leading to Enrollments
Student admissions are those that have applied to your school, but are still pending confirmation of acceptance. Student confirmations are those that have accepted your offer to attend the school, but have not made a financial commitment. Finally, enrolled students are those that have fully committed to attend the school through a financial commitment such as a deposit. Financial aid opportunities will play a vital role in getting a full commitment. Don’t forget to continue personally communicating with the prospective students via email, social media, events, and value-driven phone calls.
Enrollments and Retention
Official enrollment in your organization is counted only after the student has made an initial deposit. However, a myriad of reasons can cause student bleed throughout the course of the college semester. Common reasons that students will drop out of an admissions funnel include:
- Financial insecurity
- Change of path, trade, or profession
- Change of school
- Confusing enrollment process
- Feelings of exclusion
To combat the loss of leads, provide some school swag such as a mug or t-shirt to entice the student to continue becoming a part of the family. Ensure that hotlines or call centers are always ready to take questions and guide students along a set route complete with knowledgeable professionals. Finally, utilize a high number of surveys and questionnaires to continuously improve the process over time.
When a high number of students follow through with your college admissions funnel, the positive impact on your organization will be visible from all sides. By identifying the types of desired students and working with high school counselors in your educational sphere, your enrollment channels will increase in size, effectiveness, and productivity.