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Enrollment Marketing for Higher Education

There was a time when colleges and universities rarely advertised. I remember because that’s when I began an enrollment marketing agency, in 1986.

Faith and pride in the product was strong then, as was the number of college-bound high school graduates. Six hundred clients since means enrollment marketing has been essential to higher ed, especially as competition for a shrinking number of students escalates.

The pandemic of course has escalated that competition tenfold. Admission teams are under increased scrutiny and pressure to meet enrollment goals while dealing with budget cuts and the plague of the century. Articulating the value of a college degree and adapting to the new environment of recruiting is paramount, both for Fall 2021 and for each class after that. All of us are recruiting a highly informed self-service generation.

Our solutions have evolved for the world our prospects now live in and how they are living in that world, which as we all know changed dramatically in 2020. With about 2.5 % of colleges in the U.S. solely being in-person this fall, the traditional college experience has shifted, and will continue to shift long after COVID-19 recovery.

What is needed for enrollment success now?

Efficiency in recruiting to build your 2021 class in this new environment, differentiating your brand, and articulating your value. Higher ed is adjusting to marketplace disruptions, but how prospects find you, or don’t find you, and how you engage with them where they are in that moment is everything. Examining your enrollment marketing strategy, from outside your inner circle that has been inundated with COVID-19 crisis management, is where to start.

The seismic change in our industry points to virtual and online elements becoming expected in the college experience, both in recruiting and as an enrolled student.  And while the value of a college education seems under duress right now; we also know a college education means much more than just academics.

The best place to recruit to campus had been the campus itself. Without that full access right now for tours, open houses, admitted student days, and high school recruiting fairs, there must be new thinking and new strategy.  As thousands of students across the country mask up, abide protocols, and encounter health and safety risks, campus life continues to represent where students can begin to become someone new, someone better.

I felt fortunate to be able to move my own daughter safely back to campus this semester. For many, the college experience is about more than academics alone and future generations have been formed from relationships made outside the classroom, living on their own, figuring out schedules, and becoming responsible for themselves. We know colleges and universities have worked diligently to begin this fall semester through intense planning of what they can control to continue to offer a quality experience.

As a firm committed to higher ed, we are supporting partners with successful enrollment marketing and admissions recruiting strategy. Our partners saw the benefits of strategic planning this fall when enrollment goals and marketing goals were achieved, thanks to our Assessments, which offer new thinking on Admissions and Marketing, SEO and Website, and Paid Media Budgeting. Chaos may have come to your campus, but now it’s time to invite your strongest strategy. We’re open to setting up free consultation to help you get started on your solution. Fill out the form below to get started.

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