15 Creative Ways Colleges Can Recruit More Students

Christina Diecidue

Marketing Project Coordinator

Savvy marketing is nothing new for colleges and universities that have always had new and exciting tricks up their sleeves. Whether it was the ultimate campus visit or a well-designed marketing package, colleges and universities have overcome their stiff competition by being on the front end of marketing trends. Today is no different. With social media and advancements in technology, there are even more options for creativity and originality. Finding what tactics fit your school may be the hardest part of it all. But at least you never have to be short on ideas!

Let’s take a look at 15 creative ways your college can recruit more students.

1. Be Selective

More schools are becoming very selective on the students they accept into their program. This may seem to be counterproductive - don’t you want to appeal to a wide range of students?

The key is finding an ideal student persona that will benefit from your program and be likely to succeed. This will boost your numbers and breed desire. Students that do apply for your school will be more likely to fit the mold of what you’re looking for.

2. Offer Interactive Tours

 

Not every student is in the position to take a campus tour. They may live out of state or have a busy schedule. Offering an interactive tour gives these students the opportunity to explore your campus at their convenience. This option also shows students that you understand their position but are still happy to get information to them.

3. Create a Sustainable Environment

Going green is important for today’s generations, and a school that is making steps toward being sustainable earns extra brownie points. Describe ways that your college or university is lowering its carbon footprint by offering green cafeterias, facilities and dorm rooms.

4. Take a Tailored Approach

A 35-year-old student with a family and career will have much different needs than an 18-year-old student leaving home for the first time. Rather than offering a generalized application program, tailor them to the student’s individual needs. Adult applicants will appreciate being understood and viewed differently as their younger peers.

5. Launch Special Programs

Colleges that make a home for certain groups of students will attract more applicants. Consider that some students with ASD are pursuing a college education, yet many higher institutions fail to deliver programs or resources for them. Create a strong program that appeals to these students and watch your numbers (and reputation!) soar.

6. Provide Incentives

Incentives work in the business world, and they work well here, too. The trick is knowing when to use them. You can offer a free iPad to all incoming freshman or gift cards to the bookstore. If you’re not in a position to reward all new students, consider a raffle instead. Or, give a tuition discount for the student who has the next biggest idea. These small incentives can be the tipping point between you and another school.

7. Establish an Online Presence

Students typically take many months to decide on which school is right for them. That’s why it’s important to start building your presence early so that you follow students on their journey. Contribute to your blog regularly, update your website and create short videos. Engage on social media as well.  The more you stay in front of prospective students, the more you look like the school that is there for them.

8. Develop Personal Connections

Thanks to social media, the admissions office can pinpoint individual students that would make good candidates. You can contact these students directly and let them know that they are important and should apply. This one-on-one attention is a nice alternative to the “just a number” mentality.

9. Use Text Marketing

You can probably imagine how many students are on their smartphones day in and day out. Sending a text message is a wonderful way to connect with students and remind them that you’re there. Use the texts to send valuable information about incentives, deadlines and important dates.

10. Exceptional Dorm Rooms

For those living on campus, this is their first time being away from home. Where they will be living is very important. Unfortunately, most freshman dorms have the reputation of being old, smelly and small. Change the viewpoint that people have of your dorms by improving bathrooms, purchasing new furniture and sprucing up common areas.

11. Tuition Freezes

We know you have an institution to run, but it may be possible to offer a tuition freeze. It will certainly be a selling point for students, and it will attract others to at least check out your program. Tuition freezes have been practiced by some schools to increase enrollment, and it’s worked well. At the very least, it can help stabilize enrollment numbers.

12. Setup Virtual College Fairs

Just as some students can’t make it out for a campus tour, some can’t make it to college fairs either. Or at least the one you’re at. So why not expand your presence and go virtual? You can connect with so many students without having to tend a booth at a fair. Have representatives from your school available to answer questions, and offer an incentive for stopping by.

13. Provide Greater Student Support

Students worry about how they will do in college, especially with the high cost of the investment. Show students that you’re there to support them through your well-rounded services. Support services can include tips on improving study habits, organization techniques, preparing for tests and finding an internship. When students see that they will have continued support, they will feel more confident in their investment.

14. Host Hangouts

Google Hangouts is an excellent platform for meeting students face to face. You can introduce staff and faculty, or prospective students can chat with current students about their experience so far. You can host Hangouts on a number of topics - admissions, academics and college life in general - and be accessible for parents as well as students.

15. Offer Accelerated Courses

Today’s society is fast-paced and on-demand, so students interested in getting their degrees don’t want to wait for them. Fortunately, you have the power to create accelerated courses that have students finished up in less time. The work may be more intense and the classes longer, but the overall time spent in college will be shorter.

When it comes to marketing your college or university, the ideas are plentiful. It has been harder for colleges to grow or even stabilize their enrollment numbers in recent years because of the economy, but this shouldn’t deter you from getting out there and connecting with students. Instead, it should entice you to be more creative and personable. College is still a vital part of the career process, so it’s important to show how your school can accommodate these needs and be a promising investment.

About the Author: Christina Diecidue

Christina Diecidue is the Marketing Project Coordinator at SEMGeeks.  She holds a B.S. in Business Administration, with concentrations in marketing, advertising, and web design from Rider University.  Known to be a meticulous worker, Christina values each client's individual goals and works to meet their digital strategy needs accordingly.  With valuable knowledge in higher education, alumni engagement, and leadership, she provides an array of skills to the SEMGeeks team.  In her free time, Christina can be found binge watching repeats of Friends and spending time with her family.

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