4 Must-Haves for Your Student Search Strategy

When it comes to student search, the rules seem to change on a weekly basis. Not only have more schools become test optional, the process of buying student information is changing constantly and dramatically.

For example, earlier this year colleges and universities faced an immediate reduction of up to 40% of names available from College Board.

It all amounts to a new era of student search — one that requires a focused, diversified, and creative approach to investing in the qualified, right-fit prospective students who are most likely to engage with your institution.


Name buying and search processes in today’s landscape requires a neighborhood-level understanding of past applicant behavior. Building accurate predictive models for student search is uncommon in our industry because the input data (i.e., granular historical data on applicant conversions) is difficult and costly to collect, clean, transform, and model.

Recruitment marketing vendors that offer search consulting services without address-level analysis of historical applicants are doing nothing better than throwing darts at a map in the general direction of campus.

To rise above the competition, your institution MUST know, very specifically, where applicants come from to optimize your name-buying strategy.


Not all search strategies are created equal. At Capture Higher Ed, here’s how we help you get the most from your investment in student search:

1. A PROSPECTIVE STUDENT PROFILE: Our enrollment experts and data scientists examine historical applicant conversions, current market trends, and your strategic needs while leveraging machine learning technology to profile your prospective students. This delivers engaged, qualified, right-fit prospective students who will engage with your institution.

2. A COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH: You need a sophisticated approach designed for your enrollment goals, and our comprehensive search strategies include a multi-year data assessment, market segmentation that appends over 150 variables, and name sourcing from Encoura/ACT, College Board, and other entities.

3. A METHODOLOGY: The predictive models that inform Capture’s proprietary software use hundreds of historical, demographic, and behavioral data points, allowing you to pinpoint your successful markets, optimize your search, and help shape your class. Managed by a data science team and powered by machine learning, our predictive models pinpoint students who are most likely to apply to your institution.

4. A TEAM OF EXPERTS: Our team of higher education experts, who know the inner workings of student search, work with your team to understand the actual and aspirational markets and segments that need to be targeted and overlay 3-5 years of historic enrollment data to create a search strategy that will help you meet your enrollment goals.


Building a comprehensive search strategy is just one of the strategic marketing recruitment techniques that will position your team and institution for enrollment success. Do you want to see what else you should be doing? Let Capture’s Ultimate Recruitment Marketing Guide for 2024 and Beyond help you make a plan!

By Kevin Hyde, Senior Content Manager, Capture Higher Ed