Imagine your ideal prospective freshman. Picture her standing with a group of friends or sitting alone with ear buds in, doing whatever it is that post-millennials do.
As a student whose name was purchased in your latest PSAT buy, she is not facing you. Instead, she’s consumed with life as a teenager. Your job, as an enrollment manager, is to figure out how to communicate with that student in a way that results in her enrolling at your institution.
The model of freshman recruitment that has been sold to higher education would tell you to do the following:
- Grab a foam ball from a bucket that your consultant has placed at your feet. This ball represents your carefully crafted, initial marketing message. Throw it at the student in hopes that she will simply look your way and somehow, fall in love with your institution.
- When the prospective student doesn’t flinch, do not panic. Grab the second ball and throw it. This is to be expected; it usually takes a few.
- Throw another.
- Then another.
- And another.
- Hold up. You know what it is? This segment of students like green-colored balls and you’ve been throwing red ones. Time to switch strategies and go green. This generation likes everything green. Go ahead. Throw it.
- And again, and another.
- We’re running out of time here, grab the whole bucket and dump it over her head.
- Still nothing? We thought so. New research just published in a white paper seems to indicate that teenagers are distractible and mistrusting of foam balls being thrown at them and/or being dumped on their heads. Change formats and begin throwing baseballs.
- If this doesn’t work, try bowling balls. If that doesn’t work . . .
Now imagine 10 of your fiercest competitors, all being consulted to do likewise. Imagine all of the balls lying at the feet of your most ideal, prospective student and consider the cost of each of them, in dollars, in human time invested, and in squandered good will between your institution and your prospective student.
You can do better.
There are more efficient, effective and progressive ways to succeed in freshman recruitment based upon real-time behavior—not post-time, student-reported data—using demographic, socioeconomic and behavioral data.
This is the future of freshman recruitment for colleges and universities.. It’s time to start throwing the correct-colored ball to the student who is looking at you and ready to catch it.
by: Thom Golden, Ph.D., vice president of data science at Capture Higher Ed