Student Search: Dealing with the Dwindling Name Dilemma

For the past year or two, my colleagues at Capture, especially my good friend Jack Klett who lives in the Graduate Enrollment space, kept saying to me: “Student search is not a viable tool in the long run. With schools going test optional, students aren’t going to take tests as much anymore.” 

I would often find myself disagreeing with them — sometimes internally, sometimes not — using arguments like these (among others):

  • State contracts with standardized test providers are too prolific to simply dissipate.
  • Secondary schools rely too heavily on the metrics that standardized tests provide.
  • The growth rate of test optional schools is too low to push student search out of the higher ed enrollment mix.

But 2020 has put a wrinkle in the “slow roll” of the test-optional growth rate (my third argument). And, if this growth rate continues to expand, it will easily put more pressure on the first two arguments. Inside Higher Ed, in a story about recent findings by FairTest, reported:

“Eighty-five percent of the 100 top liberal arts colleges (according to U.S. News & World Report) will be test optional this year … and the comparable figure for research universities is 55%.”

What does this mean for student search? For starters, it shows that looking at and testing out new sources for student search are paramount for institutions that use this tool for building and/or maintaining market presence.

This was one of the topics I discussed during Capture’s recent webinar, “Summer Session: Strategies to Reengergize Student Search and Email Marketing.”   During the presentation, I was joined by Capture Director of Communication Strategy Anna Havrilesko to talk about how to gain exclusive access to non-test associated leads for your institutions. We also talked about how to execute effective email outreach based on student behaviors, which generates a 2x response rate, as well as other ways to set the stage for a successful 2021.

By Jamie Gleason, Director of Undergraduate Initiatives, Capture