By Evan Grenier, Senior Analyst
Soon, college applicants will be logging on to their student portals and hitting the “reload” button, as they wait anxiously for decisions. Once all these decisions have been rendered, colleges enter yield season and work to finalize their Class of 2019. This is a critical time for these schools. For many of them, even a 0.5% increase or decrease in yield can make or break their financial picture for the year ahead.
A key component of the courting process is the on-campus admitted student event. Since two-thirds of admitted students apply to at least five colleges, most families will likely attend more than one such event and use these visits to help make their final decision. As colleges continue to face decreases in yield percentages and increases in budgetary restraints, it has become more important than ever to provide admitted students with positive and differentiated yield event experiences to influence enrollment decisions.
Eduventures’ Survey of Admitted Students provides unique insight into the enrollment decisions of more than 30,000 admitted students, including what prospective students themselves are looking for (see Figure 1). From this data, we’ve highlighted five ways to improve yield through admitted student events.
1. Facilitate interaction with faculty.
When we ask admitted students what could have improved their visit, the top response among those who ranked their campus visit “average” or lower is “more interaction with faculty.” Faculty members are the stars of the show. A college cannot effectively present the strength of its academics to admitted families without faculty support. Just like you wouldn’t buy a car without taking it out for a test drive, most admitted students want to be comfortable with who they would be learning from before making their college decision.
2. Showcase current students.
We know that a “feeling of fit” and “sense of community” on campus are two of the top enrollment drivers for admitted students. Don’t take the risk of only allowing an admitted student the opportunity to meet their tour guide. Instead, allow admitted students to have multiple personal interactions with current students during the event. The more current students they meet, the greater the chance that they’ll relate on a personal level. These student touch-points can drive the feeling of fit and sense of community.
3. Add major-specific programming.
Eduventures data shows that while making their college decision, only 5% of students state that they “don’t know” what they’d like to study. While we know that many students will enroll with an undeclared major or will change majors along the way, the data shows that students think they know their major when they make enrollment decisions. Therefore, ensure that admitted students are able to learn about the strengths of their chosen program in depth during their time on campus.
4. Personalize the experience.
Gen Z students—including the Class of 2019— have grown up bombarded with sophisticated marketing messages and that experience has shaped their expectations of their college search. CRM tools allow colleges to track student preferences and design segmented communications tailored to each individual student. Before campus events, it is important to use these tools to ensure that admissions staff and faculty know which admitted students will be visiting and provide faculty with registrant lists that include intended majors and identify scholarship recipients so they can connect. Once they are on campus, engage admitted students in meaningful conversations about details provided in their application and point out specific ways that they are a good fit for your community.
5. Don’t let them get lost.
For many students and their families, even getting to campus can be stressful. Small things like providing the schedule for the event via email and supplying registrants with the correct GPS address can make a big difference. When on campus, registration and check-in areas should visibly stand out on the outside of the building. Invest in wayfinding signs to direct traffic between buildings and enlist as many students as possible to walk groups to their destination. Don’t let the day stop when guests leave campus; showcase highlights of the local community through interactive tools, like Foursquare, Facebook, and Instagram, and allow students to follow along using an established hashtag.
This month, Eduventures is kicking-off our 2015 Annual Survey of Admitted Students. We encourage all Wake-Up Call readers to have their institutions take part in this survey. Participants receive a complimentary report detailing their students’ responses and a 30 minute advisory session comparing response rates to national averages. In our survey, we ask key questions that will help you identify what motivates and influences student decision–making. Organizations can create marketing messages that better resonate with admitted students, ultimately increasing yield. To have your college included in our survey, contact Evan Grenier, at email@example.com.