Yield Season, not "Wait and See" Season

February, March and April are three of the most important months in college admissions and recruitment offices. You’ve built your applicant pool and sent out admission packages, but how exactly are you engaging this group of students from mid-winter until May 1?  (Or June 1, or even later, in some cases.) Are any real conversations and interactions taking place, or is your admitted student pool just “out there” quietly awaiting your next e-mail about a spring open house?

If you really need to reach an enrollment goal, if you continuously lose too many students to your competitors, then you might need to beef up your office’s wintertime outreach activity to each and every admitted student, and maybe even to some “outliers” who have not yet applied.  This doesn’t mean sending out a few more e-mail blasts. It’s time for the recruiters to really step up to the plate.

What are some practical, important reasons to contact students at this point in the recruitment cycle? Here are just a few that come to mind:

  • Remind students about FAFSA filing. A well-trained admission staff can walk students and their parents through the process, provide encouragement, and help determine affordability.
  • Encourage the ever-important campus visit. Point families to your web pages to register for open houses. Offer to meet them personally.
  • Has a student already visited?  Make that follow-up contact to see which questions may still be unanswered. How can you address any lingering uncertainties?
  • Are financial award packages already making their way to families’ mailboxes? Recruiters should follow up on the award letters, making sure families have received and understand the awards, and directing them to proper persons for answers to more detailed aid questions.
  • Talk to students about the timing of “next steps” in the enrollment process: the May 1 deposit, orientation information, placement testing.
  • Check in with students (or parents) periodically to learn about objections or impediments that are making the decision difficult.  Listen to the answers. Jump the hurdles with them. Offer assistance in finding solutions. Families will be appreciative of this effort.

Spread the love! In this age of information clutter, I believe that students and parents still enjoy personal attention from a recruiter, whatever avenues you choose to utilize for this purpose-- social media, Skype conversations, e-mail, phone calls, or even hand-written note cards. Require staff to set a certain amount of time aside each day or evening for this activity. And not just “one and done” follow-up. Track the activities to find out which students are paying attention and responding, and then reach out again appropriately. Solicit help from others on campus for outreach projects. Points for creativity!

Good recruiters realize that this work requires tenacity. There is no magic formula, and some students still cannot or will not enroll at your college despite your best efforts. In the end though, attention to detail pays off. You will definitely enroll many more students using a hands-on approach, rather than just allowing three months of wait-and-see.

Happy recruiting!  (Hey, May 1 also means warm weather!)

Karen Full