Enrolling the fall class of 2020 is proving to be one of the most intense and difficult experiences in recent memory for many institutions across the country. Everyone in higher education is facing the same uncertainty: “fall enrollment”. Furloughs have been implemented all over, and now enrollment management budgets are being reduced as a result of “all of the above.” Yet again enrollment managers are going to be asked to do “More With Less”.
Having Less (in terms of staff, budget, and overall resources) but with the expectation to meet and hopefully surpass 2021 enrollment goals, is going to be a tall order for any enrollment management team. Knowing that the marketplace for students will soon be More competitive than ever before, now is not the time to ease up on the gas pedal on the drive to attract new students. A change in strategy for recruiting the new student class of 2021 and beyond is most certainly a part of any successful recruitment plan given that in-person interaction will be changed for the foreseeable future. This means reducing operational capacity for your enrollment management division, is like being down in the final minutes of a game and sending your coach and couple of your best players to the locker room before the game is over while still expecting to win.
This rush to reinvent strategic communications will not come without some serious planning. All student search programs (internal or via an outside partner) should involve a few standard elements such as direct mail, email, phone calls, and digital campaigns. These touches are put in place to engage students at each level of the traditional enrollment funnel and move them along accordingly. These efforts are extremely critical given the new virtual recruitment age. We are in a place where More strategic communications With Less in-person interactions with prospective students is now going to be the new norm. Are you ready for that?
Will there be reduced travel… sure. Will there be reduced campus visits… definitely. However, this is a moment to think Less of reduction of budgets in either area and More about reallocation of funds to be absolutely intentional in marketing to prospective freshmen and transfer students. This does not mean that more frequent emails with the same message are the right move or, quite frankly, strategic in any way. Traditionally there has been a fine balance of just the right type of messaging, calls to action, and the actual number of messages sent to prospective students. Even though we are dealing with a crisis that will rock the industry for years to come as 2021 could prove to be worse if you are not actively addressing additional marketing needs.
Instead of doing “More With Less”, think about doing “More Because Of Less”…