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5 Higher Ed Student Recruitment Tips from the Pros

field with whiteboard soccer play overlayed

Pushing it over the line. Hitting goals. A slam dunk. You probably hear these terms and think of watching your favourite professional sport. But where else do you hear them all the time? We’d bet you hear them a lot in higher ed student recruitment when you land the prospect students you want – and watch them graduate.

So where are we going with this? As part of Unibuddy 2022, we caught up with Jeff Green, Director of Admissions at Texas A&M University School of Law, to understand the crossovers between athletic and academic recruitment, how the pros recruit dream list student athletes and what we can apply to our own higher ed recruitment programs to be more competitive, more personable and, ultimately, more successful.

See his full presentation here.

Here are five higher ed recruitment tips we took away from Green’s presentation:

1. Your higher ed recruitment funnel is your playbook 

Coaches know their team rosters inside and out, from a goalie’s save percentage to how well their defence stacks up with competitors. But they also know their weaknesses, gaps or areas where they can win even better with the right talent. And, in higher ed recruitment, according to Green, this is your recruitment funnel.

Related: Unibuddy and Slate: Bringing Improved CRM Functionality and Visibility

From prospect students to enrollment, deposits and beyond, your higher ed recruitment funnel is the most accurate, data-backed, resource you have to configure success. By appending recruitment data to every step in your process, you can see and back the bigger pictures of where you succeed, where you struggle and where you can improve and project future student recruitment potential.

2. Win on the recruitment road 

Coaches inject data into every play they make on their recruitment roads. They know where their school fits in the higher ed ecosystem. Know who and where their competition are strong. They know their targets. They have built relationships and fences around their territories. They know where to find their prospects and where and how they can win. 

Related: 5 higher education marketing trends from 2022

Green says embedding this pro tactic into your recruitment tours not only helps cut fat off your budget, but also makes your resulting stops more meaningful, likely to yield results and attainable. He recommends pre-building relationships at target schools before hitting the road to ensure prospects and prospect schools know who you are and how you work – helping build what he calls “fences” to help shore up recruitment territory.

3. Know your resource limits at home 

As the sports classic goes: There is no “i” in “team.” When scoping out your recruitment strategy, always look for ways to stretch more out of the resources you already have right at your fingertips. For higher ed recruitment, says Green, these are your student ambassadors – the best authentic voices you have to champion your brand. 

Related: Want a proven way to engage Gen Z? The magic is in belonging

Consulting your higher ed recruitment funnel, according to Green, can help you identify where student ambassadors can help. You might, for example, have limited budget and resources to attract international students. With a peer-to-peer, student-to-student, solutions, like Unibuddy Chat or Unibuddy Community, you can enable connections between prospective students from all around the world with students at your higher ed institution who hail from their region, speak their language and know the right answers to their questions.

4. Prospect students are your blue chip athletes 

Recruiting athletes is a delicate dance, a dance, according to Green, which needs to be adopted by all higher ed recruitment. At the top of their game, athletes need to be wined and dined to show them how far you might go to convince them your school is a winner. In addition to showing them how much you value them, building relationships with authentic touchpoints shows them you genuinely want them to sign with you. 

Related: What makes a great digital student ambassador?

Green says recruiters from all areas of higher ed need to make the best effort they can to treat each and every prospect student as if they are a blue chip athlete. But, if you cannot provide a personal house call to every prospect, you can scale authentic connections with the right digital higher ed recruitment platform, like the solutions we offer at Unibuddy. Enabling connections with student ambassadors can help your team reach thousands of prospect students without losing that personal touch.

5. Show them the money with ROI

Great coaches don’t stop planning once all their pieces are in play. They keep close tabs on those they recruit, those they didn’t and those who they still feel they can get. As with planning their recruitment strategy, says Green, these coaches feed data into their subsequent season to help inform future plays. 

Related: The next generation of student recruitment: Global insights from higher education recruitment professionals

For the rest of higher ed recruitment should continue to ask what additional ways they can “show the money” or, in other words, show where they win. The tried and tested way to do this, according to Green, is to continue tracking higher ed recruitment funnel metrics to shed visibility on what is working, what did not and where you can improve for next time.

See Green’s full presentation and more on-demand as part of Unibuddy Connect 2022. 

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