19 February 2021
The top 3 student recruitment strategies for US universities

We’re all searching for strategies to support our student recruitment effort right now. Our aim is to give students the confidence and knowledge to successfully navigate their college experience through this era of never-ending confusion.

Amongst the adversities we face, reaching them remains a challenge – so does standing out in an increasingly competitive crowd.

Here are some of the top tactics universities across the country are using to attract and retain their best students.

Utilize your ambassadors

“Peer-to-peer” is a part of our routine and decision-making process in everyday life. Netflix crowdsources film recommendations through reviews, and we base our vacation plans on TripAdvisor feedback. Facebook even built recommendations into its Groups feature.

So, naturally, it works in higher education for student recruitment and marketing. That’s where student ambassadors come in.

Universities like Marymount Manhattan College have harnessed their current students to act as the best advocates for the university, and share their experiences with prospective students.

They found that connecting admitted students with ambassadors made them more likely to enroll than they were otherwise. In fact, 29% of admitted students who chat with an ambassador go on to deposit.

John Versaci, Admissions Counselor, said: “It’s reduced the workload of our admissions counsellors – and it is giving students a digital link to a current student that is increasing their connection to the school. It’s also a lot more personable. For example, an ambassador answered a question about Open House, and the ambassador could check in after the Open House to see how it went.”

Content by and for students

User-generated content is significantly impactful on decision-making and brand recognition. According to research by Nielsen, 92% of consumers stated they “trust earned media, like UGC, more than any other form of content.”

Using the authenticity that comes from user-generated content is a great way to boost brand trust, and also engage your prospective students.

Universities nationwide are enlisting their students as content creators. They’re digital natives who are more than happy to create impressive content in a range of mediums.

Saint Peter’s University decided to start utilizing student-created content in their marketing efforts. In just a matter of months, they saw 900+ chats, with prospective students from 30 different countries.

Enrollment Marketing Specialist, Evelina Francisco explained: “Our ambassadors enjoy sharing their experiences with their peers. When Unibuddy was introduced we used the blog feature as a selling tool to recruit ambassadors.”

Take events online

You know that your in-person events like Open Houses are the most effective tools for conversion – but have you considered making some of them virtual?

The aim of these virtual events is to connect with your students and create a sense of belonging – providing them with reassurance and guidance on their higher education journey. Making these events digital is a great way to get started with online peer-to-peer. 

In their experience running a fully virtual Open House, Missouri Western State University found that the event was actually a springboard for long-term connections between their ambassadors and prospective students.

“The prospective students who attended the event seemed very actively engaged in both our Zoom sessions and Unibuddy platforms,” Events and New Student Program Coordinator, Melissa Stallbaumer said. “One of the highlights includes a conversation between one prospective student and student ambassador that spanned consistently over the course of 10 days.”

Across education and across all sectors, virtual events are replacing and complementing many events in the calendar. Why? Because when done well, they still deliver that experience, and offer even more that isn’t available offline: more depth and breadth of information, a truly personalized experience and a record of those important conversations.

And, it’s completely accessible. Unlike a traditional event which attracts those within travel distance, a virtual event can bring in students from around the world – including countries you may never have recruited from before.

Did you know that Unibuddy can power all of this, and more?

Book a demo today and see how!


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