Use multiple channels for your initial contact with first-generation students
New research from RNL, highlighted below, shows how students want to hear from colleges and universities. In examining the results by subpopulation, we can see how first-generation students want to connect with prospective institutions.
Half of first-generation students said they wanted first contact to come through email, while one-third said direct mail. But 15 percent preferred a phone call via cell or landline, and one in five first-generation seniors said they preferred a phone call as the first contact. These results show that campuses need to reach out to first-generation students across multiple channels so they can connect with as many students as possible.
What do first-generation prospective students want to do after an initial contact?
When it comes to calls to action, 50 percent of first-generation students said they wanted to go to an institution’s website, and 44 percent wanted to conduct research online on their own. This finding has two key implications.
First, make sure your website is accessible to first-generation students and points them to the resources they need on price, affordability, programs of study, and information on the application process.
Second, make sure to check how your institution performs in online rankings. Are you the first result on searches for your campus? Listed on influential college planning sites? Showing up for your key programs of study?
Try to think the way a first-generation student would, someone who may be researching on their own and not have the guidance of parents or guardians who attended college. Make sure they have multiple ways to connect with you and learn more about why they should attend your institution.
For more insights, read our post from interviews with high school guidance counselors on recruiting first-generation students and watch for our forthcoming 2017 report on college student perceptions later this fall.
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