Co-written with Andrea Gilbert.
When talking about student search, campuses usually think about search campaigns for high school sophomores and juniors. However, colleges and universities can also have success generating applications and enrollment with a focused senior search.
In many respects, a senior search is very similar to a traditional search for sophomores and juniors. You buy fresh names of seniors, develop a search campaign for them, and engage as many inquiries as possible. At the same time, the compressed period for a senior search does require campuses to adjust their traditional search strategies as there is much less time for relationship building. The list purchase in particular needs to be comprised of qualified leads who can quickly turn into inquiries, applicants, and enrolled students.
I can illustrate an effective senior search campaign by discussing how one of our Noel-Levitz Direct marketing campus partners, Midwestern State University, conducted one.
Building a qualified senior list through predictive modeling
Midwestern State University is a regional four-year institution that, prior to working with us, had declining local enrollment. It suffered from limited brand awareness and was squeezed between two large metropolitan markets that were within a two-hour drive. The campus had an immediate need to boost enrollment, which meant increasing the application pool as quickly as possible. A senior search would be an ideal strategy.
However, given budgets and the shortened time frame of a senior search, campuses have to be very strategic about the names that they buy. Frankly, we do not recommend conducting a senior search without some kind of predictive modeling qualification. Predictive modeling allows an institution to use advanced statistical analytics to assess the likelihood of a prospective student enrolling. For a senior search, this means a campus can zero in on prospects who have a good chance of not only applying, but enrolling if accepted, which makes for a much stronger list purchase.
That’s what Midwestern State did. They used the Noel-Levitz SMART Approach system, which applies a predictive model to the data-rich NRCCUA database of high school students. This allowed them to cultivate names that had a higher propensity to enroll and that had other desired characteristics as well. Not only did Midwestern State use this method to uncover senior prospects in their traditional markets, they also found students in new markets they would have otherwise overlooked.