For the past 20-plus years, Noel-Levitz has conducted surveys to determine the best practices in the field of enrollment management for four-year private and public institutions, as well as for two-year public institutions. Once again, in April 2011, a 97-item survey was released to identify what works and what doesn’t work so well in the areas of marketing and student recruitment. (Watch for a separate study forthcoming on best practices in student retention.)
This year’s findings for recruitment and marketing show that activities that encourage more extensive relationships with staff and students of the institution, as well as those that encourage students to take action, are viewed as the most effective practices for institutions to utilize. The findings also identify several common practices which are used at many institutions and deemed very effective.
Top practices, including unique differences by sector
Not surprisingly, the most effective practices across institution types (four-year and two-year, public and private) included:
- Offering opportunities for students to visit campus.
- Using current students in the recruitment process.
- Encouraging students to use the Web to apply.
Although there was a lot of agreement on the top practices, there were also unique differences by institution type. For example, effective practices for four-year institutions included telecounseling, which was ranked much lower by two-year public institutions. Interestingly, telecounseling is only being used by about 70 percent of four-year privates and by about 60 percent of four-year publics. An activity viewed effective for four-year privates but least utilized among these institutions was calls by financial aid staff, with only 29 percent of respondents indicating they used this strategy.
One of the top practices for four-year public institutions is the development of community college articulation agreements. In addition, the ability to make on-the-spot admissions decisions was deemed highly effective by many four-year public and two-year public institutions, though fewer than half of these respondents reported using this practice.
Top practices for two-year public community colleges included:
- Offering institutional loans directly to students, judged highly effective but used by just 30 percent of respondents from this sector; and
- College-sponsored trips to campus for prospective students, also rated very effective but used by just 48 percent of respondents.
In addition to the items that were viewed as effective, there were a number of practices that were judged to be very ineffective. The survey indicated that many of the institutions, regardless of type, have identified ineffective practices and are making decisions not to include them in their recruitment practices. Among the practices deemed not effective and not being used by many institutions were:
- Telephone directory ads
- Listings in commercially published directories
- RSS/XML feeds
In the case of four-year privates, listings in commercially published directories, although ranked among the least effective practices, were still being used by 55 percent of the institutions.
This research indicates a number of excellent practices that should be part of a campus recruitment program, as well as those you might want to carefully evaluate. In an environment where we need to carefully deploy the limited resources we have, this type of data can prove invaluable in designing our future recruitment and marketing initiatives and plans.
Questions? Want to discuss how to use these findings to strengthen your marketing and recruitment plans? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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