Building a successful college student search program requires the right balance of volume, frequency, channels, and engagement strategies. The following tips are working for our campus partners and helping them engage and enroll the students they want.
In these tips, I will also share results from an anonymous poll of enrollment managers who recently attended a webinar on student search. This is not a scientific poll, but I believe the results are illuminating.
Tip #1: Build an appropriate college student search pool for your goals—volume and quality matter
Here’s what the enrollment managers told us about their search volume, and also how much their search pool factors into their final enrollment:
These two questions are important, because among our campus partners:
- Those whose college student search pools are less than 60,000 students have 17 percent of their class come from search.
- Those whose search pool is 110,000 or more have nearly 50 percent of their enrolled students come from search.
So search volume does matter. The “right” volume will vary depending on the goals of each campus, and volume does not always mean more applicants. The key is to make sure you have a large enough pool of high quality so you attract the volume of right applicants you want.
One other thing to consider: Searched students consistently show higher application completion, admit, and retention rates. Our fall 2015 consolidated conversion analysis shows that search accounts for 33 percent of the enrollment for our campus partners.
Tip #2: Study your first-source apps
When we asked our webinar attendees, What percentage of your first-source apps were searched, we had a surprising result: the top answer was “I don’t know.”
This is something that enrollment managers should track. Our consolidated conversion analysis shows that an average of 21 percent of all first-source apps were searched for our campus partners. And the data show that searched first-source apps have higher application completion and admit rates than true first-source apps (those who were not in your search pool).