College Recruiting from the Teen Perspective (Part Two)

This is the second part of the TeensTALK recap from the Stamats Integrated Marketing Conference. In Part One, we discussed a few themes the panel found to be important during the college admissions process. In short, the students identified and expressed their approval of personal methods of recruitment. For Part Two, we are highlighting the actual marketing mediums used by admissions, to see what students thought of direct mail, email, text messaging, and Facebook. Are you making any of the mistakes below?

When You Recruit – Watch What You Send

For many universities, the best way to get students’ attention is to send information through different channels. The problem with this type of method is that it can result in impersonal communication. In this case, students negatively responded to using email as a tool of mass communication. Often it caused frustration when they received the same message again and again, so much it reflected an image of desperation on the institution. One student stated it even made him “dehumanized” after he continuously received mail with no indication that the school cared for him as an individual. He continued by stating schools “didn’t take into account my opinions, they just took into account that I didn’t get it enough times.” When a single student receives upwards of 2,400 college-related emails while in high school, it may be time to rethink the way you communicate with them.

Don’t Text or ‘Facebook Me’

When asked if it was appropriate for prospective schools to contact them via Facebook or text, students responded with a resounding no. One student shared her experience with a college recruiter who sent her a text almost every day. Simply put, she didn’t appreciate it at all. They tend to appreciate Facebook messages, but only after they were accepted and enrolled. Even then it’s a sensitive subject, as many would prefer to keep their Facebook interaction student-to-student and receive information from Facebook Pages or Groups.

Don’t Just Sit There Twiddling Your Thumbs – Go To Them

For many, college fairs are not only be the best way to get information about schools, but also the most effective during the college admissions process. With that being said, it is important for recruiters to remember to stand out, be open, and friendly. Recruiters who avoid eye contact, stand silent, and only have a stack of papers at their booth, will fall to the wayside. A recurring theme during the panel discussion was the importance of student-to-student interaction. One student shared how she enjoyed booths that had both student(s) and a recruiter. It allowed her the opportunity to inquire about student life with currently enrolled students and then approach the recruiter for academic-type questions.

Websites Matter

It’s important to remember that your site is where students will usually get their first impression of you school. As one student phrased it, “all of us are always on our computers, if you haven’t realized yet.” Sites that were easy to navigate and organized tabs for prospective, current, and graduate students were very helpful during the process. Places where you can ask questions or find answers on FAQ pages were useful tools for prospective students.

I hope you found this panel worthwhile. If you were not able to attend the conference, I highly recommend you watch the recorded session done by Higher Ed Live.