What’s the Best Way to Improve Yield for Admissions?

Universities spend considerable time and resources to get students interested in their institution every year.

With each stage in the admissions cycle, comes a new opportunity for administrators to connect with potential students and help them make the right choice for their future.

Last week at the New England Association for Admissions Counselors, Jessica Winthrop-Oney and Eric Schmigle from Roger Williams University held an interactive presentation around which yield strategies are most effective to help shape and welcome each year’s incoming class.

My favorite part of the session was their use of Poll Everywhere which enabled the audience to vote on which yield strategies they find most effective.

Presentation Summary and Live Polling Results

Are you using Yield Strategies?

 Not surprisingly, a majority of the 70 participants reported using yield strategies this past admissions cycle. However, when asked how long they had been using digital yield strategies we learned this is a relatively new endeavor for admissions offices.

How long have you been using digital yield strategies?

Important to note none of the institutions reported using digital yield strategies for 5 or more years.

“Making Calls” was the most popular yield strategy used to engage students. While every school utilized a different approach (most used a mix of current students, faculty, alumni, or admissions staff making calls) some schools decided their yield calls weren’t worth the time or effort and no longer invested in them.

This was in stark contrast to one school who described yield season as an “all hands on deck, campus-wide initiative from the president to the facility workers and everyone in between.”

What type of phone campaigns does your institution use?

What do Students Think of the Calls?

While some students are not necessarily excited to hear from schools (some counselors reported being hung up on multiple times) a majority of the schools present felt there were always a group of students who benefited from these calls.

When polling their students, the University of Massachusetts-Lowell reported 75% of their matriculating students said they were positively affected when they were reached out to on behalf of a current student.

Digital Yield Strategies – Facebook, Email, Texting, Oh My!

Using email, online content, or social media is another way to provide a personal touch to admitted students, while freeing up the time-intensive activity of phone calling.

One of the most popular tools used is Facebook, as schools used Facebook Pages, Groups and private communities such as Schools App for their admitted class. Although this was not shared in the NEACAC presentation, our latest research found the following breakdown for which type of admissions presence a college should have on Facebook.

Where Everyone Agreed

While there was much debate about when to call students, who should call students and if this was beneficial or not, there were some strategies that everyone agreed upon. One of these was text messaging, which only 6% reported using and 94% said they didn’t use.

When asked about the volume of emails colleges send students, most reported they sent “way too many” or “anything and everything you can think of.” One of the best practices shared within the group was to always send two different email campaigns to admitted students, one to the student and a similar one targeted towards their parents.

In the end, the exact best practices for yield are still being developed. Every school is different, but without a solid measurement foundation in place in the form of a CRM or Social Enrollment Management tool, you’ll never know where your efforts are worthwhile, or where you are wasting your time.

What yield strategies are you finding most effective? Share your thoughts below.