Colleges and universities rely heavily on high enrollment numbers to fuel their programs and maintain their campuses. Over time, student recruitment policies evolve — not necessarily to suit the school, but rather to align with the ways in which students prefer to communicate. The last few years have proved that technology has played a critical role in the ways in which schools attract potential students.
Social Media Has Become an Instrumental Tool in Student Recruitment
In 2014, the Guardian covered a study of 69 UK-based universities that took the temperature of various student recruitment activities and policies. According to the study, 98 percent of respondents felt that social media was more critical to student engagement than it was five years previously.
Social media continues to take center stage in higher education marketing. Savvy schools know that the best way to reach potential students is to join them in their comfort zone. Simon Pride, head of Arts University Bournemouth’s marketing program, told the Guardian, “Social medial should not be used as a form of advertising, but as a tool to engage. You have to invest in the stories you place there, whether that be capturing and celebrating the student experience or creating apps like kscope which are designed to provoke that engagement.”
In other words, schools can’t just post advertisements on Facebook or requests for re-tweets on Twitter. Instead, they must start meaningful conversations on social media and tell stories that captivate their intended audience.
Schools Are Far More Vulnerable Than Ever Before
The Internet has effectively stripped down the barrier that used to exist between institutions of higher learning and the students who might eventually matriculate within them. Students can conduct copious research on the schools that interest them most, which means schools have to use technology to control the narratives about their institutions.
Lifecycle marketing consultant Lauren Littlefield points out that technology has forced colleges and universities to become more transparent. They now must put themselves out there to attract students and to engage with prospective students on a more personal level.
She also asserts that technology has sped up the recruitment process. With automation solutions at every school’s disposal, it becomes far easier to keep up with administrative tasks so that recruiters can focus on making more profound connections with prospects.
Information Technology Influences In-Person Events
Despite the Internet’s availability, most college and university recruiters agree that in-person events still matter in student recruitment. However, technology can play a role in generating interest about these events and creating interactive experiences for prospective students.
According to Georgian College Associate Professor Wayne John Brown, technology’s rise to prominence has given a greater role to each school’s IT department. Recruiters and admissions professionals must work closely with IT experts to ensure all campaigns are cohesive and well-aligned with one another.
Technology will continue to become increasingly important for student recruitment. Understanding how technology works and how it impacts admissions will help schools boost enrollment in both the short- and the long-term.