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Cheryl HavermannOctober, 3, 20223 min read

Nurturing Students Through the Recruitment Cycle

From the initial contact through attending the first class, every interaction with a prospective student counts. If summer melt chips away at the incoming enrollment class, strengthening relationships early and making meaningful connections is imperative to meeting goals and having a successful recruitment cycle.

Each student has a different awareness level of your institution and meeting the student where they are at in their journey will help admissions staff make connections. Download and read more about Epicosity's 5 Stages of Awareness.

Helping students find the place where they belong also creates connection. Getting students to visit campus is a major indicator of matriculation. They will see first-hand the places and spaces they will occupy as a student. More importantly, they will start to envision themselves as a member of the student body, involved in clubs and organizations, and meeting friends. Every communication with students should have a purpose and be intentional.

Checking in with a call or text

  • Offer them tickets to a theater production or athletic event
  • Invite them to a campus speaker
  • Send them the most recent issue of the campus newspaper

Give the communication a higher level of purpose, send students ways to be and feel connected to campus, help them feel that they are already a member of the campus community.  You have the data about student interests, use it!

Create communities for students to connect with each other and moderate the space. Whether hosted on one of your social media platforms or in your student portal, encourage current students to interact with incoming students. Hold contests and engage with users to keep them active and plugged into campus. Private messaging is another resource for students to ask questions they may not want to call about.

Enlist the help of the alumni office. Using data, match alumni with students geographically and include them in the communication plan with a letter or email sent on their behalf. Focus on campus involvement and outcomes.  

Students, and parents alike, want to know that when they enroll at your school that someone is there to support them. They've all heard that faculty have office hours and to see their advisor about classes, what they will need are extra resources to get them through the rest of their college experience.

After a student pays their deposit they begin to get a "to do list" and the admissions representative hands off the student to other departments such as housing, financial aid or the business office.  Up to this point, admissions has been their "go to", their BFF. They've spent months building trust with this person and now they're just expected to start talking to another person?  It is important to connect prospective students with other campus departments, they have important information to share. However, the transition can be handled more effectively than just giving students a phone number. Bring these departments into the conversation early in the recruitment cycle.

Organizing a team representing these offices for incoming students will give the departments a face and a name. Specialized groups of students such as TRIO, athletes, honors, international students etc..., have dedicated people to assist with these processes. Students who don't fall into a group such as those often don't know where to turn, think of this as a retention strategy rather than recruitment. Parents especially, want to know that their student will be taken care of when they aren't there to help them. 

Spread out the onslaught of forms and tasks, don't wait for the 90 days prior to class starting. Start early and engage with students to avoid feelings of frustration over paperwork. Students who feel comfortable with all the people in the roles leading up to their first day of class will complete their steps, create connections and have less reason to melt.

There are many methods colleges and universities use to communicate with students. Stop to think, are you really connecting with students, are you making that intentional interaction with them that is bringing them into your student community or are you talking at them. 

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