It wasn’t that long ago that I worked for a college president who would lightheartedly lament May 1 as the day that the mercurial decisions of 17-19 year olds could determine the fate of an institution (or at least its financial wellbeing). College enrollment success is by no means an easy feat at any time, but in these uncertain days, anticipating its achievement is especially fraught with concern.
I suspect no small number of admissions professionals would joyfully embrace that familiar unpredictability if it were the only unknown during this recruitment cycle. Now we have new uncertainties compounding existing uncertainty. Challenging, yes. But it’s also a great reminder that connecting with students amidst ever-changing circumstances has been at the heart of recruitment, admissions, and enrollment for a very long time.
Every cycle–pandemic or not–demands ingenuity, persistence, empathy, and a willingness to meet students wherever they are. In our work with college and universities admissions teams, we’ve seen the brilliantly creative ways schools have used to bring campus community and culture to students, build relationships, and turn uncertainty into recruitment success.
We’ve helped a school’s multi-phase, multi-channel outreach and recruitment strategy build personal relationships and tangible connections with students at every stage of the funnel. We’ve seen a college celebrate its unique community and give committed students a way to show their pride beyond social media. And we’ve helped a college get bits of culture into admitted students’ hands with simple, memorable, poignant outreach. These stories show schools, each with a profound understanding of who they serve, creating impactful moments through swag that spark interest, capture imagination, and point to a brighter future.
We’re lucky to work with some great institutions that, through their work, make it easy to stay optimistic about this and future recruitment cycles. There is a lot to admire in the ways our clients, undaunted by endless obstacles, have stayed true to the purpose behind their work, and continue to achieve college enrollment success in spite of circumstantial adversity.
One thing’s for certain. The world needs it.
by Tim Jones