Nov 29, 2017 By G. John Cole
Nobody talks much about the pre-admission stage of student recruitment, but in fact, it is one of the most sensitive moments in the recruitment process: the 6-12 month window before enrolment, in which prospective students will hopefully progress from their initial search to signing on the dotted line.
Everything an institution does during this process will be held to closer scrutiny than usual – and will be reflected in a potential student’s overall impression of the school.
You're no longer one university among many. You’re the school to which a student (and her family) are considering to commit. The pre-admission period is the first chance the prospective student will have to see how the school works on the inside. Your online profile (whether the school’s name will be prominent in search results), how you handle inquiries, and how you maintain levels of communication while you grow a prospective student’s interest, will all affect the reach your campaign has and its success rate at converting inquiries into enrolments.
High-quality levels of communication between departments and between school and student can make all the difference to that first impression. Response time needs to be swift and to cater to the preferences of the student, for example with the use of direct messaging, which is both quick and personal.
You may be dealing with students from a wide range of cultural and geographic backgrounds, and this requires tact and adaptability on a massive scale. It’s well worth the effort. Faculties that show they are equipped to deal with their students sensitively and efficiently during pre-admissions are likely to convince those students that this is representative of the administrative processes they will encounter during their study.
Institutions that utilize a professional student enquiry management system will find that it helps them to communicate better with prospective students, by providing the tools to manage and monitor the process efficiently. This service will also augment an institution’s cultural awareness when dealing with international students, who may have a diverse set of expectations and requirements about the process - an area in which the National Association for College Admission Counseling has already noted that counselors and recruitment agents will benefit from third-party support.
A professional recruitment platform like this will enable faculties to strategize their processes through all three stages of pre-admission. This streamlining begins ahead even of the initial inquiry: an effective marketing strategy will use geo-targeting and smart filters to reach students who are qualified and well-suited to your institution.
The second stage is all about keeping curious students interested and answering to their deeper concerns. After the initial excitement of identifying an appealing program, potential recruits will have questions about funding, entry requirements, visa issues, and more. Answering and even preempting these worries with timely, personalized communications across social media and more formal channels will keep your institution ahead of the pack while a student is still narrowing their choices.
Finally, when a student has chosen your institution but is yet to enroll, it is crucial to remain proactive. This means contacting the student to find out if they need more information and forwarding the student relevant information about campus events, program development, and how to prepare for student life in general.
Your student inquiry management system will simplify the process by centralizing the relevant paperwork and information – with the additional advantage that the recruitment platform can compile and analyze this information to give the school strategic data on admissions trends and the needs of the incoming generation of prospective students.
So don't be tempted to take your eye off the ball just because you have a raft of prospective students eager to roll through the admissions process: you’re still at the try-out stage, and this is your chance to impress!