The Evolving Role of College Admissions Offices

The competition for colleges is fierce. With so much to gain from students enrolling, finding a way to engage prospective students and create an offer that is better than the rest, is crucial. 

But once the students have enrolled, the journey does not stop there. How do you retain students and keep them engaged in both their courses and their connection with the college or University? 

If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it is that Colleges should no longer simply rely on traditional approaches to capturing student interest and admissions. Without trusted college fairs and campus visits, Universities that quickly learnt to adapt to the modern, online approach will have done significantly better this year than those that were left stumped by the concept. 

As we move forward from COVID-19, a combination of traditional and non-traditional higher ed marketing needs to be created and this engagement with students needs to continue throughout the entire application, admission and enrollment process. Colleges need to change the process to be more student-centric; where colleges work to enroll students, rather than wait for students to find them. 

The great enrollment reset 

Inside Higher Education, recently reported that the whole enrollment and admissions process needs to be reset. While we cannot predict another global crisis, reverting back to the traditional process will inevitably leave those colleges that cannot adapt far behind. College leaders and their admissions offices need to tackle the issue head on, and adapt to the modern world in which the digital world can be used for marketing, engagement and enrollment. 

And that is where a higher education enrollment agency comes in. These marketing savvy agencies work with colleges to improve student engagement before, during and after admissions. They help to enlighten and support students during the application process and beyond. 

Students who receive a better, more positive experience from the first interaction with a college, will likely build a better connection and stick with them long term. 

Why do things need to change?

While some students are finding it difficult to compete with their peers for the best college placements, the competition between colleges is growing too. As such, students have more options than ever in terms of where to study their degree. 

Colleges need to do more to support prospective students in their application process, so that students are less deterred by the long paperwork and confusing terminology. By making the individual’s application process a positive experience, colleges can increase their chances of being considered. 

The application itself is often overlooked when it comes to the college’s brand identity. But in actuality, everything the public interacts with is an extension of the brand and has the potential to improve or ruin a student’s impression of the University. 

How can admission offices change? 

To create a full and positive experience for students – both current and prospective – admission offices and College marketing departments need to take on an omni-channel approach. With any marketing campaign, the idea is to reach as many relevant students as possible, meaning departments should incorporate the use of texts, emails and social media within their outreach efforts.

The campaigns need to be consistently monitored too, so that students who engage with content, or ask questions, are answered quickly so that their attention does not divert to other colleges. 

Higher education enrollment agencies can provide colleges with ideas, tools and proven techniques to help them engage with prospective students within the modern educational realm. The agency works as an extended part of the admissions office to help build more in-depth relationships with students and increase the accessibility of support during the application process. Enrollment agencies can work as part of the research team, admission office or even the financial aid department to help students every step of the way. 

It is this level of extra attention and support that can give a college the edge they need to compete with other Universities in their area or specialism. This not only leaves a good impression with the class of 2021 and onwards, but will keep the college in the mind of younger siblings who will one day need to make their own decisions about college. 

As the world becomes fully digital and remote, colleges and prestigious institutions need to take a step back from relying on their heavy tradition and historical reputation and adapt to the modern student and their expectations. 

By providing students a positive and supported application process, colleges are paving their way to higher levels of enrollment and better student retention.