Schools across the country are feeling the pressure of declining enrollments along with fierce competitive pressure. They know it’s time to stop the bleeding and to start growing, but how? One trend to consider: think like a student.
So, what does this mean? It means making decisions that begin by asking, “What do our students want? What would make their lives easier?” It means putting your students first.
But, like most things, this is easier said than done. Becoming more student-focused typically requires a substantial shift in an institution’s approach to everything; particularly when it comes to marketing to prospective students and helping create the best educational experience for them once they are enrolled. It requires looking to the student for cues on necessary improvements and enhancements. Focusing on student needs and motivations is key to moving forward and achieving long-term goals.
Where to begin? Here are the top questions to ask:
#1. Are your school’s resources and tools provided in a way that your students prefer?
As many as 70% of college-bound students view college websites on their mobile device, but only half of college websites are optimized for mobile. An easy check – is your website mobile-friendly? Another easy check, does your institution have an app for getting around campus? How about an app for teaching and learning? And, when a student has a question, how quickly can they get the answer either through self-help or a phone call? Do you use social media to communicate with students? Having all or some of these tools is a great way to satisfy today’s on-the-go consumer. These tools aren’t just nice to haves. They’re what students expect from a modern institution.
#2. Is the information you provide tailored to student preferences or is it more generic and “one-size-fits-all”?
Every touch point a student has with an institution should shift based their student profile. Are you talking to working, well-paid adults who want to advance an existing career? Or do you need to cater to younger students who are choosing between college and a vocation? Providing personalized and relevant content when it is needed has a dramatic impact on student interest and engagement.
#3. Are you taking a proactive approach to guiding the student through their entire education experience?
Similar to #2, this means responding to the student’s needs proactively. Providing the student with information he or she expects when and how it is needed, immediately. Examples include technical support, self-service applications, and easy access to student service from the moment a student applies to the moment they graduate.
#4. Are you as focused on career outcomes as your students are?
Providing the resources a student needs to select the right program, secure internships, and make employer connections is critical to helping them see the real value of education. Make sure job statistics by program are easy to find. Flaunt your high job placement scores. Feature your graduates’ career stories. There’s no better way to appeal to the career-minded student.
Check back here over the coming weeks and months for more best practices, tools, checklists, and more on how to take a more student-centric approach to growing enrollments and creating the best educational experience possible. You can also visit Blackboard Student Lifecycle Services to see how we’re partnering with institutions to provide students with better guidance, support, and outcomes throughout their education journey.