Student Recruitment Strategies: Think Like a Student



I’m always reinvigorated when I visit one of Blackboard’s contact centers. I spent two days in Somerset, Kentucky with advisors and staff who represent institutions, taking student calls and helping them through the enrollment process. Few experiences in my role have quite the same impact as listening to students complete the steps towards an education. The Blackboard advisors were consistently compassionate, patient, and supportive. I asked one advisor how she stays so focused all day, everyday, and her answer was simple. She said, “I put myself in their shoes. I think like a student.”

It struck me that while it is easily stated; thinking like the student is at the heart of being a student-centric institution. And we know this approach to be intrinsically tied to enrollment growth and success. In our eBook, Four Leading Strategies to Identify, Attract, Engage, and Enroll the Right Students, we share recommendations on how to navigate the marketing and enrollment needs of today’s students so that you will be able to “think like a student.” This means making decisions that begin with “What do our students want?” and “putting students first, making their lives easier.”

When we think like students we consider the motivations that propel them forward – things like a desire for a better job, new challenges, new skills, or a promotion. Knowing these motivations means that we can proactively guide students through application, enrollment, registration, graduation and, ultimately, better job outcomes by communicating the best message to them at the best time. There are specific triggers that move the student through the enrollment cycle: submitting an application, making an admissions deposit, enrolling in class. With each step, there’s an opportunity for communication and outreach to that student to keep them engaged. Our team often helps create communication plans for institutions that draw upon a cadence of touch points.

Here’s an example:

Example of a communication plan that institutions can use to engage prospective students

Lastly, we know that students need nurturing and attention to stay involved with the process. And, they need questions answered but they might not pick up the phone to call. For student recruitment strategies to work, it is critical that the university not relax once a student has been admitted and enrolled. Continued proactive communication ensures that they understand the steps needed to register for future semesters, reapply for financial aid, pay their balances, and prepare for graduation. These milestones are equally important and have a direct impact on retention and graduation rates.

By getting in touch with your inner student it is possible to quickly understand what is needed to help these individuals progress and achieve success.

To learn more about improving your student recruitment strategies, download our free eBook, Four Leading Strategies to Identify, Attract, Engage, and Enroll the Right Students.

Learn about our step-by-step approach to student recruitment