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Recruiting Intelligence

Ben Waxman

Ben Waxman

#NAFSA2022 Takeaways: Intead’s NAFSA 2022 Slides Now Available

The most common topics of conversation throughout #NAFSA2022:

  • So much is in flux right now globally and central to it all: China is not what it used to be. When will China come back?
  • The proliferation of tech tools for student recruitment is overwhelming. They all promise great things and we’ve seen these promises before. Which ones should I evaluate? Will they actually work? How do I know?
  • Boosting yield on applications is a struggle, especially with my team’s limitations on time, experience, and skills. We are understaffed to make this stuff work.
  • I need to find ways to make JEDI efforts more impactful in my recruiting programs and on my campus. 

These issues are being discussed in forums far beyond the NAFSA conference. How we tackle these topics will affect immediate and long-term recruitment priorities for all of us doing this work.

Intead’s NAFSA presentations addressed much of this. A BIG thank you to our amazing collaborators and colleagues from Benedict College, San Diego State University, Clark University, Northeastern University, CIEE, ICEF, and GNET.

Whether or not you were able to attend our live sessions, we’re making our presentations available to you. We think you’ll find them valuable resources as you move into the 2023-24 recruitment cycle. And where the slides don’t give you all the context you need, reach out with your questions.

In the meantime, read on to download our decks.

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The Lament That Goes Nowhere: A New Perspective

As I sat out most of the #NAFSA2022 conference in my Denver hotel room due to a positive covid test the day after I arrived, I worked the phone, email, and social media to keep as many balls in the air as possible. From my 34th floor room across the street from the real action, I provided helpful reports on Downtown Denver traffic patterns ; -)

If you missed our Big 10 Digital Campaign Case Study download, you'll want to grab that here. We ran out of the handouts at NAFSA but PDFs are forever!

During NAFSA, what I missed most, what I regret, is simply those moments when the Intead team is presenting and the NAFSA crowd is clearly taking in new ideas and sharing their excitement about how digital marketing, new tools, and deep insights into target audience decision-making (the stuff of real marketing: voice of the customer) all come together to create successful recruiting initiatives.

Despite what I did NOT get out of the conference, the Intead team (Patricia Tozzi + Iliana Joaquin on-site, and Rachel Trahan behind the scenes) took all matters into their own hands bringing their usual level of amazing. Meanwhile, I sat in my hotel room patching into all the important chats by phone and trying to avoid feeling pathetic.

There is a theme that has been running across international student conferences for many years, and #NAFSA2022 was no exception. It is a lament one often hears from department leads – in most institutions and across all industries. It is the cry of the under-resourced. The “If they only knew how important our work is" dirge.

These department chairs and administrative leaders are frustrated by colleagues and bosses up the chain who somehow do not recognize the value represented by the real work being done and the outcomes produced.

  • “How do they think they will get the growth outcomes they want if they don’t support us?”
  • “Why are they not seeing or valuing our success? Our potential? How hard we work?”
  • “Why do the resources always go to those guys?” (read: domestic marketing)

So, we get it. Your department needs more funding. For marketing collateral, for digital media buys, for tech tools and analytics. For more hands to simply do the work.

But, let’s turn the questions around. Read on for new perspectives on these longtime frustrations…

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AIEA 2022 Takeaways: Where do we go from here?

As I wrote from the MSY airport lounge, #AIEA2022 had just wrapped. At that time, in the previous 24 hours, Russia had launched a military attack on Ukraine, some of our colleagues tested positive for Covid at the AIEA conference, and Boston (my destination) was expecting a foot of snow the next day. Oh, and my Boston flight was unceremoniously canceled with no flights available to get me to Boston for another 3 days. Life as we know it continues with turbulent distress, ambiguity, and elements of normalcy.

With these realities in mind, I offer focused reflections on the ideas that struck me most during the conference and a few ideas on how they might add value to your work. As always, we don’t want to get all esoteric here. It’s about actionable steps for internationalization and diverse student experiences that take us all forward, together, with vision.

Enrollment management is complex. The tools available to help us can be confusing. Read to the end of this post for some very tangible advice from 4 international students who spoke at the conference.

More learning ahead

We hope you will be joining us at NAFSA 2022 in Denver this Spring. We will be sharing 3 forward-thinking presentations and a poster session. We are honored to co-present with colleagues from Benedict College, San Diego State University, Clark University, Northeastern University, CIEE, ICEF, and GNET. More details on those in future posts.

More immediately, read on for reflections and action items from AIEA 2022...

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The Long and Winding Road Tracing the Student Journey: Part 2

Last week we began tracing the evolving international student journey, with a look at what might help or hinder your relationship with prospects along the way. In short, it’s all about engaging content and great follow-up. But that’s just part of the story.

When marketing to students, we often focus on the information we want to give them, but it’s equally important to consider what information a prospect needs to give you and what steps you need that prospect to take. So let’s explore a few ways to entice students to click that CTA and follow your channels, register for an event, download that guide… You get the idea.

Read on for our next installment reviewing the student journey elements that are so important to the phase we are in right now as application deadlines approach.

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The Long and Winding Road Tracing the Student Journey: Part 1

As we settle into 2022, we can't help but think about journeys – those we've been on and the ones we're embarking on now. Two important processes are staring us in the face right now. One for our prospective students and one for us. In reality, both are for us:

  • Application season
  • Budget planning

As enrollment management professionals, we know the elements of the student journey – from evaluation of the options, to defining the shortlist, applying, and then making the final selection – and all the small stops along the way that influence the student’s ultimate enrollment decision.

When we talk about the student journey, we think about everything we can do from a marketing and communications point of view to put the right information in front of prospective students at just the right time. What is our team doing well? What tools do we have in place? What are we missing? Our answers to these questions speak to both the application season and budget planning process.

If you’ve not yet downloaded our framework for budget planning (1-page chart), you’ll find some helpful insight there. Simple, straightforward steps to clarify your rationale for funding one recruitment project over another.

If you are attending the 2022 AIEA conference in New Orleans (Feb 20-23), be in touch and we’ll find time for a coffee and an exchange of ideas.

Read on for a helpful review of what the student journey is all about given the new twists and turns that the past two years have forced upon all of us.

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Reverse Enrollment Declines: Use Marketing Tech Better

So many dashboards. So little time.

Where is success hiding? How much investment will it take to achieve our targets?

With student mobility still in a state of flux, all bets are off for your predictive models. Or are they?

Today, we are talking to those with a CRM and marketing automation tools already in place.

Is this you? Your system works well enough and you can see some obvious gaps in functionality and interconnectedness. But you have what you have and there is no immediate opportunity to upgrade or change what you have. So…it is all about using the tools you have, better.

How do we get there? How do we know which features have real value to our operations? How can we use what we know to achieve better results?

We are heading into four wonderful days of interacting with our peers at the AIRC conference in Miami this week. The Intead team will be presenting on innovative ways to use the rising tide of influencer marketing for academia (it’s not going to be what you might think), and we will be presenting on innovative approaches to grad student marketing.

We can’t give enough thanks to our colleagues Toni Jaeger-Fine from Fordham Law School, Ita Duron from Massachusetts College of Health Sciences, and Kirsten Feddersen from Northeastern University all joining us on the dais to share our experiences and ideas. SO many ideas. Testing and confirming marketing approaches that are unique to each institution’s strengths.

Reach out if you would like to share a cup of coffee in Miami!

Read on for our two concrete recommendations for using your marketing tech better.

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Small Talk, So Underrated

You are welcome here.

DEI efforts to address inclusion.

These are big concepts that deserve big discussions on campuses everywhere. Discussions with senior leaders setting policies and developing programs to make everyone on campus feel involved and connected.

And to make all that happen, that feeling of being welcome and included, will rely on some of the small things that often are met with eye rolls. Yet, these small things are really important to this whole inclusion effort.

You know that inside joke and the trendy celebrity stuff you are not on top of? The conversation that just kind of left you like roadkill as it blew right by? Maybe silly. Perhaps kind of uncomfortable. Happens to all of us. And it happens to your new students frequently. Domestic, yes. International, all the time.

If you think small talk is meaningless, think again.

In our work for a large, highly ranked Midwestern institution, we were talking with Pham (not his real name). He traveled from Vietnam for his US studies. A natural networker, smart, interested in business, he chose to major in Business Management Information Systems and Finance. With that degree, it is no wonder he was snapped up by Deloitte where he currently works as a Senior Consultant in Tax Management.

To hear Pham tell it, connecting to the US community with small talk was critical to his success. He came to understand this during his studies as he tried to connect with the other international students and with his American peers. He found he was struggling to make friends.

Read on for Pham's perspective and our tips for getting these really important conversations started. It is all about personal and student success. 

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Flying Forward with In-Person Learning: Executive Edition

Let’s get a sneak peek at what the Intead team has in store for our fellow AIRC conference colleagues this year. A powerful group of student enrollment professionals will be gathering in Miami in just a few days. We can’t wait!

At this year’s AIRC conference (Miami, Dec 8-11), I will be sharing what we have learned recently through our work with three outstanding institutions. Our two conference session presentations this year speak to getting students to become aware of, and engaged by, the specific learning opportunities your institution offers. We hope you can join us.

  • Finding and Managing Brand Ambassadors for Recruitment
    • Intead with Northeastern University’s Kirsten Feddersen, Senior Director of International Enrollment Management. This one is truly a cutting edge take on influencer marketing and Gen Z attraction.
  • Innovative Recruiting Approaches for Specialty Grad Programs
    • Intead with Fordham Law School’s Toni Jaeger-Fine, Assistant Dean of International and Non-J.D. Programs and Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences’ Ita Duron, Executive Director of Global Strategies & International Programs. This one looks at a range of creative student recruiting alternatives to digital campaigns.

We are all eager for first-hand experiential learning opportunities and we complement that with the welcome release of the latest data from IIE’s Open Doors, NAFSA’s economic impact analysis, Common App's data, and the National Clearinghouse’s enrollment numbers that help inform the marketing magic that underpins our work here at Intead.

Read on for a bit of pre-conference insight into why these two conference session presentations rose to the top of our list this year.

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Offering Up Inspiration for DEI

When Vice President Harris said, “Your nation is SO proud of you,” to a group of 20 Frederick Douglass Global Fellows, you could not have found more inspired university students anywhere. Absolutely anywhere. Their eyes said it all.

International education speaks deeply to all of us. And yet it remains inaccessible to so many. What we know is that roughly 6% of US students participating in study abroad are Black. How to make this privilege and opportunity available to many, many more?

Intead’s international team has been deeply honored to work alongside our colleagues at CIEE on an inspired and inspiring project – a concerted effort to bring the opportunity of international education, experiential education, to more BIPOC students. In just a few months, we’ve watched this effort draw pledges from dozens of university presidents who have matched CIEE’s scholarship funding to allow more students to experience the power of international education.

As the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship barrels forward with applications for 2022 now open, we bring you this bottle of inspiration — a 5 minute film featuring the perspectives and experiences of the 2021 cohort. This will lift your spirits and get you thinking.

To hear Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis, president of Benedict College tell it, this program offers a lot and demands just as much back from the students who participate. Frederick Douglass Global Fellows and Scholars have a responsibility to share what they’ve learned as they become leaders in their chosen fields. To be, as one Frederick Douglass Global Fellow put it, “the first of many.”

We are gratified to see university presidents not just encouraging, but taking real action — signing up to catalyze their DEI initiatives in a valuable and visible way through this program. Will your institution be next? 

Read on to watch the film and hear from these future change-makers. 

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2 Ways to Get Gen Z

It is wonderful to see a number of institutions touting strong, even incredible, increases in applications for their fall 2021 enrollment. And then the crowing over the record number of students actually enrolling. These successes are fabulous, for sure.

Yet, NCES data just released, with about 50% of all institutions reporting, shows the broader, less rosy picture. Most institutions saw average enrollment declines of around 3% (or worse) in various student segments.

Those few who are cheering, and the larger number of enrollment managers furrowing their brows, are evaluating all of this in the context of what happened in fall 2020 when so many institutions saw frightening and dramatic declines. Bigger than the enrollment blips that 2020 and 2021 represent is, of course, the enrollment cliff predicted for 2025/2026. How are institutions preparing for the challenges ahead?

We’ve seen an increasing number of institutions re-evaluating the game plan and getting very concerned about whether or not they appeal to Gen Z. It is a valid question. An important question. And here’s the thing: marketing agencies everywhere are making the most of that question in ways that can be highly misleading – the level of exaggeration coming from the marketing world prompts a bit of an eyeroll.

Sure, the decision-making process has differences today, but honestly, it is more the same than it is different. Not saying institutions seeking to attract and enroll students don’t need to adjust. They do.

Note: We recently presented an AIRC-hosted webinar alongside Technion Israel Institute of Technology talking about digital marketing and Gen Z that is now available to subscribers to our Intead Plus library.

Read on for insights on two important avenues for getting Gen Z to think more seriously about your institution. And join us at the AIRC conference in Miami in December where there will be plenty of talk on this topic.

A key idea: re-evaluate the hoops you make applicants jump through.

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