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Recruiting Intelligence

Ben Waxman

Ben Waxman

Developing a Strategic Plan for International Student Recruitment

Before we dive into today's post, a quick note on some exciting upcoming opportunities to learn and connect.

In October, Intead will be taking a closer look at international student recruitment with two very different and powerful universities in two webinar events. We hope you can join us – we’ll leave time for Q&A!

  • October 5, NAFSA All-Region Summit: UMBC and Intead present “0-60 Internationalization” — Register HERE.
  • October 12, AIRC hosted Webinar: Technion Israel Institute of Technology and Intead present “Shifting Student Perspectives: Digital Marketing Now” — Free to AIRC members and $45 for non-members. Register HERE. (If your institution is not an AIRC member, hit us up for a code and we'll see about getting you past the velvet ropes.)

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Now, about strategic planning for international student enrollment: the more things change, the more they stay the same, right? Not so with our adjustment to the pandemic? Or, maybe the old adage continues to hold true.

Digital is more important than ever to attract your future students. Yet personal touch and support through the application process (think recruiting agents) is critical to get prospective students from awareness to enrolled. All that was old is new again.

Standing the Test of Time

Back in 2015, our colleague Lisa Cynamon Mayers (some of you long-time Intead evangelists will remember the wisdom she shared with all of us) wrote a great post about developing a strategic plan for international student recruitment. She spoke with colleagues at SUNY, Southern New Hampshire University, and Full Sail University to specifically compare/contrast what they were finding cost-effective at the time. A few valuable charts emerged as part of the 2014 AIRC conference presentation enrollment leaders shared at that time.

Much of the strategic perspective is timeless in its value to our work in enrollment management. We can see from this look back what remains true despite the changing political winds, health factors, and visa/travel regulations. We’ve made a few 2021 observations alongside the insightful points in Lisa’s 2015 post below.

How does your strategic enrollment plan look when analyzed along these lines? Read on for our valuable compare/contrast perspective. 

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Would You Like Some Feedback?

Sometimes feedback is well received. Other times, not. Leaders see feedback as invaluable.

In two of our recent, highly-clicked blog posts, we discussed STRATEGY and CULTURE as they relate to academic institutions seeking enrollment growth. Our discussion of enrollment management would be incomplete without a few observations about the need for LEADERSHIP.

When are we leaders?

Leaders come in all forms. Some of us lead organizations, others departments, others a single project. Being a leader has to do with taking ownership of the vision or reason for the work, the people, the process, and the results.

And being a leader has everything to do with the learning. The analysis before, during, and after. And that has a lot to do with feedback. Receptivity to feedback, even when unsolicited is truly important. These are the learning moments with value for those willing to step into a leadership role; a role that requires humility and listening along with confidence and daring.

Read on for a few quick and helpful insights that just may help you take a fresh view of the feedback you are likely getting all the time. There are more gems coming your way than you may realize. Plus, our closing link will bring a smile to your day.

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The Essential Guide to Implementing a University CRM System

With so much in enrollment management being in flux right now, going back to the basics is important. Managers across the country are looking to their 2021 intake reports and trying to predict spring and fall 2022. Challenging under normal circumstances, right?

So where are those reports coming from and how much is what should be a simple process driving you up a wall?

The more important the task, the more frustrating it is to have a tool that isn’t helping you succeed. For those among us still reviewing excel spreadsheets with enrollment data, we feel your pain.

It’s no surprise that many universities, high schools, and language schools feel incredibly irritated by customer relationship management (CRM) systems that don't meet their needs. We know this is a topic worth discussing in part, because some of our most read blog posts over the past 2 years (Post 1, Post 2, Post 3) are about enrollment managers' user experience with Technolution's #Slate.

If any of this sounds familiar—and if you wish you had more guidance on how to set up a system that will actually help you anticipate what your future enrollment will bekeep on reading.

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Marketing Culture. What’s Yours?

We’ve all heard about how company culture eats company strategy for lunch, yeah?

Last week, we wrote about how folks often confuse strategy and tactics. And we gave a little side eye to those colleagues among us who use the word “strategy” to appear smart and make others feel less than.

The cheat sheet on that one: replace the word “strategy” or “strategic” with “different” or “differentiation” and you’ll be able to get to the nub of the discussion topic quickly. Strategy has everything to do with position in the marketplace, which means how you stand out and leverage your differences against the competition. Tactics are all about the marketing tools and channels you use to make your institution’s valuable differences shine, be heard, and understood.

But in academic marketing (and virtually every other operation we can think of), how we achieve our strategic differentiation, how we meet our institutional goals, has everything to do with the team we have to do the work (the team that creates and delivers the product).

An interesting observation here: academic institutions really are all the same, right? Sure, there is R1 and R2, public and private, not-for-profit and for-profit, 4-year and 2-year, but these categorizations, when you get down to it, are not that significant, at least at the undergraduate level, right? They are all producing the same thing and in the eyes of the consumer, what is really different? They all have the same administrative and academic departments. And the rankings are a sham anyway, right?

Read on for how to counter that sad and ineffective point of view.

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So That’s Your Strategy?

People look smart when they reference strategy. It elevates any discussion to greater importance as soon as the word strategy enters. Often, it gets others in the room thinking, “Right, maybe I’m not thinking about this strategically.” Followed by the thought, “What exactly would a strategic version of this discussion look like?”

The idea of strategy is often misunderstood. I fully admit, it really can be difficult. I can’t tell you how many discussions I’ve been in where people describe their tactical execution plan as the strategy. 

A simple example of why folks get confused, and I’ll use what we know best, the world of marketing: Your marketing strategy to enroll more students requires great marketing content. Content is a tactic you will employ to achieve your strategic goal. Yet, you will need a content strategy to be successful. So, content is not a tactic. It is a strategy, right? No, it is a tactic in this scenario. A tactic that needs its own strategy.

Oy vey.

Our team, of course, lives in the world of marketing strategy, planning, and execution. Today's post shares some insights into how to simplify the discussion and confirm when you are employing a strategy vs. discussing the tactical execution of any given initiative.

Read on and maybe we can shed some light on how to actually be smart in the discussion, not just look smart.

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Chinese Students Want to Hear from You

You and your team have been navigating the China recruitment challenges for years with some notable successes. Taking those long-haul flights and testing out the student fair operators. Building a reliable agent network despite the risks (thanks, AIRC). Learning WeChat and leveraging an entirely new digital marketing landscape. Developing meaningful global partnerships.

And then the visas and flights stopped.

As if China were not already the most complex marketing challenge for international student recruitment, along came COVID-19.

At this writing, the first F-1 visa appointments at US consulates in China are tentatively available as of August 12, notes WholeRen Education Chief Learning Officer Andrew Chen. Right now, it is unclear why any US institution might believe their Chinese students currently in China will be coming to their US campus this fall. Logistically, it seems entirely unlikely if not impossible.

Fortunately, and somewhat surprisingly, despite all the setbacks, Chinese demand for a US education is strong.

How do we know? Two proof points:

  • Market research we performed with WholeRen Education surveying 20,000+ Chinese parents just last month.
  • 2,000+ Chinese students voting with their feet and attending classes run by Syracuse, Rutgers, Clark, Babson, Penn State, Tulane, and others in US-style classrooms in China run by CIEE.

At the link below, you can pre-register for the release of our latest research for student enrollment professionals interested in succeeding in China based on current conditions and what will follow.

Pre-register Now

Your pre-registration for the latest research will also grant you access to our upcoming webinar interviewing three experts on the Chinese student experience. You’ll hear from one university on how they managed fall 2020 Chinese student enrollment and what the institution is doing to continue their success.

Read on for insights and practical tips to reach the Chinese market in the current climate and beyond.

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Using Tech to Thrive in a Volatile Time — Register Now

How do you and your team feel as you choose technology partners and platforms? Not exactly a walk in the park, right?

We’ve worked with many institutional leaders and there are common elements of a successful process. And those common elements are not the same today as they were a decade ago. Today, institutional investments in technology follow a different path, with different expectations. Success has been modified over the years. Integrations consistently evolve.

Our point: Enrollment management upgrades are essential to your institution’s future growth. Competition for students is growing more intense with no end in sight. You need both the team and the technology to succeed at stabilizing and growing revenue, and achieving the diverse student environment that your mission statement purports. 

What is this redefinition of how technology investments help universities move forward? Intead and iSchoolConnect are participating in a Chronicle of Higher Education webinar tomorrow, February 4th at 2pm Eastern, to discuss just that. All registrants will have access to the recording. So, even if you’re tethered to that critical Zoom meeting tomorrow, you can still get the inside scoop and all our best insights and advice.  

Register Now

The Chronicle is bringing an all-star panel to discuss the big picture. How are institutional needs assessed? How are institutional goals identified? How are technology investment decisions made? The panel features:

  • Cedric Howard, Vice President for Enrollment & Student Services, State University of New York at Fredonia
  • Keith W. McIntosh, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, University of Richmond
  • Mary Ann Rafoth, Provost, Robert Morris University

Plus, Intead and iSchoolConnect will be adding some grounded tactical perspective with a special segment,"6 Insights in 6 Minutes", featuring: 

  • Ben Waxman, CEO, Intead
  • Ashish Fernando, CEO, iSchoolConnect
  • B. Donta Truss, Vice President for Enrollment Development & Educational Outreach, Grand Valley State University 
  • Derrick Alex, Director, Admissions Processing, University of Houston

All in all, this webinar will help you consider the broad range of quality available in the marketplace as you find the trustworthy technology partners you need. Many of the vendor options available do not understand the complexity and varied needs of the academic environment. We do.

Read on for a preview of those insights. 

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When the Cutting is Done, the Smart Investing

As we engage with our colleagues at the AIRC virtual conference this week and next, the discussions have us thinking, planning, and doing.

The financial challenges are quite real and the losses in the world of academia will continue to pile up in the near term. Survival and growth are possible, and your team knows that. Your leadership is engaged in some exceedingly difficult decision making right now.

Here are the financial realities: While deep and troubling, many institutions have been here before and frankly, this kind of pain is not all that new. Pandemic or no, institutions were heading for a financial crisis. Current circumstances have sped up the process. Those that have survived these challenges in the past stop cutting at some point and invest in growth.

We all want those investments in growth to be the right ones, but how do we know? Let’s look to our industry experts from our fellow AIRC members working in the trenches, to Moody’s Global Services, and the Chronicle of Higher Ed and make some sense of this. Concrete advice follows. Read on. 

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Is Flexible Incrementalism the Answer to Student Enrollment Growth?

According to Moody’s reports on the financial pain 4-year institutions are facing, higher ed administrators are managing a host of escalating challenges.

What we know: cutting your way to success has never worked for any institution.

What we want: strategic, incremental investments that pay off.

But which ones will lead to predictable enrollment growth and revenue? Oh, and student success?

There is a guiding light, a process to achieving this kind of success.

With technology playing an increasingly critical role in every aspect of our lives, especially now, academic institutions have recognized the need to accelerate the adoption and development of digitally oriented enrollment processes and education delivery. These moves can reverse enrollment declines and support the quality of education that students and families expect. A new partnership between Intead, iSchoolConnect, and Google addresses these needs with a smart, agile, and modular approach.

Framed as a modern and flexible model, incremental investments in technology for marketing and student success can align university leadership, administrators and importantly, faculty. CFOs take note, this is a plan for predictable enrollment and revenue streams.

The team delivering on this approach brings deep skills in marketing, enrollment management, and technology to support academic institutions through transformative initiatives carried out incrementally.

The goal is to produce an enrollment management transformation and a re-imagined approach to student success. Affordable marketing and AI-powered technology investments, each with clear transactional wins (think ROI) that justify the process, move the institution through a series of system improvements and enhancements toward the envisioned state. 

We’ve been here before, and we know that transformation is tough at large institutions. Bold and expensive strokes often fail to build the necessary stakeholder buy-in. The result: limited successes, far less than envisioned. 

Incrementalism recognizes that there are common modules every institution will want to address (recruitment, enrollment management, alumni relations, student and career services, etc.). Each institution is different in how and when each valued area blends into the transformation effort.

Read on to view our latest webinar in which I am joined by Ashish Fernando, iSchoolConnect CEO, and a panel of excellent guest speakers from Dartmouth, Babson, Northeastern, and Google to discuss how this new approach can pave the way to predictable, affordable, and transformative enrollment results. 

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Webinar: Predicting Revenue, Enrollment & Student Success

There's one important thing institutions should do to reverse enrollment declines. Most won’t do it.

What you need to succeed: the knowledge that each incremental investment provides a near-term win, a return on investment, while advancing your institution towards a transformative state for long-term growth. 

On Monday, November 16th at 12pm (EST), we will be joined by an amazing line up of experts to discuss how predictive analytics and flexible, modular investments in technology can transform both enrollment management and student success.

With so many institutions experiencing enrollment declines and budgetary challenges, strategic investments are essential. No institution has ever cut its way to success. 

Join us for this intriguing discussion about predictive analytics powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Following our webinar, attendees will receive an advance copy of our newest eBook on how to customize this modular approach for your institution. And we will be making a big announcement about how Intead is changing, significantly, to take advantage of the opportunities we see ahead.

Register Now

During the webinar, I will be joined by my co-host, Ashish Fernando, CEO of iSchoolConnect, and together we will get some amazing strategic insights from:

  • Lisa Adams, MD: Associate Dean for Global Health, Director of the Center for Global Health Equity, Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine
  • Jesus Trujillo Gomez: Strategic Business Executive for Higher Ed at Google Cloud
  • Kerry Salerno: CMO, Babson College
  • Hillary Dostal: Economics Adjunct Professor and Lecturer, Northeastern University and Endicott College
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