You all see the enrollment storm we are heading into, right?
Now is the ‘Break Glass’ moment. If you act smart, fast, and right now, your fall enrollment is still salvageable, sort of. And your class of 2021 can remain within reach.
So, that travel budget you won’t be spending on travel? It’s time to determine how you will re-allocate it to make the greatest impact. And yes, you will need ALL of it (and more) to try to make things work out for your institution.
Sound overly dire? If you are thinking that, we fear you have not played this out far enough. Two key points to consider:
- China, 3 months ahead of the rest of the world on the whole COVID-19 thing, has yet to open any of its universities as of April 1.
- Last week, the US recorded 3.3M new jobless claims, the largest one-week spike ever. By a factor of 6x. And if that weren't bad enough, the next weekly figure is projected to exceed last week's. By alot.
Yes, you will need a strong marketing budget to withstand the storm ahead.
Our primary message right now: gather the team you trust around you. There are SO many offers from vendors (like us) seeking your limited budget dollars and offering to take your classes and faculty online and do so much more for you. Some institutions are making snap judgments they are going to regret in 3 to 6 months. Go with the team you know and trust to have deep industry experience and a nimble approach.
Why? Because the situation is going to continue to be fluid for quite a while. This is not a time to partner up with folks you are unsure of.
One more reality to consider:
- Assuming the world's visa process is turned back on for international travelers, are you going to allow international students to join you on campus this fall without a quarantine period? Will you make decisions based on where they are from? Wuhan? Seoul? But wait, what about an admitted student from Seattle or NYC? How will you communicate the safety of your campus environment to your students and their parents?
This situation will remain fluid for quite some time. Processes will need to adapt. Having nimble and trusted partners allows you to move forward with as much confidence as possible, knowing your team can adapt quickly and never questioning their motives. Our team truly has your best interests in mind.
The constant in the student journey
Students start their discovery process by asking a number of key questions. It starts with a, “What if?” exploration. There is a level of excitement for possibilities. It quickly turns to more concrete questions of:
- Do you have programs in my areas of interest? and
- Can I afford it?
The answers to these questions have ALL changed in just a few short weeks.
Our digital Town Hall meetings over the past few weeks have been invaluable sources of insight in navigating this unprecedented situation. The two resource and tip guides that accompanied them have been gobbled up. Fortunately, they are digital so we can make more of them instantly ; -)
You can access these valuable Resources and Tips PDFs, as well as recordings of both Town Hall meetings, at the end of this post. Read on.
If you think your students will be flocking back to campus this fall, you are misreading the situation.
There are international applicants telling their US counterparts that they do not want to receive any physical mail from the US for fear that it could infect them. Even this fall, the fear of gathering, much less receiving mail, will still be top of mind for many people - students and parents alike.
The offerings you currently have are not the same student experiences they were a mere month ago. The value and quality of online programs and insecurities about being physically close to others will become a big part of student decision making. Do you have the programs and educational experiences students are seeking in this new, uncharted reality? Are they on par with your competitor institutions?
The economic insecurities around family and personal revenue sources just went through the roof. So, the calculations around “Can I afford it?” have changed dramatically. It’s time to clarify what your institution can offer in scholarships, remote work opportunities, and other creative ways that can help your students afford to attend.
So, what to do?
Intead is fine-tuning tools and approaches to recruiting in this world gone 100% digital. Based on all the information we have gathered and analyzed, here’s what our team is implementing for clients right now:
- Getting classes online
- Training faculty in how to get and administer their classes online
- Proctoring online exams
- Helping students become job ready in a digital world (online, AI-assisted interview training)
- Much more (see our Perish Economy Town Hall Resource Download)
Digital Recruiting (Campaigns, Events and Networks)
- Communicating to all audience segments with confidence and inspiration
- Promoting your online offerings and all the good things that have happened to folks who have completed them already. Be sure you are segmenting your audiences with customized digital ad campaigns, online micro events and truly engaging content
- Developing communications plans for fall 2020 enrolled students who will likely be learning online and IF they come to campus, will be experiencing a quarantine period before they begin to mingle. (If it goes this way, you're going to need some really great digital cruise directors to engage these students along with a reliable food delivery system!)
- Building a reliable network of global recruiters
- Engaging alumni in the recruiting process
- Tracking all of your digital activity to know what works and improve on it for the next cycle
Below is a link to our two Town Hall sessions with our expert panels making sense of what is happening right now in enrollment management, as well as our Resources and Tips PDFs. Give them a read and then reach out to us so that we can walk you through the important next steps campuses across the country are evaluating and implementing with our help (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Our thanks and gratitude to our colleagues for being available quickly to share advice and take your questions. Three practical next steps:
- Speak with confidence about your plans and acknowledge that those plans may change as new information becomes available. The situation before us is unfolding and every week brings new situations that we must adapt to. Students and parents will understand this. As your online offerings become more robust, or if your campus can in fact open this fall, both can be welcome news. Develop a plan and communicate it clearly. Do not be silent at a time like this. Share your opportunities with your current and prospective students.
- Speak to inspire. This is an unprecedented time in global history. The proactive and motivated students you seek for your institution will want to rise to the challenge and be a part of the solution. Inspire them with information about how the education you offer will help them help others.
- Tech up. Now is the time to be sure your student information system (SIS), learning management system (LMS), customer relationship management system (CRM), and marketing automation processes are in the right place. Your recruiting network and processes and digital marketing campaigns are huge assets right now.
The Link You've Been Waiting For: Check out our Town Hall recordings and other quick read COVID-19 adaptation recommendations HERE.