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Recruiting Intelligence

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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6 Key Takeaways for Smart Technology Investments — Free Download

Our advice from a few weeks back: To survive current enrollment and revenue challenges, institutions must stop cutting at some point and invest in growth.

We know you have questions. How do you encourage a culture of innovation? How do you get a slow-moving institution to make smart, growth-focused investments? How do you manage the risks inherent in these investments? And, most importantly, what are the “smart investments” your institution should be making?

We’ve been doing the research and gathering the experts. On November 16th, Intead and iSchoolConnect hosted a webinar Predicting Revenue, Enrollment & Student Success to address these questions and more, with a focus on how investments in data and technology can help generate predictable revenue for your institution and pave the way for transformational growth.

In the webinar, Ben Waxman (CEO, Intead) and Ashish Fernando (CEO, iSchoolConnect) also introduced the new Intead / iSchoolConnect partnership -- a powerful relationship and suite of end-to-end admissions and student success-focused solutions that combine Intead’s wealth of experience in market research and strategic digital communications with iSchoolConnect’s Google-recognized technology services.

The webinar discussion tapped the wisdom and deep experience of:

  • 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

If you missed the webinar, you can watch the recording in full right here. You can also play it in the background while you work, but we like to think our bright, smiling faces bring some added value! : ) 

And if you haven’t got an hour to spare, you’re in luck — a new Key Takeaways PDF download is available for free at the end of this post. These insights shared by our panelists are just too valuable to miss. It is a quick and helpful read.

Read on for webinar highlights and the Key Takeaways download link.

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Student Recruitment Insights from AIRC 2020 Conf - Slides Available

We’ve been presenting at the AIRC conference for eleven years now, and while the gathering looks very different this year, the value of connection and the wealth of ideas shared was a comforting constant from years past in Miami. Although we did miss the poolside networking on a warm December evening.

This year, members of the Intead team were honored to present two sessions together with our amazing colleagues from universities and other experts in the field focused on the AIRC 2020 Vision of “Charting the Waters.”

At Intead, charting the waters of this year has meant gathering and analyzing data, developing targeted, clear (and comforting) communications during this difficult time, and strategizing around new markets and tools to help institutions move their enrollment goals forward.

This absolutely gut-wrenching year, we started addressing the radical changes to student enrollment and student success on February 19 with a blog about adjusting the approach to recruiting international students from China. Days later, we convened enrollment management and study abroad experts for two powerful webinars addressing global ramifications (here and here). This year, our team has published, non-stop, with enrollment management guidance in toolkits, case studies, and eBooks (in addition to this weekly blog).

Read on for a collection of our highest value tips and to download our AIRC presentation slides. You'll find that oh-so-happy link at the bottom of today's post. (Making you work for it ; -)

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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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The End of False Promises

Tracking the macro indicators of market growth and decline is where we were at the start of our journey more than a decade ago. The Intead team defined the global market opportunity for student enrollment in ways we felt others were not seeing. And we published our findings and ideas.

While we in higher education are no strangers to global enrollment shocks, there’s no getting around the reality that the year 2020 and the seismic health, political, and economic shifts have challenged our collective efforts to achieve institutional growth. The student enrollment declines being reported are very real and so many of us are feeling them and anticipating more declines in the near term.

Just this week IIE and the National Student Clearinghouse are providing new data showing how the student market has changed for the worse. These numbers are absolutely worth watching and it all makes for good headlines.

Yet, the team here has moved far beyond those headlines and numbers you are seeing. As we approach each new client engagement, we are focused on where specifically the opportunities lie. Which micro demographic? Age range? Region? Academic program interest? Which market differentiators will be attractive and where? Specifically. Globally and locally.

A wealth of data available to make really smart decisions

Today, there is so much data to analyze to help define the real market opportunities for each institution. Given the harsh market conditions, decisions today will determine which institutions will thrive going forward. In some cases, it is about which ones will simply maintain, forget about thrive. Many are trying to predict the future and with investment in the right tools, that is possible.

"Really?" You ask. "Yes," we reply.

The reality: Your bottom line is more important than ever. Your budget? Smaller than ever. Your enrollment goals? More challenging than ever. Your students? Struggling to succeed.

With so much of this past year being entirely unpredictable, a little confidence in the future would be truly welcome.

Luckily, there is an achievable path forward to predictable and sustainable enrollment growth. We’re talking long-term transformational growth here — those “Aha!” moments that transform your institutional practices and reality for years to come. Interested?

Today we are talking to all of you big picture thinkers.

Enter: Predictive analytics.

We know what some of you may be thinking. Long a buzzword in higher education, predictive analytics strategies often come with a “proceed with caution” label and (valid) concerns about budget, staffing, and implementation.

But we’re here to change all that with our new eBook — The End of False Promises: A Guide to Real Predictive Analytics Success.

In this newest Intead publication, we discuss predictive analytics, past, present, and future, including our vision for a manageable, affordable path to incorporating data- and Artificial Intelligence-powered (AI) solutions throughout the student journey at your institution.

To bring this new reality of actionable predictive analytics services to life, we have partnered with iSchoolConnect, a growing leader in advanced EdTech artificial intelligence (AI) tools, to create a new model for marketing, communications, and analytics for academia. Bonus: as one of the world’s few official Google Cloud partners, this new tie-up has access to data insights and resources others only dream of!

The successful approach we are talking about relies on flexible, incremental investments that produce clear returns. With a trusted partner guiding your institution forward on this journey, the transactional successes add up to transform your entire system for enrollment management and student success.

Read on for a quick-hit predictive analytics crash course and to download your free copy of the new eBook. Plus, a closer look at the new Intead + iSchoolConnect approach.

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What’s Your Recruiting Superpower?

A serious question for you: what should your recruitment team and The Avengers have in common?

We hope your answer isn’t fashion sense, although if you’ve been wearing capes to any student fairs recently, that’s certainly one way to attract attention!

The Avengers know the secret to a powerful team: skill diversity. As you build your own roster of recruitment superheroes, it is important to consider the specific “superpowers” needed to be effective at each stage of the recruitment funnel. And yes, each stage is different. Ensuring that you have the right staff member in the right place at the right time will be paramount to achieving your enrollment goals.

Having just returned from the ICEF and AIRC conference conversations in December, we feel compelled to consider your staffing needs. Do you have the right people in the right seats with the right skills?

So, what are these superpowers, you ask?

We’ve created a helpful infographic to guide you through team roles and needed skills at each stage of the funnel. Use it to assess your own team structure and identify areas for professional development. Keep this funnel in mind as you draft job descriptions and make hiring decisions and remember to consider both the hard and soft skills new team members may bring to the table.

Avengers assemble! And read on…

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Companionship Transforms


Let’s talk about student recruitment without the data for a change. Let’s talk about the underpinnings of this human experience of recruitment. Stay with me here.

Why are we doing this work in the first place?

The cynical among us point to the economics: we recruit students to get their tuition dollars. Ok, this is true. Faculty must be paid to get them to deliver education services. They actually get pretty adamant about this. And administrators need to get paid to keep the operation going.

Bigger thinkers among us believe education fosters cultural understanding. And global education fosters cross-cultural understanding. All this education helps build stronger economies (think jobs) and more peaceful times. 

Personal growth and communal growth.

And how in the world will this blog intro bring us to our favorite topic: student recruitment? Trust me and read on...

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Developing Essential Skills Within Your Recruitment Team

This week, Ben at Patricia are in Miami at the AIRC conference, where they will be hosting a digital marketing workshop alongside Angel Ahmed, CEO of GNET, and Hillary Dostal, Director, Global Initiatives at Northeastern University. This expert team and comprehensive workshop will help international recruitment leaders develop strategic communications plans that differentiate their unique institutions. And, they will be talking about the skills needed throughout the process to achieve success. 

Plans are only as good as the team executing them. Seems obvious, right?

Is your team aligned on your strategic enrollment plan? Do you have a comprehensive marketing plan to work from? Are there gaps in the skill sets? We bet there are at least a few areas that could use improvement, right?

This week we want to walk you through our strategic marketing workshop format and a series of corresponding worksheets available via Intead Plus to guide your marketing and enrollment teams. Ready? Let's check it out. 

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A Second Look at Higher Ed Rankings

Rankings can be addictive. Ask any student who has ever clamored for that valedictorian spot, every salesperson who has tried to outgun her colleagues to be the month’s top seller, every parent who beams at their kid’s position on the Little League batting lineup.  

While you’re at it, ask an enrollment professional, too.

University rankings—think U.S. News and World Report, The Times Higher Education (our far and away favorite in the field if we had to choose), QS, or the Shanghai Jiaotong Academic Ranking of World Universities, and now the Wall Street Journal — affect so much. Students place a lot of weight on ranking lists, and so do parents, alumni, research funders, and governments around the world.

A great ranking can be like an institutional lucky charm, nearly guaranteeing ongoing success. Working at such an institution can feel like taking a perpetual victory lap, waving to crowds of adoring fans as applicants and endowment funds come rolling in.

But a poor ranking can feel like an institutional curse, dooming an institution to mediocrity. Working in enrollment at an “average” institution can sometimes feel like an exhausted, uphill scramble for applications and dollars. This shouldn’t be the case—and it doesn’t have to be.

Rankings matter a lot. Should they? And what can you do about it? Read to the end to find out! 

A couple of opportunities to learn more before we dive into today's topic:

  1. Bite-size data points: Intead Insights is re-launching on Twitter! We're sharing quick stats that, in  15-20 seconds, can teach you something new about enrollment marketing. Fun, informative, surprising, and all the cool kids are doing it (as if). Follow us on Twitter: @Intead 
  2. Digital marketing full-day workshop at AIRC: On Dec., 5, 2018, Intead and our talented colleagues, Angel Ahmed, GNET, and Hillary Dostal, Northeastern University, will be giving a full-day workshop as part of the AIRC conference in Westin, FL. If you have not yet registered, now is the perfect time! Register here

Now, what's a mid-ranked or low-ranked institution to do? Let's review the concerns and provide some advice...

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