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Recruiting Intelligence

Is Your Institution Prepared for What Comes Next?

Global campus options are now more critical than ever. Do you have the flexible toolkit to secure your Spring 2021 term?

Back in May, we let our community know about a new opportunity through CIEE to establish turnkey global campuses. This is the realistic innovation we see as critical to maintaining international student enrollment opportunities.

This is doable.

With their 70 years of experience in international education and their footprint of 30+ campuses around the world, CIEE developed a program to help institutions serve their international students despite COVID-19 and the travel restrictions that have been roiling the industry.

Since May, less than 3 months ago, more than 8 forward thinking and fast-moving institutions saw the opportunity. For the Fall 2020 term, more than 1,300 international students are enrolled in those institutions and will study on CIEE campuses overseas in Shanghai, Seoul, and other reachable cities.

Innovators like Tulane University, Rutgers University, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences University, Penn State, Clark University, and others are leading the way for their international students:

  • Developing the long-term bond between student and institution
  • Delivering their customized academic programming
  • Securing student graduation timelines
  • Maintaining enrollment numbers and revenue streams

Recruitment. Retention. Revenue.

Spring term 2021 is now in play. US universities are witnessing the ever changing and ill-defined decrees from the US State Department about how international students can and cannot come to the US for their academic programs. Hard enrollment numbers for Fall 2020 are on their way.

Read on for the inside scoop from the academic leaders who took steps in May to secure Fall 2020. And how your steps today can secure Spring 2021 and beyond.

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One Million Student Prospects Vanished This Spring

Just poof, gone!

But we know where they are hiding.

An excerpt from Jeff Selingo’s highly anticipated forthcoming book, Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions:

“A student’s name is sold by College Board, on average, 18 times over her high school career, and some names have been purchased more than 70 times…The coronavirus prevented more than a million first-time SAT takers in the high-school class of 2021 from taking the test this spring or summer. The canceled ACT/SAT doesn’t only leave rising seniors lacking a score; it also results in the loss of names for colleges to fill the top of their recruitment funnel.”

 

If you have typically used those purchased names to fill the top of your recruitment funnel…it’s time to rely more heavily on digital marketing to generate those leads.

Generating your own leads instead of purchasing them produces prospective students who have clearly expressed interest in what your institution offers. Higher quality prospects produce more efficient, lower cost results. In the end, a streamlined recruitment process to fill your classes.

But contrary to what Facebook and Google might have you believe, a successful lead generation campaign is more than just a few clicks in an ad platform. You’ve got to have the expertise to set up your audience criteria and so much more.

If you are concerned about meeting your enrollment targets, may we suggest a bit of help from the Intead team and our Intead Plus resource library?

Our Intead Plus members have access to the worksheets and data that help them justify their student enrollment marketing plans and craft targeted, ROI-positive campaigns. A year-round resource, Intead Plus offers strategic support, data analysis, recruitment planning, student personas, and industry perspective.

Oh, and did we mention that we are offering steep Intead Plus membership discounts to state consortium members? Study Illinois started the trend and now it might be available to you.

If you are a member of your state consortium, be in touch: info@intead.com.

Read on to figure out where those 1M students went and how you can reach them.

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The New Student Enrollment Playbook is Here

We’d like to think that your Wednesday ritual includes reading our latest Recruiting Intelligence blog release over your morning coffee, but we know that you’ve had a lot on your plate recently, and we don’t mean breakfast.

What a difference a week makes? Last week everyone was reacting to the ICE guidance that if U.S. classes were online only, international students had to head for the exits. Now, 7 days later, that order is rescinded and international students may stay in the U.S. and study online.

While this is welcome news, if anyone thinks this is the end of the headaches, confusion and policy level chaos on this topic, they've not been paying attention for the past few years.

Throughout the rise of COVID-19 we’ve been offering quick-hit, actionable advice weekly on this blog, advising on how to weather this storm, salvage your enrollment, and pivot your digital marketing strategy in response to this unprecedented global crisis.

This Not So Fun Fact from UNESCO still boggles our minds: By the first week of April, 190 countries closed kindergartens to higher education institutions simultaneously affecting 1.6 billion learners, 90% of total enrolled learners globally.

If you’ve missed any of our valuable insights these past few months, or if you just need a refresher — we know, there’s a lot to keep track of right now—you’re in luck. Our latest eBook, The New Student Enrollment Playbook: COVID-19 Edition is now available to download for free.

Consider it your one-stop-shop for all things COVID-19, and not to worry, we disinfect the download button following each click ; -)

From advice on crisis contingency planning to a review of the best online learning resources, The New Student Enrollment Playbook will help you and your leadership navigate this new normal and emerge stronger for it. Read on to download your copy.

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The More Things Change…The More We Need to Figure Out

So, ICE tells all the online international students in the U.S. to go home and Harvard tells all students to go online for Fall 2020 (without lowering tuition). That’s quite a news day.

From day to day, the landscape continues to shift, sometimes dramatically.

If you’ve missed the past few months of Recruiting Intelligence posts because you’ve had other pressing priorities (we get it), then you may want to take a scroll through it all.

Read on for a quick summary of all the things we all need to figure out. (Spoiler alert: we've already figured out a lot of them).

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Perceived Value: Online vs. On Campus

What are your students willing to pay for an online education?

Here is what you are really after: given your brand reputation, the demographics of your student cohort and the potential to create a new service delivery model, what should you offer and how much should you charge for it?

Let’s get that answered!

Our primary message: custom research into what your student cohort is willing to pay for your brand on campus or online is invaluable. An important part of innovation is the upfront market research that points your team in the right direction.

Below we review some new pricing research that offers insights and a conceptual approach to getting this type of data for your institution.

The context: During a high school Zoom graduation ceremony we watched this past week (my niece got her paper!), the valedictorian shared the experience of his last day in high school in March this year – a day like any other, except that at the end of it, the principal quite suddenly told everyone there would be no school the next day. A mundane day that suddenly marked the end of all he had worked for. No celebration, no Senior Week pranks, no high fives, just, head home and, as it turned out, don’t return.

His comment at the close of his valedictorian graduation speech: Don’t ever doubt that the world can change in an instant.

Across the globe, students and institutions shared that experience. How will all those valedictorians and all their friends make decisions going forward. College? Job? Remote learning and a job?

Read on for pricing research perspective to get you thinking.

And watch this space over the next few weeks as we dive into the doing that is prompted by the thinking. We’ll be sharing detailed case studies of some of the successful digital marketing work we’ve been doing for a variety of institutions around the world.

Yes, even during a pandemic, especially during a pandemic, digital marketing will connect you with your target audiences. We will show you how and give you benchmarks to help you evaluate how you are doing.

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Investing in Growth, Looking Beyond Fall

Your institution’s mission has not changed.

Despite all that is swirling around us, you are still in the business of helping people improve and achieve. You are still helping them understand what to learn and how to learn it.

Resilience is Built

Many institutional leadership teams are demonstrating the very resilience their mission statements say they will instill in their students. Others are suggesting business as usual with little change to their operations beyond physical distancing practices.

Investing in adaptation and innovation builds long-term resilience. This is what students are doing by investing in their educations – building resilience.

What is the story we tell students and parents? “Take the risk. We know it is a lot of money, but you’ll be better off in the long-term.” We tell students to invest in a 4-year growth plan, and we reinforce it along the way, “Don’t be deterred! Finish in 4 years!”

Are academic leaders following that same advice to build resilience for their institutions? Or are they crying poor, just like the students they are trying to convince to spend savings and take on debt for future gains?

Here’s the thing: institutions rarely stick to their own 4-year plans.

Example: Enrollment marketing initiatives often start with 3-5 year plans. The team acknowledges that real returns won’t materialize in years 1 or 2. And then, turnover in senior administrators and other outside factors suddenly defund the growth plan and little to no progress gets made. The planned investment halts after just 12 months.

I’m sure you’ve seen this happen all too often.

What To Do?

Develop the vision. Build the buy-in. Invest in the execution. Stay the course.

We will be adding a new set of research and resources available to our Intead Plus members over the next 8 weeks to help you do just that.

Read on to take a look at where forward-looking institutions are making these investments for longer-term growth (case studies are available).

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Fishing in a Gale

Even in the best of conditions, commercial fishing is a really tough job. You can’t always be sure of a catch in the first place. The work requires specialized equipment, a strong constitution, a team that works well together, patience, and an ability to read the signs. And even with all that in place, there is still no guarantee of success. 

And then, there is fishing in a gale.

Your boat is being knocked about. Your footing is unsure. There are a host of really challenging external conditions to navigate while your team continues to work with the equipment and do the important job of catching the fish.

External conditions cannot set you back!

You see where I’m going with this, right?

Right now, your enrollment managers and admissions reps are all fishing in a gale. We all are. Our institutions are counting on us to produce the catch that will keep everything afloat. Current conditions cannot set us back. And yet…there is no guarantee of a catch.

Some days, the fish simply are not biting. They only want to nibble (as Google search and click trends may indicate).

Enough with the metaphor, here are our top tips to enroll your incoming 2020 cohort and work toward your enrollment goals for 2021.

Read on for tips to produce the catch even on a bad day. (ok, so we are still using the metaphor).

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30 Global Turnkey Campuses

In our conversations with students, we hear a clamoring for certainty.

We’re betting you hear it too. Stick with us here, we’ve got two solid options to present to you. Doing this right will get your current and prospective students singing your praises all over the internet.

The set up: we can see already that the larger mechanisms for fall enrollment – from visa processing to so many other factors – are delayed at best. Intead is talking to a number of institutions that understand our new realities and are taking their student first philosophies to a new level.

In hearing from university presidents about all of the very real administrative machinations that make our new abnormal SO incredibly challenging for institutions, some are saying, “That’s not your problem, its ours.

That right there is innovation speaking. That is institutional leaders understanding why they have their jobs in the first place.

The opposite is also happening. Telling your students (domestic or international) to “wait and see” is not putting your students first and it is not a competitive advantage.

Institutions explaining why they cannot meet students’ (and families’) demands for certainty because of cumbersome internal bureaucracies and systems, well, those institutions will reap what they sow. In this crisis, the nimble (or rich) survive.

Giving students concrete options to move forward right now is where you want to be. Acting now to offer a clear plan for students to maintain their track toward graduation and do more than remote learning programs will cement more of your student relationships for the next four years.

Read on for two specific paths that will serve your international and domestic students in ways that will preserve their graduation timetable and your tuition revenue stream.

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The Student Journey Re-Imagined

Customer journey mapping is an important thing as you build a digital marketing plan. How do customers first become aware of your brand? What do they consider along the way? What can you deliver to them to speak convincingly to those considerations?

We’ve done quite a few posts about micro-conversions (from our NAFSA session last year - among other posts). The idea is that you give your digital prospects the information they want at the right time to take them to the next step or next consideration in the process. You don’t just push the “apply now” button at the get go.

So, with all that is going on with enrollment issues right now, why are we talking about customer journey mapping? Because the decision-making process for your students – both prospective and current, both international and domestic – has changed. A lot.

This is the right time to re-consider how your digital marketing (website, ads, social media) are speaking to your many student segments about what you have to offer, before they defer for the next year and the connection you’ve worked so hard to create dissipates and then disappears, along with the tuition payments.

Read on for tips and perspective on why this is so important.

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New Revenue Sources: Your Success Depends on It

How does a university facing reduced enrollment find new sources of revenue? Let's get specific. 

There are a number of answers to this question. And they hinge a bit on how much time your institution has. Is this need for diversified sources urgent, as in, “Let’s get a new program out there this summer to increase fall enrollment”? Or do you have funds (endowment or reserves) to draw upon for the next year to weather the storm, allowing new revenue sources to be developed more slowly?

Either way, the response will require speed -- not a strong suit for academic institutions in general. And it requires a level of nimble creativity and well-coordinated collaboration. These are hard combinations to pull together. But mostly, it is the compressed length of time to bring a new idea to market that will likely be your biggest challenge.

With this post we are offering a range of ideas for new academic programs that you can offer to students across the country and around the world. For the most part, these are all programs that you can create from what you have on hand already. There’s a bit of repackaging and rebranding required. And an innovative delivery system. But it can all be done in the time you have available.

What’s the catch? Why haven’t you done this before? Well…

To succeed at this, you must have support from the those at the top and the ability to innovate. Easier said than done. But now your success depends on just that — getting it done. 

Want to find a way to fill the looming holes in your revenue streams? Our recommendations and tips follow.

This is not for the feint of heart. Buckle up and read on.

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