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Recruiting Intelligence

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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Recruiting Intel Digest: The Most Useful Stuff from Q3 2021

No quiet summer here--things have only sped up this quarter as institutions recalibrated their approaches to the ongoing hurdles and opportunities of the pandemic. With innovative thinking and disciplined strategy, your colleagues are tackling the big issues of the fall and considering how to adapt for spring and fall 2022. Today’s post points you to some of the high-performance best practices we’ve shared over the past 3 months to help during these times of uncertainty. 

So, grab a cup of coffee and before you finish it, we know you’ll be sharing links from this Q3 2021 wrap up with your enrollment team and colleagues with the power to make positive change for students around the world.

Read on for our quarterly recap of Intead resources available to you — all in one place. Plus, a preview of what’s coming next. But first:

PARTICIPATE AND LEARN: Opportunities up stay current and up your game:

  • October 5, NAFSA All-Region Summit Session: 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.)
  • IIENetworker fall issue publishes Intead’s 2021 market research on Indian and Chinese student mobility. See below for a link to the magazine full of insights.
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Recruiting Intel Digest: The Most Useful Stuff from Q2 2021

Ambiguity continues as we head into summer 2021. Will international students obtain visas for this fall in time for August orientation? 

We know the US Embassy in New Delhi and the four Consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata are working it double time to process the same visa volume they had in 2019 but in just 2 months. Go team!

And we know that Chinese student visas are facing a time crunch and additional challenges around the approval rules, especially students admitted to STEM graduate programs. 

While optimism is an important element of any future-focused initiative, facing reality and ensuring your plan can adapt to those realities is more than prudent. It is required. The reality here is that there are significant headwinds that appear insurmountable. Highly unlikely that the enrollment numbers will bear out this fall for many US institutions. Application volume is creating unsupported optimism in this case.

We’ve reported on these topics, collected and interpreted data from multiple sources, and released analyses during this past quarter. From presenting two sessions in partnership with our esteemed academic leaders and global partners at the 2021 NAFSA, to publishing a market research report on the new Indian mindset on US schools, this has been an important quarter for shared insights.

So, grab a cup of coffee and before you finish it, we know you’ll be sharing links from this Q2 2021 wrap up with your enrollment team and colleagues with the power to make positive change for students around the world.

Read on for our quarterly recap of Intead resources available to you — all in one place. Plus, a preview of what’s coming next…

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Student Recruitment Mistakes of the Desperate: Part 2

This week we are continuing our two-part series on the all-too-common mistakes that happen when recruitment professionals are caught between increasing strain on limited budgets and rising enrollment demands. Didn't get the chance to read part one? You can do so here.

As you read this series, you might think, "yep, I've been there..." or "hey, I would never do that!" ... Either way, as you and your team navigate the uncertain waters of 2021, there is value in strategizing around these common pitfalls as you keep your eyes on enrollment growth.

And if you’re looking for more resources and perspective for your team, we hope you’ll join us for our two virtual sessions at NAFSA 2021 in June.

  • In Achieving Global Agility: The Flexibility of Global Campus Options, we’ll be joined by Seamus Harreys from CIEE and Ita Duron from Massachusetts College of Health and Pharmacy Sciences for a discussion on the challenges and opportunities of delivering your academic programs on remote campuses (think: Shanghai). First-hand experiences shared.

  • We’ll also be presenting with David DiMaria from University of Maryland, Baltimore County on strategies to help your institution’s international recruitment efforts thrive, even during challenging times, in Going from 0-60: Internationalization. We’ll be talking all things strategic partnerships, team management strategy, techniques for building that all-important leadership buy-in, and the global marketing efforts that pay off.

Let's get into it — Part 2 of recruitment mistakes of the desperate... 

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Student Recruitment Mistakes of the Desperate: Part 1

Many enrollment leaders are reporting terrific application rates for fall 2021, which is certainly welcome news. Campus enrollment numbers look promising for a number of reasons, primary among them:

  • Campuses are planning to open this fall with in-person learning as an option — highly desirable after this past year’s Zoom school.
  • Prospective students look like they will find summer jobs (unlike last year), suggesting they can afford to return to university.

However, there is plenty we do not know as we write this post in early May 2021.

Where India looked like they had successfully kept COVID-19 at bay, more recently, the country has become inundated. As of this writing, many areas of Canada are taking significant precautions to stem the spread. Here in the US, there is a common expectation that the country is on a positive trajectory with regard to the pandemic, and yet, India and Canada thought they were in the clear not too long ago. Our point: the future is murky.

With ambiguity, comes fear and inaction for some; for others, opportunity.

Let’s assume that as summer 2021 hits, your enrollment numbers are not where they should be. Budget dollars are extremely tight. And yet, growth is demanded. What to do?

Often (more often than we all care to admit and especially in times of crisis like we’ve experienced in the past year), we are approached by academic leaders from institutions around the world who are desperate and seeking student recruiting advice.

More often than not, institutions are hung up on the common challenges of people, tools, and budget. This is true of most service industries (and, in fact, product driven industries as well). There is no lack of ideas and opportunities. The only thing holding them back is the difficulty of aligning the team (people) and willingness to risk the funds (because there are no guarantees of success).

Note, an A-level team with B- or C-level tools will still crush it. B-level team with A-level tools? Not so much.

Back in 2018, we published a two-part “Mistakes of the Desperate” series, discussing the all-too-common mistakes we witness academic leaders making as they navigate enrollment challenges. Those who have been in the industry for a number of years have seen this state of affairs at different times: the pressure to produce without the time and resources to do it right. And looking back at those times, we all know what the result was: ineffective and disappointing.

In this particularly dynamic time for student enrollment and with so much ambiguity around what will happen next, we think this series deserves a second look as your team gears up for the next recruiting cycle. 

And for additional resources for your team navigating this challenging year, we hope you will tune it for our two sessions at the upcoming annual NAFSA (virtual) conference in June:

  • Achieving Global Agility: The Flexibility of Global Campus Options on the value of global campuses and how to implement them in a nimble, flexible way (presenters: Intead with Seamus Harreys from CIEE and Ita Duron from Massachusetts College of Health and Pharmacy Sciences University); and
  • Going from 0-60: Internationalization about the challenges and successes of taking your university’s internationalization efforts to the next level (presenters: Intead with David DiMaria from University of Maryland, Baltimore County).

Read on for three common mistakes academic leaders make when desperately trying to improve student enrollment numbers and how your institution can avoid them.

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Not Traveling? Making the Case for Your Recruitment Budget

Your budget is the tactical expression of your strategy. What you value most is where you put your funds. Or at least, that’s how it should be.

Whether you are submitting your budget for approval or evaluating the budget requests others submit to you, this year’s budget season is looking a little different. International recruitment travel? Still off the table. Student recruitment dollars? Still in need of allocation.

With your standard recruitment playbook out the window, a comprehensive budgetary framework  to evaluate all the different strategic initiatives on the horizon becomes more important than ever.

Are you devoting enough to the digital channels available? Are you selecting the right channels for your institution? The virtual fair folks are telling you they are really the way to go. Of course they are. Have they shared hard attendance, engagement, and results numbers to prove it?

To help you and your team identify, assess, and evaluate your recruitment initiatives this year, the Intead team took our collective experience with so many different institutional assessments and strategic planning sessions and simplified the process of budget evaluation into 3 Essential Budget Questions — a 1-pager that offers a simplified, high-level approach to considering any budget request.

With this framework for evaluating your plans and whether they merit investment, you’ll take those complex quandaries down to a basic starting point and identify where the opportunities for growth really are.

We think you’ll want to share this one widely. This and a quick review of our recent, highly popular post about how to say no to ideas that are not good enough.

Read on to access the downloadable budget consideration flowchart.

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Quick Hit Digital Campaigns: Performance Benchmarks (3)

We can’t dive into our digital marketing insights this week without first acknowledging where we are right now here in the US. As human beings, we share an acute craving for security. Such a strong desire for a return to “normal”.

This desire for safety cannot stand in the way of our need for change. We, as a community, stand for diversity of thought, culture, and expression. We stand for academic exploration and shared knowledge.

Our team brings the fortitude and commitment to stand day after day and stare straight ahead. We will continue to embrace opportunities to be in this community together, with each other and for each other.

Remember where to look when you need support and encouragement. Courage grows with numbers. We will be here, standing up for our shared ideals for as long as we are able.

And with that weighty and heartfelt commitment to all of you, we will turn to the business of the day with a much lighter tone—

We don’t usually endorse cheating off your neighbor’s paper, but today, we’re making an exception in the spirit of moving us all forward.

We’re excited to share this work with you: actual digital marketing campaign results from a campaign we recently ran for a US institution targeting international student prospects in Colombia and South Africa. We’re offering you a case study with real, granular detail straight from our marketing dashboards to help you answer digital marketing’s most common questions:

  • Am I doing this right?
  • What should I measure?
  • What does success look like?

Read on for a case study snapshot and to download the full version for yourself. We’re talking real performance data here, including top performing creative assets, actual CPC, CPM, and conversion data, and more.

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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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