6. Mobile-Enable Your Info
More and more students are accessing college information by mobile phones, as Smartphone ownership has boomed from 22 percent in 2010 to 87 percent in 2015. As a result, institutions should provide mobile-friendly content to enhance student experiences, says the report. For instance, e-mails and especially school websites should be optimized for mobile viewing.
“We’re not afraid to change, because our students change,” said Hernandez. “We can’t recruit them the way we did 5 years ago. We live in a different world, so we’re responding to new and different technologies. If it’s not of value to them, we aren’t relevant, and we aren’t going to see students attend.”
7. Know that They’d Like to Text You, Not You Them
Under-represented groups are more open to text messages from colleges and universities. More than 75 percent of students said they want to be able to text schools directly. On the other hand, a lower number, 56.7 percent, of students are open to receiving texts from colleges. This is because they do not want messages to be excessive, unnecessary or annoying, to breach on their personal space, or because they prefer a more formal or efficient method of contact.
Instead, says the report, students want the messages to be timely and relevant, such as deadline reminders, confirmations of information the student provided, a response to a specific question they asked, reminders for events that they registered for, and information on financial aid. Additionally, males, first-generation students, African American and Hispanic/Latino students, and students from low-income households were slightly more open to receiving text messages from colleges than their counterparts.
8. Use Social Media Post-Engagement
Only about 10 percent of students surveyed found social media to be helpful when gathering information about colleges. Still, even if social media is not an optimal recruitment tool for under-represented groups, it does offer a compelling way to share authentic insights into the character of an institution and to encourage conversations with and among students once they have expressed interest in a school.
For example, watching a YouTube video created by a college was the most popular social media interaction, with following a college on Facebook as the next most popular, then Instagram, and, finally, on Twitter. While Facebook remains the most popular of the three main social media sites, its popularity has fallen by nearly 12 percent on average in the last 3 years.
“Social media is like posting your message on a billboard; it’s not personalized or customized to the student” said Hernandez. “It’s not really getting students to think about us, but once they are, they can stay connected through social media. We want to convey to [high school] students what the student experience is like, and this is away to create conversation and allow students to be involved.”
9. Skip Traditional Media
Radio, TV, newspaper and magazine advertisements were found to be the least helpful resources by students for their search.
10. Don’t Wait to Engage
One of the final recommendations made by the report was the importance of being ready to communicate with students as soon as they inquire and throughout their high school career.
“Students don’t always know how successful they are, particularly first-generation and minority students,” said Hernandez. “A first-generation student thanked me for admitting her today, and my response to her was that I just got to say yes. She faced lots of obstacles from her financial background, but was a major contributor to her community and is an outstanding individual. We’re lucky to have her. It’s important to work with students like her to let them know that they have a lot to offer, and that their perspectives are important for learning, teaching and the educational environment.”
For the full report and an infographic on students’ communications preferences, visit the Royall & Company blog.