Data use and personalized communications are a deal maker (or breaker) in campus recruitment and future giving.

Students are increasingly using their expectations of and actual experiences with data and personalized communications to dictate their enrollment and future giving, according to a new survey from software and services provider Ellucian.

The annual survey, released at EDUCAUSE 2018, shows that personalized communications weigh heavily in students’ decisions about which institution to attend.

In fact, 87 percent of students who received personalized communications during their application process say it was an important factor in their choice of school. Forty-eight percent of students who applied to multiple colleges used poor communication as one reason not to attend a particular institution.

“Today’s students expect seamless personalized experiences from nearly every organization they come in contact with—whether they realize it or not,” says Katie Lynch-Holmes, Ellucian senior strategic consultant. “These expectations and actual experiences influence their choice of institution, long-term loyalty, and future giving.”

What’s more, students pay attention to the data they offer and where it goes—or doesn’t go. They say they expect the large amounts of data they provide during college recruitment to be reflected back in tailored communications and experiences.

Students say they sometimes have to speak with at least four different people before they receive an answer to a single advising question, and 70 percent of students say they have had to submit their personal information three or more times during their first year of school.

Based on these latest findings, higher-ed administrators say leveraging student data across departments is imperative as they strive to meet students’ expectations for modern communications.

Eighty-seven percent of administrators think their institution will not be able to remain competitive without integrating student data across departments within five years.

Ninety-five percent of advisers wish they had access to more complete information on students’ financial, academic, and student life data, and 95 percent of advancement officials say they think they would have a better relationship with alumni if they had access to more data across the student lifecycle.

Student lifecycle data also has implications for future giving, the survey found—85 percent of alumni would donate more often if they knew their money funded organizations or initiatives they were involved with as students, and 51 percent of alumni who receive requests say less than 10 percent of those requests are tied to their personal interests or past campus activities.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Editorial Director, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura