Maximizing Enrollment, Retention and Re-Engagement through Personalization
Students are initiating their own college search process and it’s starting right at home. With the pandemic shifting everyone to the online environment, the use of digital resources have been critical in attracting and retaining prospective students.
There’s been a continuation of trends when it comes to finding the right college or university for students. At the core, students want to feel like they’re more than a number. They want to feel connected to a school that will deliver exactly what they need.
They want a personalized experience.
In the third episode of Illumination by Modern Campus, Enrique Jasso, Associate Director of the Texas Health Education Service, highlighted the importance of breaking down where your prospective students are in the digital space.
“[Those findings] are really helpful and insightful for us as a smaller team, to target our efforts toward those platforms,” Jasso said.
From the RNL E-Expectations Trends Report findings, highlighted in Personal Connections: How to Maximize Student Enrollment, Retention and Re-Engagement, it’s clear that students want contextualized engagement with the institution at every phase.
Joining in the conversation, Vaughn Shinkus, Assistant Vice President and Senior Consultant at Ruffalo Noel Levitz, shared some of the key characteristics of what that personalized experience looks like for a modern learner.
“The data's pretty clear in terms of the need to put academic information front and center in the college search process,” Shinkus said.
It’s the details of academic programs that students want. Especially since modern learners are so focused on the ROI of their education.
“If we don't capture attention around the differentiators of our academic programs, it's pretty clear that we're unlikely to have students persist in their discovery process with us,” Shinkus continued.
Jasso’s takeaway from the research was in how targeted searches have become in the application process.
“That’s a call to action for so many universities to really drive home a lot of their diversity and inclusion efforts and bring those efforts to the forefront,” Jasso said. Without addressing the issues around diversity and inclusion, there’s a disservice and missed opportunity to underrepresented groups that is occurring.
While personalization is nothing new to higher education,it’s generally not leveraged at the early stages of a prospective students’ journey. Often, institutional engagement—especially at scale—is only personalized once students formally signal their interest in applying and enrolling.
But it’s crucial to have a high level of personalization at every stage of the enrollment funnel to keep them engaged. This is especially true for non-traditional students and other learners from under-represented communities, who are likely trying to determine whether there’s a fit for them at a given institution before raising their hand and signalling their interest.
“It begins with looking at our own data,” Shinkus said. “[We don’t want to] put everyone into the same bucket.” Everyone brings their own experience to the search process of their continuing education. It’s critical that they’re experience is tailored to their unique needs.
Optimizing web content and development will be key to bringing personalization to your students. Students need to have the most relevant and up to date information to have the best student experience.
“What Modern Campus built with the new personalization tools is really a game changer in terms of what that scalability looks like.” Jasso said.
To read more about the RNL E-Expectations Trends Report findings, check out Personal Connections: How to Maximize Student Enrollment, Retention and Re-Engagement.
Last updated: July 23, 2021