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How Student-Centered Recruitment Can Fix Higher Ed

by Sirley Carballo · Apr 01, 2022

It’s no secret that higher ed has changed dramatically in the past two years. The pandemic has exacerbated and exposed cracks in today's student recruiting. Higher ed admissions and marketing teams can no longer rely on cycling through the same traditional enrollment process.

A photo of a student tour.

The current institution-led admissions and enrollment process is broken. Prospective students reluctantly adapted to it. Parents tolerated it. But the old approach is obsolete.

Students have a new set of expectations. The process is now putting the student at the center of the experience, rather than the institution. Phone and email are no longer enough to build a strong, enduring student connection—students and parents now expect personalized and relevant content in the channels they care about—web and mobile.

It’s time to let students pull the information they need when they need it with a student-centered approach.

It’s time to say goodbye to the old-school approach

If you’ve been in higher ed for longer than one year, you probably understand how the traditional recruitment cycle works. Search campaigns, travel season, application deadlines, enrollment incentives, rinse, repeat. 

But it’s clear that the old way of doing things has run its course. As more students (and parents) question the value of a traditional degree and enrollment figures decline nationwide, it’s critical that we throw out our old cookie-cutter approach to student recruitment and engagement in favor of a personalized and relevant student experience.

It’s not enough to mass-mail viewbooks and send a monthly email with upcoming visit dates. Every interaction should be seen as an opportunity to connect and engage with that prospective student, whether they’re filling out a form, opening an email, or visiting you in person.

What type of program or co-curricular is your student interested in? Did they sign up for an information session about being a student-athlete? Do they mostly respond via email or text?

With each interaction, you can learn more about what’s working, what isn’t, and what you need to implement to level up your personalized experiences with students. 

Screenshots of an email workflow and results.

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Personalized student experiences are the future

Whereas colleges and universities used to get by on name recognition, fun facts, and notable professors or alumni, the tables have turned. Students and parents want to know that your institution is right for them, that your degree is worth the price, and that a good-paying job follows close by. And, above all, students want to be convinced this is the place for them.

Your applicants are people first, and their college decision needs to fit into their lives. Not vice versa. Rather than focusing on just the institution, your recruitment and marketing efforts should place student experiences above all else.

Once you’re attuned to each individual student’s wants and needs, you can more easily tailor your messaging and interactions to convey the right information at the right time. When students are put at the center of each interaction, you’re creating space for meaningful relationships that will make all the difference.

Students and parents now expect personalized and relevant information in the channels they care about—mobile web, text, etc. These experiences need to be memorable, shareable and directly tied to their online exploration for hyper-relevance.

Element451 creates a unique experience for each individual student without overwhelming your team

Admission and marketing teams need to meet students where they are and empower them with information that is timely and relevant. With a multi-channel experience, students can pull the info they need, when they need it and drive the college search process.

Our suite of hyper-personalized and automated tools let you do just that, all from one easy-to-use CRM software.

  • Student Marketing
    Put candidates in the driver's seat. Communicate on the channel of THEIR choice about what they care about.
  • Student Intelligence
    Let students' interests shape your campaigns not the other way around.
  • Student Applications
    Provide a personalized experience from applying to depositing to studying at your school.

With a student-centered approach, you’ll help students navigate the enrollment process with ease, and help your admissions and enrollment teams maximize their efforts without adding to their plates.

See how a student-centered approach can transform your student recruitment and engagement by getting a demo of Element451.


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