Student Recruitment Strategies for Millennials

  • August 25, 2015

Millennials are on track to become the most educated generation in America’s history, making them a huge factor in any college recruitment strategy. To determine what types of techniques or strategies work best for millennials, we want to uncover their needs, wants and expectations when it comes to education and communication in general. We utilized a variety of studies and research to compile 5 actionable strategies to incorporate into your millennial recruitment plan.

  1. Personalize all communications.

Millennials grew up with data at their fingertips. Students are accustomed to personalized ads on Facebook, automatically synced billing forms on retail sites and single sign-on features for websites and apps. They expect you to know who they are and what they like instead of generalizing them as a member of the “class of 2015”.

Try personalizing your communications with:

  • Geo-specific call-to-actions in emails or Facebook ads, for example, targeting students in the San Francisco area for an event in that area
  • Customizing content based on prospective students interests. If a prospective student visits your Business Major page, email his/her relevant articles or recent university news in that field.
  • Reach out to students on an individual level. Admissions Counselors at DePauw University created Twitter accounts to reach out to prospective students, taking the relationship with the school to a personal level. The personal interest made the prospective student want to attend DePauw.
  1. Reinforce with digital communications.

56% of Millennials used a smartphone to search for and apply to U.S. colleges or universities. This indicates two things: 1- your website content and mobile-friendly design is increasingly important and 2- students will most likely be seeking digital communications. Many universities utilize email and social media to push out information to prospective students, but some forget the importance of reinforcing through these mechanisms. A few ways to reinforce include:

  • For students that have started an online application but not yet submitted it, follow up with reminder email communications that include links back to the application and the deadline.
  • Use social media to feature important news and application deadlines on Facebook & Twitter
  • Encourage prospective students to “sign up to learn more” with their email, allowing you to create a database of emails so you can follow-up with department-relevant information.
  1. Designate and leverage key influencers in your university network.

In a study done by World Education News & Reviews, 42% of students cited a university network (faculty, admissions officers, current students and alumni) as being the most influential in regards to their decision of where to apply. Similar to key influencer strategies in social media, you should identify particular faculty, students and alumni that will act as the “university cheerleader” on social channels and on campus.

  1. Show students how a degree from your university can translate into a career.

According to a study done by UCLA, incoming freshman cited “to be able to get a better job” as the top reason to attend college. Millennials grew up during the peak of the recession, so the ability to land a good job after college has become increasingly important.

By connecting employed alumni with prospective students in their related field, students can begin to visualize where a degree can lead them. Do this by:

  • Inviting alumni to recruiting events where they can discuss their career path and day-to-day activities
  • Creating groups on social media platforms like LinkedIn where the two audiences can connect. Facilitate conversations by sharing interesting content like “where alumni are now” stats.
  • Feature “alumni profiles” on your website, segmenting by colleges and departments
  1. Make financial aid and student services information easily accessible in multiple places.

College affordability and feeling “overwhelmed” are two significant factors in determining whether a student attends college and is able to succeed. Millennials are accustomed to consuming information in a variety of ways, including photos, videos, articles and brochures. This means universities should share information in multiple ways through multiple outlets, including videos, infographics and articles distributed through YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, websites and email. Low on resources? FAFSA has pre-made content and resources that you can share directly on your site.